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Title: A study on the flow characteristics of an industrial radiant tube burner
Author: Tsioumanis, Nick
Awarding Body: Aston University
Current Institution: Aston University
Date of Award: 2008
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The thesis presents an experimentally validated modelling study of the flow of combustion air in an industrial radiant tube burner (RTB). The RTB is used typically in industrial heat treating furnaces. The work has been initiated because of the need for improvements in burner lifetime and performance which are related to the fluid mechanics of the com busting flow, and a fundamental understanding of this is therefore necessary. To achieve this, a detailed three-dimensional Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model has been used, validated with experimental air flow, temperature and flue gas measurements. Initially, the work programme is presented and the theory behind RTB design and operation in addition to the theory behind swirling flows and methane combustion. NOx reduction techniques are discussed and numerical modelling of combusting flows is detailed in this section. The importance of turbulence, radiation and combustion modelling is highlighted, as well as the numerical schemes that incorporate discretization, finite volume theory and convergence. The study first focuses on the combustion air flow and its delivery to the combustion zone. An isothermal computational model was developed to allow the examination of the flow characteristics as it enters the burner and progresses through the various sections prior to the discharge face in the combustion area. Important features identified include the air recuperator swirler coil, the step ring, the primary/secondary air splitting flame tube and the fuel nozzle. It was revealed that the effectiveness of the air recuperator swirler is significantly compromised by the need for a generous assembly tolerance. Also, there is a substantial circumferential flow maldistribution introduced by the swirier, but that this is effectively removed by the positioning of a ring constriction in the downstream passage. Computations using the k-ε turbulence model show good agreement with experimentally measured velocity profiles in the combustion zone and proved the use of the modelling strategy prior to the combustion study. Reasonable mesh independence was obtained with 200,000 nodes. Agreement was poorer with the RNG  k-ε and Reynolds Stress models. The study continues to address the combustion process itself and the heat transfer process internal to the RTB. A series of combustion and radiation model configurations were developed and the optimum combination of the Eddy Dissipation (ED) combustion model and the Discrete Transfer (DT) radiation model was used successfully to validate a burner experimental test. The previously cold flow validated k-ε turbulence model was used and reasonable mesh independence was obtained with 300,000 nodes. The combination showed good agreement with temperature measurements in the inner and outer walls of the burner, as well as with flue gas composition measured at the exhaust. The inner tube wall temperature predictions validated the experimental measurements in the largest portion of the thermocouple locations, highlighting a small flame bias to one side, although the model slightly over predicts the temperatures towards the downstream end of the inner tube. NOx emissions were initially over predicted, however, the use of a combustion flame temperature limiting subroutine allowed convergence to the experimental value of 451 ppmv. With the validated model, the effectiveness of certain RTB features identified previously is analysed, and an analysis of the energy transfers throughout the burner is presented, to identify the dominant mechanisms in each region. The optimum turbulence-combustion-radiation model selection was then the baseline for further model development. One of these models, an eccentrically positioned flame tube model highlights the failure mode of the RTB during long term operation. Other models were developed to address NOx reduction and improvement of the flame profile in the burner combustion zone. These included a modified fuel nozzle design, with 12 circular section fuel ports, which demonstrates a longer and more symmetric flame, although with limited success in NOx reduction. In addition, a zero bypass swirler coil model was developed that highlights the effect of the stronger swirling combustion flow. A reduced diameter and a 20 mm forward displaced flame tube model shows limited success in NOx reduction; although the latter demonstrated improvements in the discharge face heat distribution and improvements in the flame symmetry. Finally, Flue Gas Recirculation (FGR) modelling attempts indicate the difficulty of the application of this NOx reduction technique in the Wellman RTB. Recommendations for further work are made that include design mitigations for the fuel nozzle and further burner modelling is suggested to improve computational validation. The introduction of fuel staging is proposed, as well as a modification in the inner tube to enhance the effect of FGR.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Applied Chemistry ; Chemical Engineering