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' Basics of combustion - I1

equation reveals that 2.25 Ib of wa- generated are used to demonstrate
ter vapor are formed for each where the inherent losses occur in
pound of methane burned. In most practical combustion devices. The
Last month's column concluded combustion configurations, this two major ones are the loss to the
with a derivation of the high heat water is not condensed; thus, the high temperature stack gases and
value of methane (CH,). It was latent heat of vaporization leaves the latent losses in the water vapor
stated in that column that methane the process. At 1060 Btu per lb formed by combustion of the hy-
is the primary constituent of com- (heat of vaporization, hf,, a t 60 F), drogen in the fuel. These were
mercial or pipeline grade natural this latent heat represents a loss of found, for the methane analyzed, to
gas. In many areas of the country, available heat equal to 2385 Btu per total approximately 16 percent.
the HHV of natural gas is approxi- lb of methane. Comparing this to The other loss from the combustion
mately 1000 Btu per cu ft, but it can the total amount of heat liberated, cycle is unburned fuel in the stack
vary between approximately 830 25,807 Btu per lb, reveals that 9.25 gases. This can be in the form of
and 1050 Btu per cu ft-a deviation percent of the total leaves the pro- unburned carbon or carbon monox-
of approximately 25 percent. The cess in the form of noncondensed ide gas. With reasonably good com-
approximate heating values of oth- water vapor. When this is deducted bustion devices (burners and stoke-
er fuels used in building systems from the HHV, the remainder is rs). these unburned fuel losses can
are 140,000 Btu per gal for light defined as the low heat value, LHV, be held to well within a few percent.
(No. 2) fuel oil, 155,000 Btu per gal d the fuel. In this example, the Thus, with reasonably well main-
for heavy (No. 6) oil, 6700 Btu per LHV is found to be approximately tained state-of-the-art fuel burning
lb for North Dakota lignite, and 90 percent of the HHV. This value devices, combustion efficiencies of
14,800 Btu per Ib for West Virginia will vary, of course, with different 80 to 85 percent can be obtained.
semi-bituminous. fuels. Considerable efforts are being
The study of methane (a simple The products of combustion- made currentlv to i m ~ r o v ethe effil
fuel to analyze) provides some rath- those gases emanating from the ciencies by reducing ihe stack tem-
er interesting values that can be ex- process-are called the stack gases. peratures to just above the dew
tended to other fuels with a reason- The weight rate of flow of the stack point temperature (138 F for meth-
able degree of accuracy. For exam- gases is simply equal to the sum of ane with no excess air). From the
ple, in last month's column, the the two components entering the above example, it can be seen that
theoretical air calculation revealed process-the air and the fuel. For such a device could i m ~ r o v ethe
that approximately 10 cu ft of air example, the theoretical air calcu- combustion efficiency by approxi-
are needed to burn 1 cu ft of meth- lation for methane revealed a need mately 5 percent. Although there
ane, and 1 cu ft of methane was for 17.2 lb of air per lb of methane. are some small sized commercial
found to have a heating value of With 20 percent excess, the air flow and residential natural gas boilers
approximately 1000 Btu. Thus, it rate would be 20.64 lb per lb of and furnaces that reduc; the tem-
can be concluded that ideally it re- methane. Then, adding this to the 1 perature of the gases to well below
quires approximately 10 cu ft of air Ib of methane gives a total stack the dew m i n t and thus recover the
to produce 1000 Btu of combustion flow rate of 21.64 lb of stack gas per latent heat, such devices have not
heat. With some allowance for ex- lb of methane. If this gas leaves the yet been perfected in larger sizes.
cess air (say 20 percent), this value combustionlheat transfer device at, A few words should be directed to
becomes 12 cu ft of air to produce say, 400 F and the air and fuel en- the problem of air pollution re-
1000 Btu. tered at, say, 60 F, the loss of avail- lating to the combustion process.
The combustion formula for able heat, determined from the Most fuels contain, in addition to
methane is: heat capacity equation, would be: carbon and hydrogen, some sulfur.
CH, 2O2+CO2 2 H 2 0 + q = wc, A t The sulfur forms sulfur dioxide
A simple weight balance on this y = (21.64)(0.24)(340) (SO,) in the combustion process,
q = 1765 Btu per lb methane and this is probably the most dam-
O n this page each m o n t h , t h e author
As a percent of the total heat lib- aging air pollutant produced by
shares his engineering philosophy by ex- erated, this represents approxi- stationary combustion plants. Vari-
ploring a wide variety of topics, ranging mately a 6.8 percent sensible tem- ous nitrogen oxides (NO, ) are also
from fundamentals t o neu: frontiers, as t h e y perature loss. formed in most combustion Dro-
relate to building environmental systems. The foregoing analysis was done cesses. Although the nitrogen in the
Mr Coad is vice president of Charles J. R.
McClure & Associates and affiliate pro- using methane for illustrative pur- combustion air is essentially inert,
fessor of mechanical engineering at Wash- poses because it is the simplest of
ington University, S t . Louis, Mo. all the common fuels. The values continued on page 100

tatingIPipinglAir Conditioning February 1982
continued from page %

a t high temperatures for a finite
length of time it combines with oxy-
gen to form various oxides of nitro-
gen. These pollutants can be min-
imized by improved burner designs
that attempt to decrease both the
peak temperatures and the time
the nitrogen spends at the higher
temperatures. The unburned fuel,
in the form of particulate (such as
carbon dust or soot) or in the form
of carbon monoxide, also con-
tributes serious potential pollu-
tants. The unburned fuel products
are much more prevalent with
heavy oils and coals than with light
oils and natural gas.
As stated at the outset, the com-
bustion of fuels provides the over-
whelming majority of the world's
energy needs and will likely con-
tinue to do so for some time. Thus,
it is imperative that those involved
in energy systems engineering un-
derstand these processes and that
efforts be redoubled for increasing
the effectiveness of converting the
potential energy in fuel to useful
heat, and for reducing the un-
wanted and dangerously polluting
byproducts. fl

Conditioning February 1982