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Thermal Analysis

Thermal design of a gas-fired air heater

A gas-fired air heater is used in the food industry for heating up process air with a heating power of up to 3 [MW]. The cylindrical combustion chamber is enclosed by several sheet metal tubes. By these annular gaps, the flue gas flow and the process air flow are separated alternately. In addition, some of these tubes are equipped with helical sheets in order to guide the air flow.

Prior to the setup of a prototype with increased heating power, it should be checked by coupled thermo-fluid simulations whether the projected thermal efficiency and process air temperature will be achieved.

The figure shows the velocity distribution of the process air. Within the outermost annular gap, the cold process air flows helically from the right to the left. Within two additional annular gaps it flows to the right and back to the left, the latter again in helical manner. The highest flow velocities are observed near the left end of the innermost annular gap. Here the cross section is significantly reduced, the air temperature is maximal and the flow is spinning. The helical sheets prove to be very effective with respect to heat transfer. However, they produce significant pressure loss.

After optimizing the lengths and diameters of the cylinders, the gap widths and the helix angles the gas-fired air heater achieved all requirements regarding thermal efficiency, process air temperature and pressure loss.

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