Advanced Thermodynamics for Engineers

Advanced Thermodynamics for Engineers

When reviewing, or contemplating writing, a textbook on engineering thermodynamics, it is necessary to ask what does this book offer that is not already available? The author has taught thermodynamics to mechanical engineering students, at both undergraduate and post-graduate level, for 25 years and has found that the existing texts cover very  dequately the basic theories of the subject. However, by the final years of a course, and at post-graduate level, the material which is presented is very much influenced by the lecturer, and here it is less easy to find one book that covers all the syllabus in the required manner. This book attempts to answer that need, for the author at least.

The engineer is essentially concerned with manufacturing devices to enable tasks to be preformed cost effectively and efficiently. Engineering has produced a new generation of  automatic ‘slaves’ which enable those in the developed countries to maintain their lifestyle by the consumption of fuels rather than by manual labour. The developing countries still rely to a large extent on ‘manpower’, but the pace of development is such that the whole world wishes to have the machines and quality of life which we, in the developed countries, take for granted: this is a major challenge to the engineer, and particularly the thermodynamicist. The reason why the  hermodynamicist plays a key role in this scenario is because the methods of converting any form of energy into power is the domain of thermodynamics: all of these processes obey the four laws of thermodynamics, and their  efficiency is controlled by the Second Law. The emphasis of the early years of an undergraduate course is on the First Law of thermodynamics, which is simply the conservation of energy; the First Law does not give any information on the quality of the energy. It is the hope of the author that this text will introduce the concept of the quality of

energy and help future engineers use our resources more efficiently. Ironically, some of the largest demands for energy may come from cooling (e.g. refrigeration and airconditioning)

as the developing countries in the tropical regions become wealthier – this might require a more basic way of considering energy utiiisation than that emphasised in current thermodynamic texts. This book attempts to introduce basic concepts which should apply over the whole range of new technologies covered by engineering thermodynamics.

It considers new approaches to cycles, which enable their irreversibility to be taken into account; a detailed study of combustion to show how the chemical energy in a fuel is converted into thermal energy and emissions; an analysis of fuel cells to give an understanding of the direct conversion of chemical energy to electrical power; a detailed study of property relationships to enable more sophisticated analyses to be made of both high and low temperature plant; and rreversible thermodynamics, whose principles might hold a key to new ways of efficiently converting energy to power (e.g. solar energy, fuel cells).

The great advances in the understanding and teaching of thermodynamics came rapidly towards the end of the 19th century, and it was not until the 1940s that these were embodied in thermodynamics textbooks for mechanical engineers. Some of the approaches used in teaching thermodynamics still contain the assumptions embodied in the theories of heat engines without explicitly recognising the limitations they impose. It was the desire to remove some of these shortcomings, together with an increasing interest in what limits the efficiency of thermodynamic devices, that led the author down the path that has  culminated in this text.

I am still a strong believer in the pedagogical necessity of introducing thermodynamics through the traditional route of the Zeroth, First, Second and Third Laws, rather than attempting to use the Single-Axiom Theorem of Hatsopoulos and Keenan, or The Law of Stable Equilibrium of Haywood. While both these approaches enable thermodynamics to be developed in a logical manner, and limit the reliance on cyclic processes, their understanding benefits from years of experience – the one thing students are lacking. I have structured this book on the conventional method of developing the subject. The other dilemma in developing an advanced level text is whether to introduce a significant amount of statistical thermodynamics; since this subject is related to the particulate nature of matter, and most engineers deal with systems far from regions where molecular motion dominates the processes, the majority of the book is based on equilibrium thermodynamics; which concentrates on the macroscopic nature of systems. A few examples of statistical thermodynamics are introduced to demonstrate certain forms of behaviour, but a full understanding of the subject is not a requirement of the text.

The book contains 17 chapters and, while this might seem an excessive number, these are of a size where they can be readily incorporated into a degree course with a modular structure. Many such courses will be based on two hours lecturing per week, and this means that most of the chapters can be presented in a single week. Worked examples are included in most of the chapters to illustrate the concepts being propounded, and the chapters are followed by exercises. Some of these have been developed from texts which are now not available (e.g. Benson, Haywood) and others are based on examination questions. Solutions are provided for all the questions. The properties of gases have been derived from polynomial coefficients published by Benson: all the parameters quoted have been evaluated by the author using these coefficients and equations published in the text this means that all the values are self-consistent, which is not the case in all texts. Some of

the combustion questions have been solved using computer programs developed at

UMIST, and these are all based on these gas property polynomials. If the reader uses other data, e.g. JANAF tables, the solutions obtained might differ slightly from those quoted.

Engineering thermodynamics is basically equilibrium thermodynamics, although for the first two years of the conventional undergraduate course these words are used but not often defined. Much of the thermodynamics done in the early years of a course also relies heavily on reversibilio, without explicit consideration of the effects of irreversibility. Yet, if the performance of thermodynamic devices is to be improved, it is the irreversibility that must be tackled. This book introduces the effects of irreversibility through considerations of availability (exergy), and the concept of the endoreversible engine. The thermal efficiency is related to that of an ideal cycle by the rational efficiency – to demonstrate how closely the performance of an engine approaches that of a reversible one. It is also shown that the Camot efficiency is a very artificial yardstick against which to compare real engines: the internal and external reversibilities imposed by the cycle mean that it produces

zero power at the maximum achievable efficiency. The approach by CuIZon and Ahlbom to define the efficiency of an endoreversible engine producing maximum power output is introduced: this shows the effect of extern1 irreversibility. This analysis also introduces the concept of entropy generation in a manner readily understandable by the engineec this concept is the comerstone of the theories of irreversible thennodynamics which are at the end of the text.

Whilst the laws of thermodynamics can be developed in isolation from consideration of the property relationships of the system under consideration, it is these relationships that enable the equations to be closed. Most undergraduate texts are based on the evaluation of the fluid properties from the simple perfect gas law, or from tables and charts. While this approach enables typical engineering problems to be solved, it does not give much insight into some of the phenomena which can happen under certain  circumstances. For example, is the specific heat at constant volume a function of temperature alone for gases in certain regions of the state diagram? Also, why is the assumption of constant stagnation, or even static, temperature valid for flow of a perfect gas through a throttle, but never for steam? An understanding of these effects can be obtained by examination of the more complex equations of state. This immediately enables methods of gas liquefaction to be introduced.

An important area of enginee~gth ermodynamics is the combustion of hydrocarbon

fuels. These fuels have formed the driving force for the improvement of living standards which has been seen over the last century, but they are presumably finite, and are producing levels of pollution that are a constant challenge to engineers. At present, there is the threat of global warming due to the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: this requires more efficient engines to be produced, or for the carbon-hydrogen ratio in fuels to be reduced. Both of these are major challenges, and while California can legislate for the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) this might not be a worldwide solution. It is said that the ZEV is an electric car running in Los Angeles on power produced in Arizona! – obviously a case of exporting pollution rather than reducing it. The real challenge is not

what is happening in the West, although the energy consumption of the USA is prodigious, but how can the aspirations of the East be met. The combustion technologies developed today will be necessary to enable the Newly Industrialised Countries (NICs) to app roach the level of energy consumption we enjoy. The section on combustion goes further than many general textbooks in an attempt to show the underlying general principles that affect combustion, and it introduces the interaction between thermodynamics and fluid mechanics which is so important to achieving clean and efficient combustion. The final chapter introduces the thermodynamic principles of fuel cells, which enable the direct conversion of the Gibbs energy in the fuel to electrical power. Obviously the fuel cell could be a major contributor to the production of ‘clean’ energy and is a goal for which it

is worth aiming.

Finally, a section is included on irreversible thermodynamics. This is there partly as an intellectual challenge to the reader, but also because it infroduces concepts that might gain more importance in assessing the performance of advanced forms of energy conversion.

For example, although the fuel cell is basically a device for converting the Gibbs energy of the reactants into electrical energy, is its efficiency compromised by the thermodynamics of the steady state that are taking place in the cell? Also, will photo-voltaic devices be limited by phenomena considered by irreversible thermodynamics?

D E Winterbone

 

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