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Research Papers: Energy Systems Analysis

J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2018;140(9):092001-092001-9. doi:10.1115/1.4039872.

The use of renewable sources, such as woody biomass waste, for energy purposes helps to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and therefore the production of associated pollutants and greenhouse gases. Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are devices that convert the chemical energy of a product gas produced by a gasifier of biomass waste, before being suitably purified, directly into electric energy, with conversion efficiency, which is higher than that of other conventional energy systems. Since they operate at high temperature, they make available also thermal energy, which can be used for co- and tri-generation purposes. This paper aims at studying the arrangement of a complete trigenerative energy system composed of a gasifier of waste biomass; an energy unit represented by a SOFC system; an absorption cooling section for the conversion into cooling energy of the waste heat. In its layout, the SOFC energy unit considers the anode off gas recirculation, a postcombustor to energize the exhaust stream, and a preheater for the fresh gases entering. The integrated plant is completed by means of batteries for electric energy storage and hot water tanks and thermal energy storage. An ad hoc developed numerical modeling is used to choose the working point of the SOFC energy system at which to operate it and to analyze its energy behavior under syngas feeding. Two biomass-derived syngas are analyzed: one from woody biomass and one from urban solid waste gasification. Hence, the entire integrated plant is analyzed for both feeding types. The energy analysis of the integrated SOFC/gasifier is carried out based on a fixed quantity of biomass waste to be processed in an existing gasifier. Then, the design of the SOFC energy section is carried out. The integrated plant is then applied to a case study to satisfy the energy needs of a user of the tertiary sector. Therefore, based on this, the procedure continues with sizing the cooling section for the cooling power delivery in the warm season, the batteries to store the electric energy to be delivered, and the hot water tanks for the thermal energy storage to be delivered as heat when necessary or to feed the absorption cooling plant. The integrated SOFC/Gasifier defined can be considered as a high-efficiency tri-generator capable of accomplishing an energy valorization of high quality waste biomass.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2018;140(9):092002-092002-11. doi:10.1115/1.4039873.
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This paper deals with an integrated biomass system developed for syngas production with waste heat recovery option and analyzes this system thermodynamically using both energy and exergy approaches. Also, an aspenplus simulation model is developed to demonstrate comparative gasification analyses of wood (Birch) and olive waste using Gibbs reactor for syngas production. Gibbs free energy minimization technique is applied to calculate the equilibrium of chemical reactions. In this newly developed model, the heat of the product syngas and the waste heat from the flue gas are recovered through a unique integration of four heat exchangers to produce steam for the gasification process. The sensitivity analyses are performed to observe the variations in the concentration of the methane, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in syngas against various operating conditions. Furthermore, the performance of gasifier is indicated through cold gas energy efficiency (CGE) and cold gas exergy efficiency (CGEX). The overall energy and exergy analyses are also conducted, and the comparisons reveal that the biomass composed of olive waste yields high magnitude of overall and cold gas energy efficiencies, whereas wood (Birch) yields high magnitude of overall and cold gas exergy efficiencies. Moreover, the energy of the product syngas is recovered through an expander which enhances energy and exergy efficiencies of the overall system. The present results show that the CGE, CGEX, and overall energetic and exergetic efficiencies follow a decreasing trend with the increase in combustion temperature. The proposed system has superior and unique features as compared to conventional biomass gasification systems.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2018;140(9):092003-092003-14. doi:10.1115/1.4039609.

The gas–liquid cylindrical cyclone (GLCC) is a widely used alternative for gas–liquid conventional separation. Besides its maturity, the effect of some geometrical parameters over its performance is not fully understood. The main objective of this study is to use computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling in order to evaluate the effect of geometrical modifications in the reduction of liquid carry over (LCO) and gas carry under (GCU). Simulations for two-phase flow were carried out under zero net liquid flow, and the average liquid holdup was compared with Kanshio (Kanshio, S., 2015, “Multiphase Flow in Pipe Cyclonic Separator,” Ph.D. thesis, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK) obtaining root-mean-square errors around 13% between CFD and experimental data. An experimental setup, in which LCO data were acquired, was built in order to validate a CFD model that includes both phases entering to the GLCC. An average discrepancy below 6% was obtained by comparing simulations with experimental data. Once the model was validated, five geometrical variables were tested with CFD. The considered variables correspond to the inlet configuration (location and inclination angle), the effect of dual inlet, and nozzle geometry (diameter and area reduction). Based on the results, the best configuration corresponds to an angle of 27 deg, inlet location 10 cm above the center, a dual inlet with 20 cm of spacing between both legs, a nozzle of 3.5 cm of diameter, and a volute inlet of 15% of pipe area. The combination of these options in the same geometry reduced LCO by 98% with respect to the original case of the experimental setup. Finally, the swirling decay was studied with CFD showing that liquid has a greater impact than the gas flowrate.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2018;140(9):092004-092004-7. doi:10.1115/1.4039976.

Adverse effects of synthetic refrigerants on the environment have led to replacing them with natural refrigerants. The common candidates are ammonia, carbon dioxide, and several hydrocarbon compounds and their mixtures. Ammonia has been used mainly in large-scale cooling purposes such as large-scale supermarkets and climatic rooms. However, in such systems, leakage of ammonia may arise severe results on human health and may damage products in the cooled space. Recently, in last decade, a well-known refrigerant, CO2, has gained more attention to be applied in refrigeration systems due to having prominent thermo-physical properties. The performance analysis of a CO2/NH3 cascade (CAS) system has been theoretically examined in the current study. The detailed performance analysis of the system and optimization of the operating parameters have been studied extensively. In addition, the second-law analysis of the system with both cycles has been performed. Optimum operating conditions of the system are also determined and correlations are developed. Finally, the coefficient of performance (COP) correlations developed by several researchers in literature and those of current study are compared against available experimental COP results. The comparisons showed that the proposed correlations can be utilized for the accurate prediction of the COP of a cascade CO2/NH3 system within the studied range of operating conditions.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2018;140(9):092005-092005-9. doi:10.1115/1.4039874.

The purpose of this research is to investigate the flow behavior inside a mixed flow type pump operating with fluids of different viscosities using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) with the goal to establish additional terms for the pump affinity laws to scale pump performance including the effects of viscosity. Several sets of fluids of different viscosities and densities are simulated under various operating conditions. The effect of viscosity on the performance of the impeller and diffuser is discussed. Changes in the pump performance due to fluid viscosity are characterized using the dimensionless flow coefficient, head coefficient, and rotational Reynolds number. The result, which can be regarded as the modified pump affinity laws for viscosity flows, was obtained based on the relationships between dimensionless coefficients. The modified affinity laws agreed well with the CFD results. Further study was conducted to validate the relationships using previously published test data for a semi axial pump design (specific speed, Ns: 3869) tested with fluid viscosity ranging from 1 cp to 1020 cp and in-house testing of a split vane impeller pump (Ns: 3027) and a helicoaxial pump (Ns: 5281) using 1 cp and 5 cp viscosity fluid. The modified affinity laws accurately models the performance dependence upon viscosity. As with the standard affinity laws, a pump's functional relationship varies with each pump design. Yet the modified affinity laws produce a single common curve for all operating conditions and viscosities for a specific pump.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Fuel Combustion

J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2018;140(9):092201-092201-11. doi:10.1115/1.4039741.

Premixed charge compression ignition (PCCI) combustion is a novel combustion concept, which reduces oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions simultaneously. However, PCCI combustion cannot be implemented in commercial engines due to its handicap in operating at high engine loads. This study is focused on the development of hybrid combustion engine in which engine can be operated in both combustion modes, namely, PCCI and compression ignition (CI). Up to medium loads, engine was operated in PCCI combustion and at higher loads, the engine control unit (ECU) automatically switched the engine operation to CI combustion mode. These combustion modes can be automatically switched by varying the fuel injection parameters and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) by an open ECU. The experiments were carried out at constant engine speed (1500 rpm) and the load was varied from idling to full load (5.5 bar brake mean effective pressure (BMEP)). To investigate the emission and particulate characteristics during different combustion modes and mode switching, continuous sampling of the exhaust gas was done for a 300 s cycle, which was specifically designed for this study. Results showed that PCCI combustion resulted in significantly lower NOx and PM emissions compared to the CI combustion. Lower exhaust gas temperature (EGT) in the PCCI combustion mode resulted in slightly inferior engine performance. Slightly higher concentration of unregulated emission species such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) and formaldehyde (HCHO) in PCCI combustion mode was another important observation from this study. Lower concentration of aromatic compounds in PCCI combustion compared to CI combustion reflected relatively lower toxicity of the exhaust gas. Particulate number-size distribution showed that most particulates emitted in PCCI combustion mode were in the accumulation mode particle (AMP) size range, however, CI combustion emitted relatively smaller sized particles, which were more harmful to the human health. Overall, this study indicated that mode switching has significant potential for application of PCCI combustion mode in production grade engines for automotive sector, which would result in relatively cleaner engine exhaust compared to CI combustion mode engines.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2018;140(9):092202-092202-10. doi:10.1115/1.4039746.

Reduced mechanisms are needed for use with computational fluid dynamic codes (CFD) utilized in the design of combustors. Typically, reduced mechanisms are created from a detailed mechanism, which contain numerous species and reactions that are computationally difficult to handle using most CFD codes. Recently, it has been shown that the detailed aramco 2.0 mechanism well predicted the available experimental data at high pressures and in highly CO2 diluted methane mixtures. Here, a 23-species gas-phase mechanism is derived from the detailed aramco 2.0 mechanism by path-flux-analysis method (PFA) by using CHEM-RC. It is identified that the reaction CH4 + HO2 ⇔ CH3 + H2O2 is very crucial in predicting the ignition delay times (IDTs) under current conditions. Further, it is inferred that species C2H3 and CH3OH are very important in predicting IDTs of lean sCO2 methane mixtures. Also, the 23-species mechanism presented in this work is able to perform on par with the detailed aramco 2.0 mechanism in terms of simulating IDTs, perfectly stirred-reactor (PSR) estimates under various CO2 dilutions and equivalence ratios, and prediction of turbulence chemistry interactions. It is observed that the choice of equation of state has no significant impact on the IDTs of supercritical CH4/O2/CO2 mixtures but it influences supercritical H2/O2/CO2 mixtures considered in this work.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2018;140(9):092203-092203-9. doi:10.1115/1.4039978.

In this paper, a novel high-efficiency coal gasification technology is proposed in which a regenerative unit is applied to recover syngas sensible heat to generate steam; then, the high-temperature steam is used to gasify coke from a pyrolyzer. Through such a thermochemical regenerative unit, the sensible heat with a lower energy level is upgraded into syngas chemical energy with a higher energy level; therefore, high cold gas efficiency (CGE) is expected from the proposed system. aspenplus software is selected to simulate the novel coal gasification system, and the key parameters are validated by experimentation. Then energy, exergy, and energy-utilization diagram (EUD) analyses are applied to disclose the plant performance enhancement mechanism. It is revealed that 83.2% of syngas sensible heat can be recovered into steam agent with the CGE upgraded to 90%. In addition, with the enhancement of CGE, the efficiency of an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) based on the novel gasification system can be as high as 51.82%, showing a significant improvement compared to 45.2% in the general electric company (GE) gasification-based plant. In the meantime, the irreversible destruction of the gasification procedure is reduced to 25.7% through thermochemical reactions. The increase in the accepted energy level (Aea) and the decreases in the released energy level (Aed) and heat absorption (ΔH) contribute to the reduction in exergy destruction in the gasification process. Additionally, since the oxygen agent is no longer used in the IGCC, 34.5 MW exergy destruction in the air separation unit (ASU) is avoided.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Petroleum Engineering

J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2018;140(9):092901-092901-11. doi:10.1115/1.4039744.

Horizontal well drilling technology is widely used in the exploitation of petroleum and natural gas, shale gas, and geothermal resources. The temperature distribution of wellbore and surrounding formation has a significant influence on safe and fast drilling. This study aims to investigate the temperature distribution of horizontal wellbores during circulation by using transient temperature model. The transient temperature prediction model was established by the energy conservation law and solved by the relaxation iterative method. The validity of the model has been verified by the field data from the Tarim Oilfield. The calculation results showed that the highest temperature of the drilling fluid inside the drill string was at the bottomhole and the highest temperature of annulus drilling fluid was at some depth away from the bottomhole. Sensitivity analysis of various factors that affect the temperature distribution of annulus drilling fluid were carried out, including the circulation time, the flow rate, the density of drilling fluid, the inlet temperature, the vertical depth, the horizontal section length, and the geothermal gradient. It can be found that the vertical depth and the geothermal gradient have a significant influence on the bottomhole temperature, and inlet temperature plays a decisive influence on the outlet temperature. These findings can supply theoretical bases for the horizontal wellbore temperature distribution during drilling.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2018;140(9):092902-092902-10. doi:10.1115/1.4039871.

In down-hole interventions, the thin elastic coiled tubing (CT) extended for thousands of meters underground would typically undergo helical buckling as a result of axial compressive force. This paper builds an analytical model to describe the unbuckling behavior of a helically buckled CT with a new view to the stretching process in the plug milling operations. The new dynamic unbuckling equation is built on the basis of the general bending and twisting theory of rods. Under the continuous contact assumption, the helical angle is only subject to time; thus, the dynamic equations can be simplified and the analytical solutions can be obtained. By using the new governing equations, the angular velocity, axial force, and contact force relative to CT are analyzed in the unbuckling process. The calculation results indicate that the parameters including CT diameters and wellbore diameters have a strong influence on the variation of axial force and wellbore contact force. Moreover, the wellbore contact force is greater than zero during the whole unbuckling process which confirms the continuous contact assumption. These new results provide important guidance for accurate job design for the plug milling operations during the well completion stage.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2018;140(9):092903-092903-11. doi:10.1115/1.4039983.

Exploring and developing oil and gas in deepwater field is an important trend of the oil and gas industry. Development of deepwater oil and gas fields from a platform always requires a number of directional wells or extended reach wells targeting to different depth of water in various azimuth. Drilling of these wells is mostly associated with a series of wellbore instability problems that are not encountered in onshore or shallow water drilling. In the past decades, a number of studies on wellbore stability have been conducted. However, few of the models are specific for wellbore stability of the inclined deepwater wellbores. In this work, a comprehensive wellbore stability model considering poroelastic and thermal effects for inclined wellbores in deepwater drilling is developed. The numerical method of the model is also presented. The study shows that for a strike-slip stress regime, the wellbore with a low inclination poses more risk of wellbore instability than the wellbore with a high inclination. It also shows that cooling the wellbore will stabilize the wellbore while excessive cooling could cause wellbore fracturing, and the poroelastic effect could narrow the safe mud weight window. The highest wellbore collapse pressure gradients at all of the analyzed directions are obtained when poroelastic effect is taken into account meanwhile the lowest wellbore fracture pressure gradients at all of the analyzed directions are obtained when both of poroelastic effect and thermal effect are taken into account. For safe drilling in deepwater, both of thermal and poroelastic effects are preferably considered to estimate wellbore stability. The model provides a practical tool to predict the stability of inclined wellbores in deepwater drilling.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Petroleum Wells-Drilling/Production/Construction

J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2018;140(9):093101-093101-9. doi:10.1115/1.4039875.

Field data indicate production profile along horizontal wells is nonuniform. This paper develops an analytical model of multisegment horizontal wells (MSHWs) to estimate rate distribution along horizontal wellbore, interpret the effective producing length (EPL), and identify underperforming horizontal sections using bottom-hole pressure (BHP) data. Pressure solutions enable to model an MSHW with nonuniform distribution of length, spacing, rate, and skin factor. The solution is verified with the analytical solution in commercial software. Type curves are generated to analyze the pressure-transient behavior. The second radial-flow (SRF) occurs for the MSHWs, and the duration of SRF depends on interference between segments. The pressure-derivative curve during SRF equals to 0.5/Np (Np denotes the number of mainly producing segments (PS)) under weak interference between segments. The calculated average permeability may be Np times lower than accurate value when the SRF is misinterpreted as pseudoradial-flow regime. The point (0, 0, h/2) are selected as the reference point, and symmetrical cases will generate different results, enabling us to distinguish them. Finally, field application indicates the potential practical application to identify the underperforming horizontal segments.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2018;140(9):093102-093102-7. doi:10.1115/1.4039977.

Radial jet drilling (RJD) technology is an effective method to enhance oil and gas recovery by penetrating the near-wellbore damage zone, and increasing the drainage radius greatly. Recently, it is identified as a potential technology to develop the geothermal energy. But the extension ability, one of the most critical issues of the RJD, is limited. Because only high pressure flexible hose (HPFH), which is hard to be fed in and subjected to greater resistance by the diverter, can be used as the drill stem to turn from vertical to horizontal in the casing. In this paper, an innovative method to feed in the HPFH by the drag force generated by high velocity flow in narrow annulus is proposed. The drag force model is built, validated, and modified by theoretical and experimental ways. Results show that the resulting drag force, which is equivalent to the self-propelled force, can easily achieve and feed in the HPFH. There is a power law relationship between the drag force and the average velocity; the drag force increases linearly with the length of the narrow annulus. Higher average velocity and 1–1.5 m annulus length are recommended. According to force analysis, the extension ability of the RJD can be doubled theoretically by this method. The results of this paper will greatly promote the development of RJD technology.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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