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5.

1 Efficiency of an internally reversible heat engine when producing


maximum power output
The thermal efficiency of a Carnot cycle operating between high temperature (TH) and low
temperature (Tc) reservoirs is given by
Tc
17th= 1- Ttt

(5.1)

This cycle is extremely idealised. It requires an ideal, reversible heat engine (internally
reversible) but, in addition, the heat transfer from the reservoirs is also reversible
(externally reversible). To achieve external reversibility it is necessary that the temperature difference between the reservoirs and the engine is infinitesimal, which means that the
heat exchanger surface area must be very large or the time to transfer heat must be long.
The former is limited by size and cost factors whilst the latter will limit the actual power
output achieved for the engine. It is possible to evaluate the maximum power output
achievable from an internally reversible (endoreversible) heat engine receiving heat
irreversibly from two reservoirs at TH and Tc . This will now be done, based on Bejan
(1988).
Assume that the engine is a steady-flow one (e.g. like a steam turbine or closed cycle
gas turbine): a similar analysis is possible for an intermittent device (e.g. like a Stirling
engine). A schematic of such an engine is shown in Fig 5 .1.
The reservoir at TH transfers heat to the engine across a resistance and it is received by
the engine at temperature T1 In a similar manner, the engine rejects energy at T2 but the
cold reservoir is at Tc. It can be assumed that the engine itself is reversible and acts as a
Carnot cycle device with

T2

17th= 1- -

(5 .2)

T1
This thermal efficiency is less than the maximum achievable value given by eqn (5 .1)
because T2 /T1 >Tc/TH. The value can only approach that of eqn (5.1) if the temperature
drops between the reservoirs and the engine approach zero.

T,-

Fig. 5.1 Internally reversible heat engine operating between reservoirs at T8 and Tc
The heat transfer from the hot reservoir can be defined as
Ott= UHAH(TH-T1)
where UH= heat transfer coefficient of hot reservoir (e.g. kW /m 2 K)
AH =area of heat transfer surface of hot reservoir (e.g. m 2 )
and Ott= rate of heat transfer (e.g. kW).

(5.3)

The heat transfer to the cold reservoir is similarly


(5.4)

Oc = UcAc(T2 - Tc)

By the first law


(5.5)

W=Qtt-Oc

Now, the heat engine is internally reversible and hence the entropy entering and leaving it
must be equal i.e.
Ott

Oc

Ti

Tz

(5.6)

-=-

This means that

T:

( } - QH
Qc) = QH
( } - Tz)
W = QH
It is possible to manipulate these equations to give

(5.7)

Win

terms of TH, Tc, UHAH, and the

ratio T2 /T1 = r. From eqn (5.4)


Qc
T1=--+Tc
Uc Ac

(5.8)

and, from eqn (5.6),


Ti=

~H T1= Qc
~H 1~
UcAc

Qc

-- +T
1 -'2c
- T UcAc
c

+Tel

(5.9)

Hence

Rearranging gives

QH
UttAHTH

Tc 1
1--Ttt r

(- ~:)

1 +UttAH
---

r(l+UHAH)

Uc Ac

(5.10)

Uc Ac

and hence

(5.11)

(l+ UttAH)(l-r)
Uc Ac

Thus the rate of work output is a function of the ratio of temperatures of the hot and
cold reservoirs, the ratio of temperatures across the engine and the thermal resistances. The
optimum temperature ratio across the engine ( r) to give maximum power output is
obtained when

aw

-=0

ar
Differentiating eqn (5.11) with respect tor gives
aw=(
ar

1
)l(l-r) _ (r-Tc/TH) _
UHAH
r
r
1+--

(r-Tc/T~)(l-r)I
r

UcAc

=~(,+~)!-+~~:I

(5.12)

Uc Ac

Hence aw/ar = 0 when r = oo or r 2 =Tc/TH.


Considering only the non-trivial case, for maximum work output
T2 = (

Tc)i/z

Ti

TH

This result has the effect of maximising the energy flow through the engine while
maintaining the thermal efficiency (r/th = 1 - T2 /T1 ) at a reasonable level. It compromises
between the high efficiency (r/th = 1 - Tc/TH) of the Carnot cycle (which produces zero
energy flow rate) and the zero efficiency engine in which T2 =Ti (which produces high
energy flow rates but no power).

Hence the efficiency of an internally reversible, ideal heat engine operating at maximum
power output is
1 2

1Jth =

Tc) 1
1 - ( TH

An example will be used to show the significance of this result.


Example
Consider a heat engine is connected to a hot reservoir at 1600 Kand a cold one at 400 K.
The heat transfer conductances ( UA) are the same on both the hot and cold sides. Evaluate
the high and low temperatures of the working fluid of the internally reversible heat engine
for maximum power output; also calculate the maximum power.

Solution
Equation (5.11) gives the work rate (power) as

r(l+ UHAH)(l-r)
Uc Ac
For maximum power output r = (Tc/TH) 1l2 = (400/1600) 1! 2 Then

(~ - ~)

1
1600
- - = 1600
(1 - - ) = - - = 200 units
UHAH
_!_ (1 + 1)
2
8
2
and, from eqn (5.10)

QH

- - - - - = 400 units

Then

Thus

ll

T 1 = - -Oc
- +Tc = 2 x (200 + 400) = 1200K
r UcAc
and
1200
T 2 = - - =600K
2
This results in the temperature values shown in Fig 5.2 for the engine and reservoirs.

T,= 1200K_

W = 200 units

T,=600KQc = 200 units

Tc =400 K

Fig. 5.2 Example of internally reversible heat engine operating between reservoirs at TH= 1600 K
and Tc= 400 K with U"A"/ UcAc = 1

The efficiency of the Carnot cycle operating between the reservoirs would have been
r1tt, = 1 - 400/1600 = 0.75 but the efficiency of this engine is r1r11 = 1 - 600/1200 = 0.50. Thus

an engine which delivers maximum power is significantly less efficient than the Carnot engine.
It is possible to derive relationships for the intermediate temperatures. Equation (5.9) gives

T1 =

2_1~
+Tel
r UcAc

and eqn. (5.8) defines T2 as

Oc
Tz= - - +Tc
Uc Ac
Also Oc =Ott -

(5.8)

W, and then

Oc

Ott

Utt AH TH

Utt AH TH

Utt AH TH

Substituting from eqns (5.10) and (5.11) gives

Oc

(r-Tc/TH)

(1+ ~:~:)

(5.13)

Substituting in eqn (5.8) gives

UHAHTH(r-Tc/TH)
Tz = - - - - - - - - + T c
UcAc

(1 + UttAtt)
Uc Ac

UHAH TH (r- r

------+Tc
UcAc+ UttAH
(5.14)

Similarly
(5.15)
To be able to compare the effect of varying the resistances it is necessary to maintain the
total resistance to heat transfer at the same value. For example, let
UHAH + UcAc = 2
Then, if UHAH/ UcAc = 1 (as in the previous example), UHAH = 1.
Consider the effect of having a high resistance to the high temperature reservoir, e.g.
UHAH/UcAc= 1/2. This gives

2
3

Then

-- =

1600

UttAH

_Q_H_ =

(1/2 - 1/4)

.
(1 - 1/2) = 267 units, giving W

177.8 units

(1+1/2)/2
_ _w_- - =

534 units and Ott = 355.6 units

UttAH(l -;)

Then

Oc

Oc

- - - (QH - W) = 133.5 units, giving Qc = 177.8 units

2UttAtt
Hence
1
T, = - (133.5 + 400) = 2 x 533.5 = 1067K, and T2 = 533.5 K.
T

If the resistance to the low temperature reservoir is high, i.e. U"A"/ UcAc = 2, the situation
changes, as shown below. First,

UHAH=

=-=1+1/2
3/2
3

giving

~ = 1600 (1/2 - l/4 ) (I - l/2 )


UttAH

(1+2)/2

which results in W=l77.8 kW and

Ott

-- =

Utt AH

267 units, or Q = 355.6kW

133 units

Then

Oc

2Qc

UcAc

UHAH

UHAH

Oc

-- = -- = -- (

Hence
T 1 = -1
T

--

+Tc

UcAc

QH -

W) = 267 units, giving Qc = 200 units

2(267 + 400)

1334K, and T 2 = 667 K

These results are shown graphically in Fig 5.3.

T" = 1600 K

--~-----~~-----~~--

1334;..;K~""""'"--.

T,

1200 K
1067 K

T,

667 K
600K
533 K

Tc=400K ----""''-------"-._.._--------':..c_---

Fig. 5.3 The effect of heat transfer parameters on engine temperatures for a heat engine operating
between reservoirs at TH= 1600 Kand Tc= 400 K

Comparing the power outputs based on the same total resistance, i.e. UHAH + UcAc = 2,
gives the following table.

1/2
2

400
355.6
355.6

200
200
177.7 177.7
177.7 177.7

It can be seen that the optimum system is one in which the high and low temperature
resistances are equal. In this case the entropy generation (per unit of work) of the universe
is minimised, as shown in the table below.
~\S/W

1/2
2

- 0.25
+0.333
-0.225 +0.333
-0.225 +0.266

+4.17 x 10 - 4
+6.23 x 10 - 4
+2.48 x 10 - 4

-0.333
-0.333
-0.266

+0.5
0.4443
0.4443

+4.17 x 10- 4 +8.34 x 10- 4


+6.24 x 10- 4 +0.00125
+ 10.00 x 10- 4 +0.00125

5.2 Efficiency of combined cycle internally reversible heat engines


when producing maximum power output
One way of improving the overall efficiency of power production between two
reservoirs is to use two engines. For example, a gas turbine and steam turbine can be
used in series to make the most effective use of the available temperature drop. Such a
power plant is referred to as a combined cycle gas turbine, and this type of generating
system was introduced in Chapter 3 in connection with pinch technology. These plants
can be examined in the following way, based on the two heat engines in series shown
in Fig 5.4.

Fig. 5.4 Two internally reversible engines in series forming a combined cycle device operating
between two reservoirs at TH and Tc

In this case the product UA will be replaced by a 'conductivity' C to simplify the


notation. Then
QH = CH(TH - T1)

Q2 = Ci(T2 - T3 )
Qc = Cc(T4 - Tc)

(5.16)
(5.17)
(5.18)

Also, for EH

QH

Q2

T1

T2

(5.19)

and for Ee

Q2

Qc

T3

T4

(5.20)

Let r 1 = T2 /T1 and r 2 = T4 /T3 ; then rearranging eqns (5.16), (5.17) and (5.18) gives
Tl= TH - QH/CH

Tz = Q2/C2+ T3

(5.21)
(5.22)

and
(5.23)
Also
(5.24)
and
(5.25)

(5.26)
From eqns (5.16) and (5.26)
(5.27)
Rearranging eqn (5.27) gives

~-(l-~-~--1- Tc)
CttTH

C2Ttt

Cc TH

(5.28)

r, r2 TH

which can be written as

--=-------

(5.29)

r, r2(1 + Ctt + Ctt)


C2
Cc
The power output of engine EH can be obtained from eqn (5.29) as
WH
CttTH

=~(1-r,)=
CttTH

In a similar manner

(r,r2-Tc/TH)
T1T2

(1-r,)

(5.30)

CH
CH)
l+-+C2
Cc

Wcl CH TH can also be evaluated as

We
Ott
- - = - - r 1 (1 CttTH
CHTH

T2)

(r,r2-Tc/TH)(l-r 2)r 1
= --------(
CH
CH)

(5.31)

WH (1 - T2)
=r,-CttTH (l-r 1 )

(5.32)

T1T2

l+-+C2
Cc

It can be seen from eqns (5.30) and (5.32) that it is possible to split the power output of
the two engines in an arbitrary manner, dependent on the temperature drops across each
engine. The ratio of work output of the two engines is
WH

1 (1-r1)

We

(5.33)

(1-rz)

T1

This shows that if the temperature ratios across the high temperature and the low temperature
engines are equal (i.e. r 1 =r 2 ), the work output of the low temperature engine will be
(5.34)
Hence the work output of the low temperature engine will be lower than that of the high
temperature engine for the same temperature ratio. The reason comes directly from eqns
(5.30) and (5.31), which show that the work output of an engine is directly proportional to
the temperature of the 'heat' at entry.
The power output of a combined cycle power plant is the sum of the power of the
individual engines, hence

Wee

CHTH

CHTH

--=--(WH+Wc)
(r1 2 -Tc/TH)

__
( __c_H__c_H_)

[(1 -

T 1)

+ (1 -

T 2)T

il

12 l +C2- +CcThis may be reduced to

Wee

(r1 2 -Tc/TH)
T1

(5.35)

2(1 +CH+
CH)
C2
Cc

The efficiency of the combined cycle is defined by

Wee

'f/th= - .-

QH

-12

(5.36)

Equation (5.36) shows that the expression for the efficiency of the combined cycle
engine at maximum power output is similar to that for the efficiency of a single heat
engine, except that in this case the temperature ratio of the single engine is replaced by the
product of the two temperature ratios. If the combined cycle device is considered to be two
endoreversible heat engines connected by a perfect conductor (i.e. the resistance between
the engines is zero; C 2 =
then T3 = T2 , and eqn (5.36) becomes
00 )

Wee

'f/th = - .-

QH

1-

TIT 2 =

T1 T3
1- - Tz T4

T1
1- T4

(5.37)

The efficiency given in eqn (5.37) is the same efficiency as would be achieved by a
single endoreversible heat engine operating between the same two temperature limits, and
what would be expected if there was no resistance between the two engines in the
combined cycle plant.

To detennine the efficiency of the combined cycle plant, composed of endoreversible


heat engines, produc;ing maximum power output requires the evaluation of the maxima of
the surface Wcc plo1tted against the independent variables 1 and r 2 It is difficult to obtain
a mathematical expression for this and so the maximum work will be evaluated for some
arbitrary conditions to demonstrate the necessary conditions. This will be done based on
the following assumptions:
temperatures: TH= 1600 K; Tc= 400 K
conductivities: CH = C 2 = Cc = 1

!40

l
'8

JOO

80

:1

;z

120

60

40
20

0
0.3

0.45

]'~

. 0.4S

0.6~~

0.6

~~s

0.3

' 0.75~
0.9 0.9

-ttJ$'

!II

o~~

Fig. 5.5 Variaticm of maximum work output with temperature ratio across the two engines
/
T,.
c:::_---.-------~--.>.

w.

o.

T, T, -

Fig. S.6 Combined cycle heat engine driving a reversed heat engine

While these assumptions are arbitrary, it can be shown that the results obtained are
logical and general. The variation of maximum power output with temperature ratios
across the high and low temperature engines is shown in Fig 5.5. It can be seen that the
maximum power occurs along a ridge which goes across the base plane. Examination
shows that, in this case, this obeys the equation r 1 r 2 = 0.5 = ...JTc/ TH. Hence, the efficiency
of a combined cycle heat engine operating at maximum power output is the same as the
efficiency obtainable from a single heat engine operating between the same two reservoirs.
This solution is quite logical, otherwise it would be possible to arrange heat engines as in
Fig 5.6, and produce net work output while transferring energy with a single reservoir.
Thus the variation of r 1 with r 2 to produce maximum power output is shown in Fig 5.7:
all of these combinations result in the product being 0.5.
<U

.s

Cl()

i:::
<U
<U

0.95
0.9

<U

0..

0 85
08

..9

0.75

07

.....0
~

0 65

<U

Elo:s

....
<U

S'

06
0.55
0.5
05

0.55

06

0 65

07

0 75

OB

085

0.9

0.95

Temperature ratio of high temperature engine


Fig. 5.7 Variations in temperature ratio of high and low temperature heat engines, which produce
maximum power output

5.3

Concluding remarks

A new method for assessing the potential thermal efficiency of heat engines has been
introduced. This is based on the engine operating at its maximum power output, and it is
shown that the thermal efficiency is significantly lower than that of an engine operating on
a Carnot cycle between the same temperature limits. The loss of efficiency is due to
external irreversibilities which are present in all devices producing power output.
It has been shown that a combined cycle power plant cannot operate at a higher thermal
efficiency than a single cycle plant between the same temperature limits. However, the use
of two cycles enables the temperature limits to be widened, and thus better efficiencies are
achieved.