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# Combustion Concepts

## T here are at least two ways to describe a furnaces

thermal performance. The percent-available heat[1]
indicates thermal efficiency, while the adiabatic flame
temperature [2] indicates heat-transfer intensity. Both
factors can be used to indicate a furnaces productivity.
The combustion heat initially shows up as sensible heat in the
Table 1 displays the relevant enthalpy data obtained from FREED.[6]
Table 2 displays the amounts of reactants and products.[1] When
reactants enter at temperatures between 0 and 100C, we can use
Cp = 29.16 J/g-mole-deg, and for CH4, Cp = 36.0 J/g-mole-deg.
Equations 1a and 1b show the heat effects for step 1, and
combustion products. The adiabatic flame temperature (AFT) is the Equation 2 is the Hcomb for methane (step 2). The algebraic sum
highest-attainable flame temperature before any appreciable heat of these terms must equal the value of step 3 (+807,200 J), which
has been transferred to the charge. Heat is is the HAFT H25 of the combustion gas.
transferred from the combustion gas to the
Cool 13.33 moles of air from 38-25C: H25 H38 = [1a]
charge mainly by radiation, which is propor- 13.33(29.16)(25 38) = 5,050 J
tional to the 4th power of temperature.[3]
Heat one mole of CH4 from 20-25C: H25 H20 = 36(25 20) = +180 J [1b]
Clearly, the higher the AFT, the more
Fuel combustion: CH4 + 2O2 CO2 + 2H2O(g);
effective the flame is in transferring heat to [2]
Hcomb at 25C = 802,330 J.
the furnace contents. The calculated AFT
is never attained in practice but is closely The heat-content equation for each Table 1 species was
approached when combustion is rapid, and multiplied by the species amount (Table 2). Equation 3 shows the
the flame does not directly impinge on the sum of the combined terms set to zero. The quadratic formula[7]
furnace contents or walls. The AFT is mainly used to compare was used to calculate the AFT.
changes in thermal intensity for different combustion settings (i.e.
0.02430(T2) + 488.25T 847,800 = 0; AFT = 1608C [3]
type of fuel, % excess air, oxygen enrichment, etc.). Here we show
how to make an AFT calculation for methane (CH4) burned with The workbook at www.industrialheating.com/AFT-Calc.xlsx
40% excess air. does all this arithmetic and more, and you can customize it for
Fuel
Flame: Theoretical vs. Actual (Equilibrium) AFT
Burner
CO2, H2O, O2, N2
Oxidant The AFT calculated in Equation 3 is called the theoretical AFT
because it assumes that the combustion products are entirely
CO2 and H2O. Above about 1650C, however, there is significant
equilibrium disproportionation of CO2 and H2O to other gases,
Calculation Procedure plus the formation of NO(g). The workbook shows the difference
Figure 1 shows the three steps for calculating an AFT. Please between the theoretical and actual AFT. This will be the subject
download workbook AFT-Calc.xlsx, which has details of this of a later article. IH
example and handles several fuels at variable % excess air. The heat
effects of steps 1 and 2 are easily calculated using techniques from References available online
earlier columns.[4,5] However, a different procedure is required for
the heat effect of step 3. To illustrate, we show the AFT calculation Table 1. Heat content equation parameters; (C, J/g-mole) = A + BT + CT2
when air enters at 38C (100F) and methane enters at 20C (68F). N2, 900 - 1900C O2, 900 - 1900C
A B C A B C
Fig. 1. Diagrammatic representation of an AFT -3
-2,420 31.77 1.229x10 -2,510 33.70 1.173x10-3
calculation: Step 1 is the heat effect of bringing AFT
H2O(g), 900 - 1900C CO2, 900 - 1900C
the reactants to 25C, step 2 is the fuels Hcomb
and step 3 is the heat content of the combustion A B C A B C
products at the AFT. -3,120 36.61 4.20x10-3 -6,850 53.43 2.006x10-3
3
2
Table 2. Moles of species for the combustion of one mole of methane
1 H comb at 25C with 40% excess air
Oxidant XS oxidant H2O(g) CO2 N2 O2
13.33 3.81 2.00 1.00 10.53 0.80