Thermal Efficiency - Heat Engines - Engine Cycle Efficiency

Engine Cycle Efficiency

The Carnot cycle is reversible and thus represents the upper limit on efficiency of an engine cycle. Practical engine cycles are irreversible and thus have inherently lower efficiency than the Carnot efficiency when operated between the same temperatures and . One of the factors determining efficiency is how heat is added to the working fluid in the cycle, and how it is removed. The Carnot cycle achieves maximum efficiency because all the heat is added to the working fluid at the maximum temperature, and removed at the minimum temperature . In contrast, in an internal combustion engine, the temperature of the fuel-air mixture in the cylinder is nowhere near its peak temperature as the fuel starts to burn, and only reaches the peak temperature as all the fuel is consumed, so the average temperature at which heat is added is lower, reducing efficiency.

An important parameter in the efficiency of combustion engines is the specific heat ratio of the air-fuel mixture, γ. This varies somewhat with the fuel, but is generally close to the air value of 1.4. This standard value is usually used in the engine cycle equations below, and when this approximation is made the cycle is called an air-standard cycle.

  • Otto cycle: automobiles The Otto cycle is the name for the cycle used in spark-ignition internal combustion engines such as gasoline and hydrogen fueled automobile engines. Its theoretical efficiency depends on the compression ratio r of the engine and the specific heat ratio γ of the gas in the combustion chamber.
Thus, the efficiency increases with the compression ratio. However the compression ratio of Otto cycle engines is limited by the need to prevent the uncontrolled combustion known as knocking. Modern engines have compression ratios in the range 8 to 11, resulting in ideal cycle efficiencies of 56% to 61%.
  • Diesel cycle: trucks and trains In the Diesel cycle used in diesel truck and train engines, the fuel is ignited by compression in the cylinder. The efficiency of the Diesel cycle is dependent on r and γ like the Otto cycle, and also by the cutoff ratio, rc, which is the ratio of the cylinder volume at the beginning and end of the combustion process:
The Diesel cycle is less efficient than the Otto cycle when using the same compression ratio. However, practical Diesel engines are 30% - 35% more efficient than gasoline engines. This is because, since the fuel is not introduced to the combustion chamber until it is required for ignition, the compression ratio is not limited by the need to avoid knocking, so higher ratios are used than in spark ignition engines.
  • Rankine cycle: steam power plants The Rankine cycle is the cycle used in steam turbine power plants. The overwhelming majority of the world's electric power is produced with this cycle. Since the cycle's working fluid, water, changes from liquid to vapor and back during the cycle, their efficiencies depend on the thermodynamic properties of water. The thermal efficiency of modern steam turbine plants with reheat cycles can reach 47%, and in combined cycle plants, in which a steam turbine is powered by exhaust heat from a gas turbine, it can approach 60%.
  • Brayton cycle: gas turbines and jet engines The Brayton cycle is the cycle used in gas turbines and jet engines. It consists of a compressor that increases pressure of the incoming air, then fuel is continuously added to the flow and burned, and the hot exhaust gasses are expanded in a turbine. The efficiency depends largely on the ratio of the pressure inside the combustion chamber p2 to the pressure outside p1

Read more about this topic:  Thermal Efficiency, Heat Engines

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