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Frontiers in Energy

ISSN 2095-1701 (Print)
ISSN 2095-1698 (Online)
CN 11-6017/TK
Postal Subscription Code 80-972
Formerly Known as Frontiers of Energy and Power Engineering in China
2019 Impact Factor: 2.657

, Volume 14 Issue 4

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Development of mobile miniature natural gas liquefiers
Yanxing ZHAO, Maoqiong GONG, Haocheng WANG, Hao GUO, Xueqiang DONG
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 667-682.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (3752KB)

With increasing consumption of natural gas (NG), small NG reservoirs, such as coalbed methane and oil field associated gas, have recently drawn significant attention. Owing to their special characteristics (e.g., scattered distribution and small output), small-scale NG liquefiers are highly required. Similarly, the mixed refrigerant cycle (MRC) is suitable for small-scale liquefaction systems due to its moderate complexity and power consumption. In consideration of the above, this paper reviews the development of mobile miniature NG liquefiers in Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry (TIPC), China. To effectively liquefy the scattered NG and overcome the drawbacks of existing technologies, three main improvements, i.e., low-pressure MRC process driven by oil-lubricated screw compressor, compact cold box with the new designed heat exchangers, and standardized equipment manufacturing and integrated process technology have been made. The development pattern of “rapid cluster application and flexible liquefaction center” has been eventually proposed. The small-scale NG liquefier developed by TIPC has reached a minimum liquefaction power consumption of about 0.35 kW·h/Nm3. It is suitable to exploit small remote gas reserves which can also be used in boil-off gas reliquefaction and distributed peak-shaving of pipe networks.

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Comprehensive comparison of small-scale natural gas liquefaction processes using brazed plate heat exchangers
Jitan WU, Yonglin JU
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 683-698.
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The brazed plate heat exchanger (BPHE) has some advantages over the plate-fin heat exchanger (PFHE) when used in natural gas liquefaction processes, such as the convenient installation and transportation, as well as the high tolerance of carbon dioxide (CO2) impurities. However, the BPHEs with only two channels cannot be applied directly in the conventional liquefaction processes which are designed for multi-stream heat exchangers. Therefore, the liquefaction processes using BPHEs are different from the conventional PFHE processes. In this paper, four different liquefaction processes using BPHEs are optimized and comprehensively compared under respective optimal conditions. The processes are compared with respect to energy consumption, economic performance, and robustness. The genetic algorithm (GA) is applied as the optimization method and the total revenue requirement (TRR) method is adopted in the economic analysis. The results show that the modified single mixed refrigerant (MSMR) process with part of the refrigerant flowing back to the compressor at low temperatures has the lowest specific energy consumption but the worst robustness of the four processes. The MSMR with fully utilization of cold capacity of the refrigerant shows a satisfying robustness and the best economic performance. The research in this paper is helpful for the application of BPHEs in natural gas liquefaction processes.

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Development and technical progress in large-scale circulating fluidized bed boiler in China
Zhong HUANG, Lei DENG, Defu CHE
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 699-714.
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Circulating fluidized bed (CFB) boilers has realized the clean and efficient utilization of inferior coal like gangue and coal slime, high sulfur coal, anthracite, petroleum coke, oil shale and other resources. As a country with the largest amount of CFB boilers and the largest installed capacity in the world, China has 440 100–600 MWe CFB boilers with a total capacity of 82.29 GWe, including 227 units of 135 MWe, 95 units of 300 MWe, and 24 supercritical units. The statistics of typical 100–300 MWe CFB boilers showed that the average number of unplanned shut-down was only 0.37 times per year, among which the 135 MWe was 0.26 times per year and 300 MWe was 0.46 times per year. The auxiliary power ratio of some 300 MWe CFB boilers based on flow-pattern reconstruction can be reduced to about 4%, which is closed to the same level of pulverized coal (PC) boilers. This paper summarizes the development process and application status of China’s large-scale CFB boilers, analyzes the characteristics and technical performance of the iconic units, and introduces solutions to the problems such as water wall wear and bottom ash cooling.

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Design and application of a novel coal-fired drum boiler using saline water in heavy oil recovery
Junping GU, Yuxin WU, Liping WU, Man ZHANG, Hairui YANG, Junfu LYU
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 715-725.
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In this paper, the design and operation of a novel coal-fired circulating fluidized bed (CFB) drum boiler that can generate superheated steam using saline water were introduced. The natural circulation water dynamics with a drum was adopted instead of the traditional once-through steam generator (OTSG) design, so that superheated steam can be generated for the better performance of the steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) technology in heavy oil recovery. The optimized staged evaporation method was proposed to further decrease the salinity of water in the clean water section of the boiler. The evaporating pipes of the salted water section were rearranged in the back pass of the boiler, where the heat load is low, to further improve the heat transfer safety. A CFB combustion technology was used for coal firing to achieve a uniform heat transfer condition with low heat flux. Pollutant control technologies were adopted to reduce pollutant emissions. Based on the field test, the recommended water standard for the coal-fired CFB drum boilers was determined. With the present technology, the treated recovery wastewater can be reused in steam-injection boilers to generate superheated steam. The engineering applications show that the boiler efficiency is higher than 90%, the blowdown rate is limited within 5.5%, and the superheat of steam can reach up to 30 K. Besides, the heavy oil recovery efficiency is significantly improved. Moreover, the pollutant emissions of SO2, NOx and dust are controlled within the ranges of 20–90 mg/(N·m3), 30–90 mg/(N·m3) and 2–10 mg/(N·m3) respectively.

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Can the Shanghai LNG Price Index indicate Chinese market? An econometric investigation using price discovery theory
Yeli ZENG, Cong DONG, Mikael HÖÖK, Jinhua SUN, Danyang SHI
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 726-739.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (1342KB)

China became the world’s second largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) importer in 2018 but has faced extremely high import costs due to a lack of bargaining power. Assessments of the Shanghai LNG Price Index, first released in 2015, are vital for improving the understanding of these cost dynamics. This paper, using the LNG price index data from the Shanghai Petroleum and Gas Exchange (SHPGX) coupled with domestic and international LNG prices from July 1, 2015 to December 31, 2018, estimates several econometric models to evaluate the long-term and short-term equilibriums of the Shanghai LNG Price Index, the responses to market information shocks and the leading or lagging relationships with LNG and alternative energy prices from other agencies. The results show that the LNG price index of the SHPGX has already exhibited a long-term equilibrium and short-term adjustment mechanisms to reflect the average price level and market movements, but the market information transparency and price discovery efficiency of the index are still inadequate. China’s LNG market is still relatively independent of other natural gas markets, and marketization reforms are under way in China. The influence of the SHPGX LNG price index on the trading decisions of market participants is expected to improve with further development of China’s LNG reforms, the formation of a natural gas entry-exit system, and the increasing liquidity of the hub.

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Peak CO2 emission in the region dominated by coal use and heavy chemical industries: a case study of Dezhou city in China
Sheng ZHOU, Maosheng DUAN, Zhiyi YUAN, Xunmin OU
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 740-758.
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This paper studies the pathways of peaking CO2 emissions of Dezhou city in China, by employing a bottom-up sector analysis model and considering future economic growth, the adjustment of the industrial structure, and the trend of energy intensity. Two scenarios (a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario and a CO2 mitigation scenario (CMS)) are set up. The results show that in the BAU scenario, the final energy consumption will peak at 25.93 million tons of coal equivalent (Mtce) (16% growth versus 2014) in 2030. In the CMS scenario, the final energy will peak in 2020 at 23.47 Mtce (9% lower versus peak in the BAU scenario). The total primary energy consumption will increase by 12% (BAU scenario) and decrease by 3% (CMS scenario) in 2030, respectively, compared to that in 2014. In the BAU scenario, CO2 emission will peak in 2025 at 70 million tons of carbon dioxide (MtCO2), and subsequently decrease gradually in 2030. In the CMS scenario, the peak has occurred in 2014, and 60 MtCO2 will be emitted in 2030. Active policies including restructuring the economy, improving energy efficiency, capping coal consumption, and using more low-carbon /carbon free fuel are recommended in Dezhou city peaked CO2 emission as early as possible.

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Preparation and lithium storage performances of g-C3N4/Si nanocomposites as anode materials for lithium-ion battery
Zhengxu BIAN, Zehua TANG, Jinfeng XIE, Junhao ZHANG, Xingmei GUO, Yuanjun LIU, Aihua YUAN, Feng ZHANG, Qinghong KONG
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 759-766.
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As the anode material of lithium-ion battery, silicon-based materials have a high theoretical capacity, but their volume changes greatly in the charging and discharging process. To ameliorate the volume expansion issue of silicon-based anode materials, g-C3N4/Si nanocomposites are prepared by using the magnesium thermal reduction technique. It is well known that g-C3N4/Si nanocomposites can not only improve the electronic transmission ability, but also ameliorate the physical properties of the material for adapting the stress and strain caused by the volume expansion of silicon in the lithiation and delithiation process. When g-C3N4/Si electrode is evaluated, the initial discharge capacity of g-C3N4/Si nanocomposites is as high as 1033.3 mAh/g at 0.1 A/g, and its reversible capacity is maintained at 548 mAh/g after 400 cycles. Meanwhile, the improved rate capability is achieved with a relatively high reversible specific capacity of 218 mAh/g at 2.0 A/g. The superior lithium storage performances benefit from the unique g-C3N4/Si nanostructure, which improves electroconductivity, reduces volume expansion, and accelerates lithium-ion transmission compared to pure silicon.

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Thermal annealing synthesis of double-shell truncated octahedral Pt-Ni alloys for oxygen reduction reaction of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells
Xiashuang LUO, Yangge GUO, Hongru ZHOU, Huan REN, Shuiyun SHEN, Guanghua WEI, Junliang ZHANG
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 767-777.
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Shape-controlled Pt-Ni alloys usually offer an exceptional electrocatalytic activity toward the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs), whose tricks lie in well-designed structures and surface morphologies. In this paper, a novel synthesis of truncated octahedral PtNi3.5 alloy catalysts that consist of homogeneous Pt-Ni alloy cores enclosed by NiO-Pt double shells through thermally annealing defective heterogeneous PtNi3.5 alloys is reported. By tracking the evolution of both compositions and morphologies, the outward segregation of both PtOx and NiO are first observed in Pt-Ni alloys. It is speculated that the diffusion of low-coordination atoms results in the formation of an energetically favorable truncated octahedron while the outward segregation of oxides leads to the formation of NiO-Pt double shells. It is very attractive that after gently removing the NiO outer shell, the dealloyed truncated octahedral core-shell structure demonstrates a greatly enhanced ORR activity. The as-obtained truncated octahedral Pt2.1Ni core-shell alloy presents a 3.4-folds mass-specific activity of that for unannealed sample, and its activity preserves 45.4% after 30000 potential cycles of accelerated degradation test (ADT). The peak power density of the dealloyed truncated octahedral Pt2.1Ni core-shell alloy catalyst based membrane electrolyte assembly (MEA) reaches 679.8 mW/cm2, increased by 138.4 mW/cm2 relative to that based on commercial Pt/C.

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Effects of fuel combination and IVO timing on combustion and emissions of a dual-fuel HCCI combustion engine
Xin LIANG, Jianyong ZHANG, Zhongzhao LI, Jiabo ZHANG, Zhen HUANG, Dong HAN
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 778-789.
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This paper experimentally and numerically studied the effects of fuel combination and intake valve opening (IVO) timing on combustion and emissions of an n-heptane and gasoline dual-fuel homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) engine. By changing the gasoline fraction (GF) from 0.1 to 0.5 and the IVO timing from –15°CA ATDC to 35°CA ATDC, the in-cylinder pressure traces, heat release behaviors, and HC and CO emissions were investigated. The results showed that both the increased GF and the retarded IVO timing delay the combustion phasing, lengthen the combustion duration, and decrease the peak heat release rate and the maximum average combustion temperature, whereas the IVO timing has a more obvious influence on combustion than GF. HC and CO emissions are decreased with reduced GF, advanced IVO timing and increased operational load.

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Experimental investigation of a novel micro gas turbine with flexible switching function for distributed power system
Xiaojing LV, Weilun ZENG, Xiaoyi DING, Yiwu WENG, Shilie WENG
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 790-800.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (1646KB)

Micro gas turbine (MGT) is widely used in small-scale distributed power systems because of its low emissions and fuel flexibility. However, the under-utilization of its exhaust heat and the low electric efficiency are the main bottlenecks that restrict its application. Additionally, the flexible switching between the power generated by the MGT and the power grid is also a key factor for keeping the secure operation of a distributed power station. Therefore, this paper conducted some experimental investigations of a 30 kW MGT to provide reference solutions for the above issues. This MGT is located at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), which is designed by the Gas Turbine Research Institute of SJTU, and is manufactured by a turbo-machinery factory in Chongqing, China. The demonstration prototype is mainly composed of a single stage centrifugal compressor, a radial turbine, a combustor, a high-speed permanent magnet generator, and a control system. The results show that the MGT can achieve steady operation at a low rotational speed from 10000 r/min to 34000 r/min in the case of using oil lubricated bearings, which can greatly reduce the economic cost compared with the use of air bearings. At the same time, the ignition success rate of combustion chamber (CC) reaches 98% at a low rotational speed, and a wide range of stable combustion area can be obtained, because of the novel design method of combustor by referencing the way applied in an axial flow aero-engine. The MGT generating set can achieve functions, such as starting up, ignition, stable operation, loaded operation, grid-connection and stopping. This system also can realize flexibly switching from the start motor mode to the generator mode, and from grid-connected mode to off-grid mode, because the innovative multi-state switching control system is adopted. The above research work can make our state master independent intellectual property rights of micro gas turbine, rather than continue to be subject to the technological monopoly of the developed states, which can provide theoretical and experimental support for the industrialization of MGT in China.

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An operating state estimation model for integrated energy systems based on distributed solution
Dengji ZHOU, Shixi MA, Dawen HUANG, Huisheng ZHANG, Shilie WENG
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 801-816.
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In view of the disadvantages of the traditional energy supply systems, such as separate planning, separate design, independent operating mode, and the increasingly prominent nonlinear coupling between various sub-systems, the production, transmission, storage and consumption of multiple energy sources are coordinated and optimized by the integrated energy system, which improves energy and infrastructure utilization, promotes renewable energy consumption, and ensures reliability of energy supply. In this paper, the mathematical model of the electricity-gas interconnected integrated energy system and its state estimation method are studied. First, considering the nonlinearity between measurement equations and state variables, a performance simulation model is proposed. Then, the state consistency equations and constraints of the coupling nodes for multiple energy sub-systems are established, and constraints are relaxed into the objective function to decouple the integrated energy system. Finally, a distributed state estimation framework is formed by combining the synchronous alternating direction multiplier method to achieve an efficient estimation of the state of the integrated energy system. A simulation model of an electricity-gas interconnected integrated energy system verifies the efficiency and accuracy of the state estimation method proposed in this paper. The results show that the average relative errors of voltage amplitude and node pressure estimated by the proposed distributed state estimation method are only 0.0132% and 0.0864%, much lower than the estimation error by using the Lagrangian relaxation method. Besides, compared with the centralized estimation method, the proposed distributed method saves 5.42 s of computation time. The proposed method is more accurate and efficient in energy allocation and utilization.

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Dynamic simulation of gas turbines via feature similarity-based transfer learning
Dengji ZHOU, Jiarui HAO, Dawen HUANG, Xingyun JIA, Huisheng ZHANG
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 817-835.
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Since gas turbine plays a key role in electricity power generating, the requirements on the safety and reliability of this classical thermal system are becoming gradually strict. With a large amount of renewable energy being integrated into the power grid, the request of deep peak load regulation for satisfying the varying demand of users and maintaining the stability of the whole power grid leads to more unstable working conditions of gas turbines. The startup, shutdown, and load fluctuation are dominating the operating condition of gas turbines. Hence simulating and analyzing the dynamic behavior of the engines under such instable working conditions are important in improving their design, operation, and maintenance. However, conventional dynamic simulation methods based on the physic differential equations is unable to tackle the uncertainty and noise when faced with variant real-world operations. Although data-driven simulating methods, to some extent, can mitigate the problem, it is impossible to perform simulations with insufficient data. To tackle the issue, a novel transfer learning framework is proposed to transfer the knowledge from the physics equation domain to the real-world application domain to compensate for the lack of data. A strong dynamic operating data set with steep slope signals is created based on physics equations and then a feature similarity-based learning model with an encoder and a decoder is built and trained to achieve feature adaptive knowledge transferring. The simulation accuracy is significantly increased by 24.6% and the predicting error reduced by 63.6% compared with the baseline model. Moreover, compared with the other classical transfer learning modes, the method proposed has the best simulating performance on field testing data set. Furthermore, the effect study on the hyper parameters indicates that the method proposed is able to adaptively balance the weight of learning knowledge from the physical theory domain or from the real-world operation domain.

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Robust SVM-direct torque control of induction motor based on sliding mode controller and sliding mode observer
Abdelkarim AMMAR, Amor BOUREK, Abdelhamid BENAKCHA
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 836-849.
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This paper proposes a design of control and estimation strategy for induction motor based on the variable structure approach. It describes a coupling of sliding mode direct torque control (DTC) with sliding mode flux and speed observer. This algorithm uses direct torque control basics and the sliding mode approach. A robust electromagnetic torque and flux controllers are designed to overcome the conventional SVM-DTC drawbacks and to ensure fast response and full reference tracking with desired dynamic behavior and low ripple level. The sliding mode controller is used to generate reference voltages in stationary frame and give them to the controlled motor after modulation by a space vector modulation (SVM) inverter. The second aim of this paper is to design a sliding mode speed/flux observer which can improve the control performances by using a sensorless algorithm to get an accurate estimation, and consequently, increase the reliability of the system and decrease the cost of using sensors. The effectiveness of the whole composed control algorithm is investigated in different robustness tests with simulation using Matlab/Simulink and verified by real time experimental implementation based on dS pace 1104 board.

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Viability of a concentrated solar power system in a low sun belt prefecture
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 850-866.
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Concentrating solar power (CSP) is considered as a comparatively economical, more efficient, and large capacity type of renewable energy technology. However, CSP generation is found restricted only to high solar radiation belt and installed where high direct normal irradiance is available. This paper examines the viability of the adoption of the CSP system in a low sun belt region with a lower direct normal irradiance (DNI). Various critical analyses and plant economics have been evaluated with a lesser DNI state. The obtained results out of the designed system, subjected to low DNI are not found below par, but comparable to some extent with the performance results of such CSP plants at a higher DNI. The analysis indicates that incorporation of the thermal energy storage reduces the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) and augments the plant capacity factor. The capacity factor, the plant efficiency, and the LCOE are found to be 32.50%, 17.56%, and 0.1952 $/kWh, respectively.

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Potential of performance improvement of concentrated solar power plants by optimizing the parabolic trough receiver
Honglun YANG, Qiliang WANG, Jingyu CAO, Gang PEI, Jing LI
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 867-881.
Abstract   HTML   PDF (2045KB)

This paper proposes a comprehensive thermodynamic and economic model to predict and compare the performance of concentrated solar power plants with traditional and novel receivers with different configurations involving operating temperatures and locations. The simulation results reveal that power plants with novel receivers exhibit a superior thermodynamic and economic performance compared with traditional receivers. The annual electricity productions of power plants with novel receivers in Phoenix, Sevilla, and Tuotuohe are 8.5%, 10.5%, and 14.4% higher than those with traditional receivers at the outlet temperature of 550°C. The levelized cost of electricity of power plants with double-selective-coated receivers can be decreased by 6.9%, 8.5%, and 11.6%. In Phoenix, the optimal operating temperature of the power plants is improved from 500°C to 560°C by employing a novel receiver. Furthermore, the sensitivity analysis of the receiver heat loss, solar absorption, and freeze protection temperature is also conducted to analyze the general rule of influence of the receiver performance on power plants performance. Solar absorption has a positive contribution to annual electricity productions, whereas heat loss and freeze protection temperature have a negative effect on electricity outputs. The results indicate that the novel receiver coupled with low melting temperature molten salt is the best configuration for improving the overall performance of the power plants.

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A spectrally selective surface structure for combined photothermic conversion and radiative sky cooling
Bin ZHAO, Xianze AO, Nuo CHEN, Qingdong XUAN, Mingke HU, Gang PEI
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 882-888.
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The sun and outer space are the ultimate heat and cold sources for the earth, respectively. They have significant potential for renewable energy harvesting. In this paper, a spectrally selective surface structure that has a planar polydimethylsiloxane layer covering a solar absorber is conceptually proposed and optically designed for the combination of photothermic conversion (PT) and nighttime radiative sky cooling (RC). An optical simulation is conducted whose result shows that the designed surface structure (i.e., PT-RC surface structure) has a strong solar absorption coefficient of 0.92 and simultaneously emits as a mid-infrared spectral-selective emitter with an average emissivity of 0.84 within the atmospheric window. A thermal analysis prediction reveals that the designed PT-RC surface structure can be heated to 79.1°C higher than the ambient temperature in the daytime and passively cooled below the ambient temperature of approximately 10°C in the nighttime, indicating that the designed PT-RC surface structure has the potential for integrated PT conversion and nighttime RC utilization.

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A comparative thermodynamic analysis of Kalina and organic Rankine cycles for hot dry rock: a prospect study in the Gonghe Basin
Xuelin ZHANG, Tong ZHANG, Xiaodai XUE, Yang SI, Xuemin ZHANG, Shengwei MEI
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 889-900.
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Hot dry rock is a new type of geothermal resource which has a promising application prospect in China. This paper conducted a comparative research on performance evaluation of two eligible bottoming cycles for a hot dry rock power plant in the Gonghe Basin. Based on the given heat production conditions, a Kalina cycle and three organic Rankine cycles were tested respectively with different ammonia-water mixtures of seven ammonia mass fractions and nine eco-friendly working fluids. The results show that the optimal ammonia mass fraction is 82% for the proposed bottoming Kalina cycle in view of maximum net power output. Thermodynamic analysis suggests that wet fluids should be supercritical while dry fluids should be saturated at the inlet of turbine, respectively. The maximum net power output of the organic Rankine cycle with dry fluids expanding from saturated state is higher than that of the other organic Rankine cycle combinations, and is far higher than the maximum net power output in all tested Kalina cycle cases. Under the given heat production conditions of hot dry rock resource in the Gonghe Basin, the saturated organic Rankine cycle with the dry fluid butane as working fluid generates the largest amount of net power.

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A building unit decomposition model for energy leakage by infrared thermography image analysis
Yan SU, Fangjun HONG, Lianjie SHU
Front. Energy. 2020, 14 (4): 901-921.
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A quantitative energy leakage model was developed based on the thermography image data measured for both external and internal building surfaces. The infrared thermography images of both surfaces of doors, windows, and walls of an office building in the Hengqin Campus of University of Macao were taken at various times in a day for four seasons. The transient heat flux for sample units were obtained based on measurements of the seasonal transient local temperature differences and calculations of the effective thermal conductivity from the multiple-layer porous medium conduction model. Effects of construction unit types, orientations, and seasons were quantitatively investigated with unit transient orientation index factors. The corresponding electric energy consumption was calculated based on the air conditioning system coefficient of performance of heat pump and refrigerator cycles for different seasons. The model was validated by comparing to the electric meter records of energy consumption of the air conditioning system. The uncertainties of the predicted total building energy leakage are about 14.7%, 12.8%, 12.4%, and 15.8% for the four seasons, respectively. The differences between the predicted electric consumption and meter values are less than 13.4% and 5.4% for summer and winter, respectively. The typical daily thermal energy leakage value in winter is the highest among the four seasons. However, the daily electric energy consumption by the air conditioning system in summer and autumn is higher than that in winter. The present decomposition model for energy leakage is expected to provide a practical tool for quantitative analysis of energy leakage of buildings.

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18 articles