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
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Efficient promotion of methane hydrate formation and elimination of foam generation using fluorinated surfactants
Quan CAO, Dongyan XU, Huanfei XU, Shengjun LUO, Rongbo GUO
Front. Energy    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11708-020-0683-2
Abstract   HTML   PDF (1096KB)

Methane hydrate preparation is an effective method to store and transport methane. In promoters to facilitate methane hydrate formation, homogeneous surfactant solutions, sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) in particular, are more favorable than heterogeneous particles, thanks to their faster reaction rate, more storage capacity, and higher stability. Foaming, however, could not be avoided during hydrate dissociation with the presence of SDS. This paper investigated the ability of five fluorinated surfactants: potassium perfluorobutane sulfonate (PBS), potassium perfluorohexyl sulfonate (PHS), potassium perfluorooctane sulfonate (POS), ammonium perfluorooctane sulfonate (AOS), and tetraethylammonium perfluorooctyl sulfonate (TOS) to promote methane hydrate formation. It was found that both PBS and PHS achieve a storage capacity of 150 (V/V, the volume of methane that can be stored by one volume of water) within 30 min, more than that of SDS. Cationic ions and the carbon chain length were then discussed on their effects during the formation. It was concluded that PBS, PHS, and POS produced no foam during hydrate dissociation, making them promising promoters in large-scale application.

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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    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11708-020-0667-2
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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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A building unit decomposition model for energy leakage by infrared thermography image analysis
Yan SU, Fangjun HONG, Lianjie SHU
Front. Energy    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11708-020-0679-y
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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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Mercury emission and adsorption characteristics of fly ash in PC and CFB boilers
Li JIA, Baoguo FAN, Xianrong ZHENG, Xiaolei QIAO, Yuxing YAO, Rui ZHAO, Jinrong GUO, Yan JIN
Front. Energy    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11708-020-0682-3
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The mercury emission was obtained by measuring the mercury contents in flue gas and solid samples in pulverized coal (PC) and circulating fluidized bed (CFB) utility boilers. The relationship was obtained between the mercury emission and adsorption characteristics of fly ash. The parameters included unburned carbon content, particle size, and pore structure of fly ash. The results showed that the majority of mercury released to the atmosphere with the flue gas in PC boiler, while the mercury was enriched in fly ash and captured by the precipitator in CFB boiler. The coal factor was proposed to characterize the impact of coal property on mercury emissions in this paper. As the coal factor increased, the mercury emission to the atmosphere decreased. It was also found that the mercury content of fly ash in the CFB boiler was ten times higher than that in the PC boiler. As the unburned carbon content increased, the mercury adsorbed increased. The capacity of adsorbing mercury by fly ash was directly related to the particle size. The particle size corresponding to the highest content of mercury, which was about 560 ng/g, appeared in the range from 77.5 to 106 µm. The content of mesoporous (4–6 nm) of the fly ash in the particle size of 77.5–106 µm was the highest, which was beneficial to adsorbing the mercury. The specific surface area played a more significant role than specific pore volume in the mercury adsorption process.

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Key issues in development of offshore natural gas hydrate
Shouwei ZHOU, Qingping LI, Xin LV, Qiang FU, Junlong ZHU
Front. Energy    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11708-020-0684-1
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As a new clean energy resource in the 21st century, natural gas hydrate is considered as one of the most promising strategic resources in the future. This paper, based on the research progress in exploitation of natural gas hydrate (NGH) in China and the world, systematically reviewed and discussed the key issues in development of natural gas hydrate. From an exploitation point of view, it is recommended that the concepts of diagenetic hydrate and non-diagenetic hydrate be introduced. The main factors to be considered are whether diagenesis, stability of rock skeleton structure, particle size and cementation mode, thus NGHs are divided into 6 levels and used unused exploitation methods according to different types. The study of the description and quantitative characterization of abundance in hydrate enrichment zone, and looking for gas hydrate dessert areas with commercial exploitation value should be enhanced. The concept of dynamic permeability and characterization of the permeability of NGH by time-varying equations should be established. The ‘Three-gas co-production’ (natural gas hydrate, shallow gas, and conventional gas) may be an effective way to achieve early commercial exploitation. Although great progress has been made in the exploitation of natural gas hydrate, there still exist enormous challenges in basic theory research, production methods, and equipment and operation modes. Only through hard and persistent exploration and innovation can natural gas hydrate be truly commercially developed on a large scale and contribute to sustainable energy supply.

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Simulation of performance of intermediate fluid vaporizer under wide operation conditions
Bojie WANG, Wen WANG, Chao QI, Yiwu KUANG, Jiawei XU
Front. Energy    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11708-020-0681-4
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The intermediate fluid vaporizer (IFV) is a typical vaporizer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), which in general consists of three shell-and-tube heat exchangers (an evaporator, a condenser, and a thermolator). LNG is heated by seawater and the intermediate fluid in these heat exchangers. A one-dimensional heat transfer model for IFV is established in this paper in order to investigate the influences of structure and operation parameters on the heat transfer performance. In the rated condition, it is suggested to reduce tube diameters appropriately to get a large total heat transfer coefficient and increase the tube number to ensure the sufficient heat transfer area. According to simulation results, although the IFV capacity is much larger than the simplified-IFV (SIFV) capacity, the mode of SIFV could be recommended in some low-load cases as well. In some cases at high loads exceeding the capacity of a single IFV, it is better to add an AAV or an SCV operating to the IFV than just to increase the mass flow rate of seawater in the IFV in LNG receiving terminals.

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Effects of pyrolyzed semi-char blend ratio on coal combustion and pollution emission in a 0.35 MW pulverized coal-fired furnace
Yonghong YAN, Liutao SUN, Zhengkang PENG, Hongliang QI, Li LIU, Rui SUN
Front. Energy    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11708-020-0678-z
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The effects of blend ratio on combustion and pollution emission characteristics for co-combustion of Shenmu pyrolyzed semi-char (SC), i.e., residuals of the coal pyrolysis chemical processing, and Shenhua bituminous coal (SB) were investigated in a 0.35 MW pilot-scale pulverized coal-fired furnace. The gas temperature and concentrations of gaseous species (O2, CO, CO2, NOx and HCN) were measured in the primary combustion zone at different blend ratios. It is found that the standoff distance of ignition changes monotonically from 132 to 384 mm with the increase in pyrolyzed semi-char blend ratio. The effects on the combustion characteristics may be neglected when the blend ratio is less than 30%. Above the 30% blend ratio, the increase in blend ratio postpones ignition in the primary stage and lowers the burnout rate. With the blend ratio increasing, NOx emission at the furnace exit is smallest for the 30% blend ratio and highest for the 100% SC. The NOx concentration was 425 mg/m3 at 6% O2 and char burnout was 76.23% for the 45% blend ratio. The above results indicate that the change of standoff distance and NOx emission were not obvious when the blend ratio of semi-char is less than 45%, and carbon burnout changed a little at all blend ratios. The goal of this study is to achieve blending combustion with a large proportion of semi-char without great changes in combustion characteristics. So, an SC blend ratio of no more than 45% can be suitable for the burning of semi-char.

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Numerical study of conduction and radiation heat losses from vacuum annulus in parabolic trough receivers
Dongqiang LEI, Yucong REN, Zhifeng WANG
Front. Energy    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11708-020-0670-7
Abstract   HTML   PDF (1388KB)

Parabolic trough receiver is a key component to convert solar energy into thermal energy in the parabolic trough solar system. The heat loss of the receiver has an important influence on the thermal efficiency and the operating cost of the power station. In this paper, conduction and radiation heat losses are analyzed respectively to identify the heat loss mechanism of the receiver. A 2-D heat transfer model is established by using the direct simulation Monte Carlo method for rarefied gas flow and heat transfer within the annulus of the receiver to predict the conduction heat loss caused by residual gases. The numerical results conform to the experimental results, and show the temperature of the glass envelope and heat loss for various conditions in detail. The effects of annulus pressure, gas species, temperature of heat transfer fluid, and annulus size on the conduction and radiation heat losses are systematically analyzed. Besides, the main factors that cause heat loss are analyzed, providing a theoretical basis for guiding the improvement of receiver, as well as the operation and maintenance strategy to reduce heat loss.

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Influence of Fe on electrocatalytic activity of iron-nitrogen-doped carbon materials toward oxygen reduction reaction
Lin LI, Cehuang FU, Shuiyun SHEN, Fangling JIANG, Guanghua WEI, Junliang ZHANG
Front. Energy    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11708-020-0669-0
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The development of highly active nitrogen-doped carbon-based transition metal (M-N-C) compounds for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) greatly helps reduce fuel cell cost, thus rapidly promoting their commercial applications. Among different M-N-C electrocatalysts, the series of Fe-N-C materials are highly favored because of their high ORR activity. However, there remains a debate on the effect of Fe, and rare investigations focus on the influence of Fe addition in the second heat treatment usually performed after acid leaching in the catalyst synthesis. It is thus very critical to explore the influences of Fe on the ORR electrocatalytic activity, which will, in turn, guide the design of Fe-N-C materials with enhanced performance. Herein, a series of Fe-N-C electrocatalysts are synthesize and the influence of Fe on the ORR activity are speculated both experimentally and theoretically. It is deduced that the active site lies in the structure of Fe-N4, accompanied with the addition of appropriate Fe, and the number of active sites increases without the occurrence of agglomeration particles. Moreover, it is speculated that Fe plays an important role in stabilizing N as well as constituting active sites in the second pyrolyzing process.

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Effective diffusivity of oxygen in the ash layer of Huadian oil shale semicoke
Yiqun HUANG, Yiran LI, Man ZHANG, Boyu DENG, Hao KONG, Junfeng WANG, Junfu LYU, Hairui YANG, Lingmei WANG
Front. Energy    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11708-020-0674-3
Abstract   HTML   PDF (1242KB)

Diffusion of oxygen in the ash layer usually dominated the combustion of oil shale semicoke particles due to the high ash content. Thus, effective diffusivity of oxygen in the ash layer was a crucial parameter worthy of careful investigation. In this paper, the effective diffusivity of oxygen in the ash layer of Huadian oil shale semicoke was measured directly using an improved Wicke-Kallenbach diffusion apparatus. The experimental results showed that higher temperature would lead to a higher effective diffusivity and a thicker ash layer had the negative effect. Especially, the effective diffusivity along the direction perpendicular to bedding planes was much lower than that along the direction parallel to bedding planes. In addition, an effective diffusivity model was developed, which could be used to describe the mass transfer of oxygen in the ash layer of oil shale semicoke.

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