Glass - Back to the Future!

Presenting Author:
Jörg Leicher

article posted 14 Jan 2016

Jörg Leicher currently leads GWI's Numerical Simulations Group where the focus of his work is on the simulation of industrial combustion processes. He holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from the Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, and is the author of numerous papers on applied CFD, industrial combustion processes, natural gas quality and related topics. Before joining GWI in 2009, he worked with Institut Français du Pètrole (IFP) in Lyon, France, and ANSYS Germany in Munich.

Modeling Oxy-Fuel Combustion in Industrial Furnaces:
Challenges and Advances

Jörg Leicher*, Anne Giese, Klaus Görner

Gas- und Wärme-Institut Essen e. V. (GWI), Hafenstrasse 101, 45356 Essen, Germany

CFD (CFD: Computational Fluid Dynamics) simulations of industrial furnaces have become an integral part of the design process in many thermal processing industries. CFD studies can provide detailed insight into the complex phenomena in industrial furnaces, including flow fields, combustion, heat transfer and pollutant formation, making them a powerful tool for design and optimization purposes. However, despite significant advances with regards to computing power in the last decades, the inherent complexity of combustion processes means that chemical models, based on simplifying assumptions, are required. These models are always a compromise between applicability and accuracy on the one hand and the numerical effort involved on the other hand. Most combustion models found in today's commercially available CFD codes were developed for the combustion of a fuel (in the context of processing industries usually natural gas or, simplified, methane) with air.

In recent years, however, the use of oxy-fuel combustion, i.e. the combustion of natural gas with pure oxygen, to obtain high process temperatures has become more and more widespread in many thermal processing industries. This combustion technology offers significant advantages compared to traditional air-preheating such as increased heat transfer and potentially extremely low nitrogen oxide emissions.

From the simulation point of view, oxy-fuel combustion can be a significant challenge as many industrially popular combustion models are unable to describe this process accurately. The models which provide satisfactory results for this form of combustion, on the other hand, tend to be too numerically expensive to be used as part of an industrial design process.

In the course of a German research project, GWI (Gas- und Wärme-Institut Essen e. V.) in cooperation with its partners, investigated ways to improve the modeling of oxy-fuel combustion for the simulation of industrial furnaces with reasonable numerical cost. The findings of this project will be presented.