Energies2015, 8(4), 2587-2605; doi:10.3390/en8042587 (registering DOI) - published 31 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In this work, the effects of the electric fields on the flame propagation and combustion characteristics of lean premixed methane–air mixtures were experimentally investigated in a constant volume chamber. Results show that the flame front is remarkably stretched by the applied electric field, the stretched flame propagation velocity and the average flame propagation velocity are all accelerated significantly as the input voltage increases. This indicates that the applied electric field can augment the stretch in flame, and the result is more obvious for leaner mixture. According to the analyses of the combustion pressure variation and the heat release rate, the peak combustion pressure Pmax increases and its appearance time tp is advanced with the increase of the input voltage. For the mixture of λ = 1.6 at the input voltage of −12 kV, Pmax increases by almost 12.3%, and tp is advanced by almost 31.4%, compared to the case of without electric fields. In addition, the normalized mass burning rate and the accumulated mass fraction burned are all enhanced substantially, and the flame development duration and the rapid burning duration are remarkably reduced with the increase of the input voltage, and again, the influence of electric field is more profound for leaner mixtures. The results can be explained by the electric field-induced stretch effects on lean burn methane-air mixture.
Energies2015, 8(4), 2575-2586; doi:10.3390/en8042575 (registering DOI) - published 31 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Ethanol production from lignocellulosic biomasses raises a global interest because it represents a good alternative to petroleum-derived energies and reduces the food versus fuel conflict generated by first generation ethanol. In this study, alkaline-acid pretreated brewers’ spent grain (BSG) was evaluated for ethanol production after enzymatic hydrolysis with commercial enzymes. The obtained hydrolysate containing a glucose concentration of 75 g/L was adopted, after dilution up to 50 g/L, for fermentation by the strain Saccharomyces cerevisiae NRRL YB 2293 selected as the best producer among five ethanologenic microorganims. When the hydrolysate was supplemented with yeast extract, 12.79 g/L of ethanol, corresponding to 0.28 g of ethanol per grams of glucose consumed (55% efficiency), was obtained within 24 h, while in the non-supplemented hydrolysate, a similar concentration was reached within 48 h. The volumetric productivity increased from 0.25 g/L·h in the un-supplemented hydrolysate to 0.53 g/L h in the yeast extract supplemented hydrolysate. In conclusion,the strain S. cerevisiae NRRL YB 2293 was shown able to produce ethanol from BSG. Although an equal amount of ethanol was reached in both BSG hydrolysate media, the nitrogen source supplementation reduced the ethanol fermentation time and promoted glucose uptake and cell growth.
Energies2015, 8(4), 2548-2574; doi:10.3390/en8042548 (registering DOI) - published 31 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Buildings do not usually perform during operation as well as predicted during the design stage. Disagreement between simulated and metered energy consumption represents a common issue in building simulation. For this reason, the calibration of building simulation models is of growing interest. Sensitivity and uncertainty analyses play an important role in building model accuracy. They can be used to identify the building model parameters most influent on the energy consumption. Given this, these analyses should be integrated within calibration methodologies and applications for tuning the parameters. This paper aims at providing a picture of the state of the art of calibration methodologies in the domain of building energy performance assessment. First, the most common methodologies for calibration are presented, emphasizing criticalities and gaps that can be faced. In particular the main issues to be addressed, when carrying out calibrated simulation, are discussed. The standard statistical criteria for considering the building models calibrated and for evaluating their goodness-of-fit are also presented. Second, the commonly used techniques for investigating uncertainties in building models are reviewed. Third, a review of the latest main studies in the calibrated simulation domain is presented. Criticalities and recommendations for new studies are finally provided.
Energies2015, 8(4), 2528-2547; doi:10.3390/en8042528 (registering DOI) - published 31 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The requirements for improvement in the energy efficiency of buildings, mandatory in many EU countries, entail a high level of thermal insulation of the building envelope. In recent years, super-insulation materials with very low thermal conductivity have been developed. These materials provide satisfactory thermal insulation, but allow the total thickness of the envelope components to be kept below a certain thickness. Nevertheless, in order to penetrate the building construction market, some barriers have to be overcome. One of the main issues is that testing procedures and useful data that are able to give a reliable picture of their performance when applied to real buildings have to be provided. Vacuum Insulation Panels (VIPs) are one of the most promising high performing technologies. The overall, effective, performance of a panel under actual working conditions is influenced by thermal bridging, due to the edge of the panel envelope and to the type of joint. In this paper, a study on the critical issues related to the laboratory measurement of the equivalent thermal conductivity of VIPs and their performance degradation due to vacuum loss has been carried out utilizing guarded heat flux meter apparatus. A numerical analysis has also been developed to study thermal bridging effect when VIP panels are adopted to create multilayer boards for building applications.
Energies2015, 8(4), 2493-2527; doi:10.3390/en8042493 (registering DOI) - published 31 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Towards low-carbon energy systems, there are countries with ongoing plans for expanding their nuclear power capacity, and simultaneously advancing the role of variable renewable energy sources (RES), namely wind and solar energy. This crossroads of capital-intensive, baseload power production and uncontrollable, intermittent RES may entail new challenges in the optimal and economic operation of power systems. This study examines this case by hourly analysis of a national-level energy system with the EnergyPLAN modeling tool, coupled with wind integration simulations (including uncertainty) implemented using MATLAB. We evaluate the maximum feasible wind integration under different scenarios for nuclear power plants, energy demand, and the flexibility of energy infrastructure for a real case study (Finland). We propose wind-nuclear compromise charts to envision the impact of any mix of these two technologies on four parameters: total costs, power exchange, carbon emissions, and renewable energy integration. The results suggest that nuclear power constrains the room for maximum uptake of wind energy by a descending parabolic relationship. If nuclear power production exceeds 50% of the total power demand, wind will be unlikely to penetrate in shares over 15% of the respective demand. Moreover, we investigate the role of four flexibility options: demand side management, electrical energy storage, smart electric heating, and large-scale heat pumps (backed with thermal energy storage). Heat pumps (which are in connection with combined heat and power (CHP) and district heating systems) offer the highest efficiency in balancing excess power from variable RES. However, power-to-heat options offer a limited capability for absorbing excess power, as oversupply arises mainly in the periods with relatively low demand for heat. This calls for longer-term energy storage and/or other flexibility options to achieve the planned targets in wind-nuclear scenarios.
Energies2015, 8(4), 2473-2492; doi:10.3390/en8042473 - published 30 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This paper explores real power generation planning, considering distributed generation resources and energy storage in a small standalone power system. On account of the Kyoto Protocol and Copenhagen Accord, wind and photovoltaic (PV) powers are considered as clean and renewable energies. In this study, a genetic algorithm (GA) was used to determine the optimal capacities of wind-turbine-generators, PV, diesel generators and energy storage in a small standalone power system. The investment costs (installation, unit and maintenance costs) of the distributed generation resources and energy storage and the cost of fuel for the diesel generators were minimized while the reliability requirement and CO2 emission limit were fulfilled. The renewable sources and loads were modeled by random variables because of their uncertainties. The equality and inequality constraints in the genetic algorithms were treated by cumulant effects and cumulative probability of random variables, respectively. The IEEE reliability data for an 8760 h load profile with a 150 kW peak load were used to demonstrate the applicability of the proposed method.