Considering nonlinear variation of working fluid’s specific heat with its temperature, finite-time thermodynamic theory is applied to analyze and optimize the characteristics of an irreversible Atkinson cycle. Through numerical calculations, performance relationships between cycle dimensionless power density versus compression ratio and dimensionless power density versus thermal efficiency are obtained, respectively. When the design parameters take certain specific values, the performance differences of reversible, endoreversible and irreversible Atkinson cycles are compared. The maximum specific volume ratio, maximum pressure ratio, and thermal efficiency under the conditions of the maximum power output and maximum power density are compared. Based on NSGA-II, the single-, bi-, tri-, and quadru-objective optimizations are performed when the compression ratio is used as the optimization variable, and the cycle dimensionless power output, thermal efficiency, dimensionless ecological function, and dimensionless power density are used as the optimization objectives. The deviation indexes are obtained based on LINMAP, TOPSIS, and Shannon entropy solutions under different combinations of optimization objectives. By comparing the deviation indexes of bi-, tri- and quadru-objective optimization and the deviation indexes of single-objective optimizations based on maximum power output, maximum thermal efficiency, maximum ecological function and maximum power density, it is found that the deviation indexes of multi-objective optimization are smaller, and the solution of multi-objective optimization is desirable. The comparison results show that when the LINMAP solution is optimized with the dimensionless power output, thermal efficiency, and dimensionless power density as the objective functions, the deviation index is 0.1247, and this optimization objective combination is the most ideal.
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