We hear a lot about mechanical inventions, one such is regenerative heat exchanger, which is commonly known as regenerator. Here we would discuss the kind it is and how it works.
Regenerator is a type of heat exchanger where heat from the hot fluid is stored in a thermal storage medium before it is transferred to the cold fluid. To achieve this the hot fluid is brought into contact with the heat storage medium, then the fluid is displaced with the cold fluid, which takes in the heat.
In regenerative heat exchangers, the fluid on either side of the heat exchanger is the same fluid. The fluid might go through an external processing step, and then it is passes back for further processing through the heat exchanger in the opposite direction. The device use this process in cycle or in repetition.
Dating back to history, regenerative heating was one of the most important technologies developed during the Industrial Revolution. It was then used in the hot blast process on blast furnaces. Later it started to be used in glass and steel manufacturing to increase the efficiency of open hearth furnaces, and in high pressure boilers and other applications, where it continues to be important today.
In a regenerator, there are several heat-exchanging chambers, each incorporating two rotary gas valves, are connected to the hot gas flow and the cold compressed flow. The valves are meant to sequence the flows around the chambers so that the regenerator materials, eg. ceramic honeycomb, are alternately heated and then cooled.
The materials that accomplish the heat exchange from one gas flow to another can be gravel, or ceramic balls (if the hot flow is at a high temperature) or honeycombs or wire bundles and are contained in insulated casings. There might be 2,3,6 12 or more chambers with these casings containing porous materials. The casings have dual faces, one for inlet of hot gas and the outlet for heated gas, and the other for input of cooler gas and the outlet for cooled gas. For a period from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on the design, the hot flow goes through the porous material, heating it up. Then that flow is halted and the chiller flow is allowed to flow in the opposite direction becoming heated until most of the heat is extracted from the material. This sequence id repeated in each chamber.
When utilized for gas-turbine engines it gives very high heat-transfer efficiency with low pressure drops and low leakage.
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