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Scientist Improving Power Plants for Small and Alternative Energy

Scientist Improving Power Plants for Small and Alternative Energy
Example of simulating the slow process of engine preheating
South Ural State University researchers have patented a program for creating "digital twins" for power plants. This development will be of use for improving hybrid wind power plants, military and civilian technology, for creation of pumping and compression stations, for automobiles, and for other technologies powered by internal combustion engines.

Power stations are systems of interconnected equipment and facilities for generation, transmission, storage, distribution or consumption of energy. Those are used in industry, agriculture, and for heating supplying electricity to small communities, especially those that are located in the northern regions of Russia, where the temperatures in the winter period can drop to 50°С below zero or lower. The power plant digital twin, that was created within the program of the SUSU researchers, lowers the financial costs for the design and testing of such power plants and significantly increases their efficiency.

Virtual Power Plant
The program for creating simulated models of cogeneration power plants (which combine the production of electric and thermal energy) was patented in 2019. An article was published on this topic in the journal Lecture Notes in Mechanical Engineering.

The simulated model is a virtual power plant with a piston internal combustion engine "assembled with a mouse" on a computer screen from a set of parameterized components. The model makes it possible to hold computational experiments with a digital model of a power plant on a virtual workbench: in other words, real experiments are replaced by simulation.

"Internal combustion engines must function in a wide range of external conditions, including at elevations of up to 5,000 meters above sea level and at temperatures ranging from +50°C to -50°C. Where can we find such conditions to conduct tests? It is practically impossible, we would need very expensive climate equipment. Using our software makes it possible to significantly reduce the costs for completing experimental testing," notes the author of the patent, Doctor of Sciences (Engineering), Professor of the Department of Wheeled and Tracked Vehicles of the SUSU Institute of Engineering and Technology Andrey Malozyomov.
For this, researchers run virtual experiments by using "digital twins" of an engine, the facility it will be used at, and a test bench, the characteristics of which are nearly identical to the real objects. The software makes it possible to imitate all external conditions: mechanical, electrical and thermal load, air temperature, ambient pressure, elevation, etc.

With the use of this program, the SUSU researchers can determine the optimal characteristics for power plant engines. Changing one parameter or another, for example the load or the ambient temperature, the researchers observe how the plant's electrical and thermal power changes, the emission of harmful substances into the environment, etc.

The necessary changes are made in the simulation model, then the researchers check how those affect the performance of the engine and the power plant. It is impossible to completely replace real experiments. However, they are performed in the final stages, when near-optimal characteristics have already been chosen. The program for creating simulation models for cogeneration power plants developed at SUSU is not inferior to foreign analogues, but it is even more flexible: mathematical models of components can be changed at all stages of creating the digital twin of a power plant.



Smart Recycling
The specialists pay special attention to increasing the amount of thermal energy released by the engine. The efficiency coefficient of a piston engine does not exceed 40-45%, the rest of the energy (60% and more) is lost irretrievably to the environment. By optimizing the characteristics and parameters of the engine's operation using simulated models, the researchers can reclaim a large amount of the generated energy and use it in the future, for example, for heating buildings.



Provided by South Ural State University