Physical Sciences

Nulling Infrared Radiometer for Measuring Temperature

A microwave-radiometer self-calibration principle would be adapted to measurement of infrared. A nulling, self-calibrating infrared radiometer is being developed for use in noncontact measurement of temperature in any of a variety of industrial and scientific applications. This instrument is expected to be especially well-suited to measurement of ambient or near-ambient temperature and, even more specifically, for measuring the surface temperature of a natural body of water. Although this radiometer would utilize the long-wavelength infrared (LWIR) portion of the spectrum (wavelengths of 8 to 12 µm), its basic principle of operation could also be applied to other spectral bands (corresponding to other temperature ranges) in which the atmosphere is transparent and in which design requirements for sensitivity and temperature-measurement accuracy could be satisfied.

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Assessment of Models of Chemically Reacting Granular Flows

A report presents an assessment of a general mathematical model of dense, chemically reacting granular flows like those in fluidized beds used to pyrolize biomass. The model incorporates submodels that have been described in several NASA Tech Briefs articles, including "Generalized Mathematical Model of Pyrolysis of Biomass" (NPO-20068) NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 22, No. 2 (February 1998), page 60; "Model of Pyrolysis of Biomass in a Fluidized-Bed Reactor" (NPO-20708), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 25, No. 6 (June 2001), page 59; and "Model of Fluidized Bed Containing Reacting Solids and Gases" (NPO-30163), which appears elsewhere in this issue. The model was used to perform computational simulations in a test case of pyrolysis in a reactor containing sand and biomass (i.e., plant material) particles through which passes a flow of hot nitrogen. The boundary conditions and other parameters were selected for the test case to enable assessment of the validity of some assumptions incorporated into submodels of granular stresses, granular thermal conductivity, and heating of particles. The results of the simulation are interpreted as partly affirming the assumptions in some respects and indicating the need for refinements of the assumptions and the affected submodels in other respects.

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Numerical Study of Pyrolysis of Biomass in Fluidized Beds

A report presents a numerical-simulation study of pyrolysis of biomass in fluidized-bed reactors, performed by use of the mathematical model described in "Model of Fluidized Bed Containing Reacting Solids and Gases" (NPO-30163), which appears elsewhere in this issue of NASA Tech Briefs. The purpose of the study was to investigate the effect of various operating conditions on the efficiency of production of condensable tar from biomass. The numerical results indicate that for a fixed particle size, the fluidizing-gas temperature is the foremost parameter that affects the tar yield. For the range of fluidizing-gas temperatures investigated, and under the assumption that the pyrolysis rate exceeds the feed rate, the optimum steady-state tar collection was found to occur at 750 K. In cases in which the assumption was not valid, the optimum temperature for tar collection was found to be only slightly higher. Scaling up of the reactor was found to exert a small negative effect on tar collection at the optimal operating temperature. It is also found that slightly better scaling is obtained by use of shallower fluidized beds with greater fluidization velocities.

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Integrated Arrays of Ion-Sensitive Electrodes

Electronic "tongues" would "taste" selected ions in water. The figure depicts an example of proposed compact water-quality sensors that would contain integrated arrays of ion-sensitive electrodes (ISEs). These sensors would serve as electronic "tongues": they would be placed in contact with water and used to "taste" selected dissolved ions (that is, they would be used to measure the concentrations of the ions). The selected ions could be any or all of a variety of organic and inorganic cations and anions that could be regarded as contaminants or analytes, depending on the specific application. In addition, some of the ISEs could be made sensitive to some neutral analytes (see table).

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Model of Fluidized Bed Containing Reacting Solids and Gases

This model can be used to optimize designs and operating conditions. A mathematical model has been developed for describing the thermofluid dynamics of a dense, chemically reacting mixture of solid particles and gases. As used here, "dense" signifies having a large volume fraction of particles, as for example in a bubbling fluidized bed. The model is intended especially for application to fluidized beds that contain mixtures of carrier gases, biomass undergoing pyrolysis, and sand. So far, the design of fluidized beds and other gas/solid industrial processing equipment has been based on empirical correlations derived from laboratory- and pilot-scale units. The present mathematical model is a product of continuing efforts to develop a computational capability for optimizing the designs of fluidized beds and related equipment on the basis of first principles. Such a capability could eliminate the need for expensive, time-consuming predesign testing.

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Using Diffusion Bonding in Making Piezoelectric Actuators

Fabrication is simplified and performance improved. A technique for the fabrication of piezoelectric actuators that generate acceptably large forces and deflections at relatively low applied voltages involves the stacking and diffusion bonding of multiple thin piezoelectric layers coated with film electrodes. The present technique stands in contrast to an older technique in which the layers are bonded chemically, by use of urethane or epoxy agents.

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Turbulence in Supercritical O2/H2 and C7H16/N2 Mixing Layers

This report presents a study of numerical simulations of mixing layers developing between opposing flows of paired fluids under supercritical conditions, the purpose of the study being to elucidate chemical-species- specific aspects of turbulence. The simulations were performed for two different fluid pairs — O2/H2 and C7H16/N2 — at similar reduced initial pressures (reduced pressure is defined as pressure ÷ critical pressure). Thermodynamically, O2/H2 behaves more nearly like an ideal mixture and has greater solubility, relative to C7H16/N2, which departs strongly from ideality. Because of a specified smaller initial density stratification, the C7H16/N2 layers exhibited greater levels of growth, global molecular mixing, and turbulence. However, smaller density gradients at the transitional state for the O2/H2 system were interpreted as indicating that locally, this system exhibits enhanced mixing as a consequence of its greater solubility and closer approach to ideality. These thermodynamic features were shown to affect entropy dissipation, which was found to be larger for O2/H2 and concentrated in high-density-gradient-magnitude regions that are distortions of the initial density-stratification boundary. In C7H16/N2, the regions of largest dissipation were found to lie in high-density-gradient-magnitude regions that result from mixing of the two fluids.

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