Computer simulation was used in the development of an inward-burning, radial matrix gas burner and heat pipe heat exchanger. The burner and exchanger can be used to heat a Stirling engine on cloudy days when a solar dish, the normal source of heat, cannot be used. Geometrical requirements of the application forced the use of the inward burning approach, which presents difficulty in achieving a good flow distribution and air/fuel mixing. The present invention solved the problem by providing a plenum with just the right properties, which include good flow distribution and good air/fuel mixing with minimum residence time. CFD simulations were also used to help design the primary heat exchanger needed for this application which includes a plurality of pins emanating from the heat pipe. The system uses multiple inlet ports, an extended distance from the fuel inlet to the burner matrix, flow divider vanes, and a ring-shaped, porous grid to obtain a high-temperature uniform-heat radial burner. Ideal applications include dish/Stirling engines, steam reforming of hydrocarbons, glass working, and any process requiring high temperature heating of the outside surface of a cylindrical surface.
The United States Government has rights in this invention under Contract No. DE-AC36-98GO-10337 between the United States Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a division of Midwest Research Institute.