The Steady Flow Energy Equation

Whilst talking to a number of students recently I realised two things:

  1. Students tend to think of problems as a series of special cases and don’t do a good job of connecting the underlying engineering theory.
  2. The steady flow energy equation is an awesome piece of underlying theory.

The steady flow energy equation (SFEE for short) for those who don’t recall is an energy of analysis of systems with a number of flows in and out of them.  It relates work and heat  transfers across the boundaries to enthalpy changes, velocity changes and gravitational potential energy changes.  I would put this into an equation but frankly the in-built editor for this blog doesn’t handle equations very well.

Anyway with the SFEE allows you to analyse:

  • open and closed feedheaters
  • gas mixtures
  • cooling with and without condensation, heating with and without evaporation
  • humidification by spraying
  • turbines, expanders, pumps and compressors

Basically it is one of only a handful for key pieces of knowledge you need for an undergraduate education in engineering thermodynamics – the rest is application.

This is something I will be emphasising in future courses…


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