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Heat Transfer Model for Hot Air Balloons

  • Author(s): Lladó Gambín, Adriana
  • Advisor(s): Dunn-Rankin, Derek
  • et al.
Abstract

A heat transfer model and analysis for hot air balloons is presented in this work, backed with a flow simulation using SolidWorks. The objective is to understand the major heat losses in the balloon and to identify the parameters that affect most its flight performance. Results show that more than 70% of the heat losses are due to the emitted radiation from the balloon envelope and that convection losses represent around 20% of the total. A simulated heating source is also included in the modeling based on typical thermal input from a balloon propane burner. The burner duty cycle to keep a constant altitude can vary from 10% to 28% depending on the atmospheric conditions, and the ambient temperature is the parameter that most affects the total thermal input needed. The simulation and analysis also predict that the gas temperature inside the balloon decreases at a rate of -0.25 K/s when there is no burner activity, and it increases at a rate of +1 K/s when the balloon pilot operates the burner. The results were compared to actual flight data and they show very good agreement indicating that the major physical processes responsible for balloon performance aloft are accurately captured in the simulation.

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