A knowledge-based approach to automated conceptual design (flowsheet synthesis) of thermal energy systems with strong interactions between heat/power/chemical transformations is presented. In Part 1, formulation of a thermal design problem is stated in terms of input/output specification, component interaction, feasibility constraints, and penalty function. The problem is then decomposed in inner problems that deal with a set of elementary processes, and outer problems that find a network of components approximating the optimum set of elementary processes. A design state is evaluated using a special form of fundamental equation for steady-state open thermodynamic systems based on a “temperature interval” concept. In Part 2 of this paper, an algorithm is presented. The algorithm makes use of the state evaluation function, transformation operators, and the plausible move operator to search through a space of the design states. A simple closed-cycle gas turbine is employed to illustrate the behavior of the “artificial designer” as it advances from a certain given design to more sophisticated schemes.

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