Previous investigators have shown that an internally reversible Carnot cycle, operating with heat transfer limitations between the heat source and heat sink at temperatures TH and TL, achieves maximum power at an efficiency equal to 1TL/TH independent of the heat exchanger transfer coefficients. In this paper, optimization of the power output of an internally irreversible heat engine is considered for finite capacitance rates of the external fluid streams. The method of Lagrange multipliers is used to solve for working fluid temperatures which yield maximum power. Analytical expressions for the maximum power and the cycle efficiency at maximum power are obtained. The effects of irreversibility and economics on the performance of a heat engine are investigated. A relationship between the maximum power point and economically optimum design is identified. It is demonstrated that, with certain reasonable economic assumptions, the maximum power point of a heat engine corresponds to a point of minimum life-cycle costs.

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