The effect of thermal resistance, heat leakage and internal irreversibility resulting from the working fluid on the performance of a Carnot heat engine is investigated using a new cyclic model. The power output and efficiency of the heat engine are adopted as objective functions for heat engine optimization. The optimal performance of the heat engine is analysed systematically. Some significant results are obtained. For example, the maximum power output and maximum efficiency are determined. The efficiency of the heat engine at maximum power output and the power output of the heat engine at maximum efficiency are also calculated. Curves of the power output varying with the efficiency of the heat engine are obtained. These curves can indicate clearly the rational regions of efficiency and power output for an irreversible Carnot heat engine. It is pointed out that all the conclusions concerning a reversible Carnot heat engine, an endoreversible Carnot heat engine only affected by thermal resistance and an irreversible Carnot heat engine with internal irreversibility and/or heat leakage can be deduced from the results in this paper.
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