Performance Evaluation of a Scroll Expander for a Low Capacity Organic Rankine Cycle System

Performance Evaluation of a Scroll Expander for a Low Capacity Organic Rankine Cycle System
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The Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) is a promising research field in energy conversion. ORC recovers energy from various heat sources by converting low and medium temperature heat into useful work or electricity. The heat used in ORC can come from many different sources (e.g. biomass, geothermal, solar, waste heat from industry, etc.) making the process potentially usable in many commercial or industrial applications. Recently, the commercial applications of ORC technology have been developed with power range of more than 100 kWe. However, the low capacity ORC technologies are still in the research stage. The lack of suitable expander and the difficulty in selecting an appropriate working fluid are main problems in the low capacity ORC research field. The demand of low capacity ORC systems is expected to increase as the distributed combined heat and power supply networks in urban areas are developed. This study conducted performance evaluation of an automotive scroll compressor as an expander which may replace a turbine expander in low power conditions. The performance of a scroll expander was tested with a refrigerant R134a at the various expander inlet pressure, temperature and mass flow rate. The entropic efficiency of the expander was obtained by the experiments. From the experimental results, the cycle analysis was simulated as an optimization process using the genetic algorithm which is one of most powerful optimization method at the multi-domain variations. In addition, the several candidate working fluids were compared by considering efficiency, flow rate, pressure ratio and flammability. The scroll expander is expected to become an advanced alternative main component for low capacity ORC systems.
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