An Improved Modeling for Low-grade Organic Rankine Cycle Coupled with Optimization Design of Radial-inflow Turbine
Organic Rankine cycle (ORC) has been proven to be an effective and promising technology to convert low-grade heat energy into power, attracting rapidly growing interest in recent years. As the key component of the ORC system, turbine significantly influences the overall cycle performance and its efficiency also varies with different working fluids as well as in different operating conditions. However, turbine efficiency is generally assumed to be constant in the conventional cycle design. Aiming at this issue, this paper couples the ORC system design with the radial-inflow turbine design to investigate the thermodynamic performance of the ORC system and the aerodynamic characteristics of radial-inflow turbine simultaneously. The constrained genetic algorithm (GA) is used to optimize the radial-inflow turbine with attention to six design parameters, including degree of reaction, velocity ratio, loading coefficient, flow coefficient, ratio of wheel diameter, and rotational speed. The influence of heat source outlet temperature on the performance of the radial-inflow turbine and the ORC system with constant mass flow rate of the heat source and constant heat source inlet temperature is investigated for four kinds of working fluids. The net electrical powers achieved are from few tens kWs to one hundred kWs. The results show that the turbine efficiency decreases with increasing heat source outlet temperature and that the decreasing rate of turbine efficiency becomes faster in the high temperature region. The optimized turbine efficiency varies from 88.06% (using pentane at the outlet temperature of 105 ºC) to 91.01% (using R245fa at the outlet temperature of 80 ºC), which appears much higher compared to common values reported in the literature. Furthermore, the cycle efficiency increases monotonously with the growth of the heat source outlet temperature, whereas the net power output has the opposite trend. R123 achieves the maximum cycle efficiency of 12.21% at the heat source outlet temperature of 110 ºC. Based on the optimized results, the recommended ranges of the key design parameters for ORC radial-inflow turbine are presented as well.