Abstract

The conventional design of organic Rankine cycle (ORC) power systems starts with the selection of the working fluid and the subsequent optimization of the corresponding thermodynamic cycle. More recently, systematic methods have been proposed integrating the selection of the working fluid into the optimization of the thermodynamic cycle. However, in both cases, the turbine is designed subsequently. This procedure can lead to a suboptimal design, especially in the case of mini- and small-scale ORC systems, since the preselected combination of working fluid and operating conditions may lead to infeasible turbine designs. The resulting iterative design procedure may end in conservative solutions after multiple trial-and-error attempts due to the strong interdependence of the many design variables and constraints involved. In this work, we therefore present a new design and optimization method integrating working fluid selection, thermodynamic cycle design, and preliminary turbine design. To this purpose, our recent 1-stage continuous-molecular targeting (CoMT)-computer-aided molecular design (CAMD) method for the integrated design of the ORC process and working fluid is expanded by a turbine meanline design procedure. Thereby, the search space of the optimization is bounded to regions where the design of the turbine is feasible. The resulting method has been tested for the design of a small-scale high-temperature ORC unit adopting a radial-inflow turbo-expander. The results confirm the potential of the proposed method over the conventional iterative design practice for the design of small-scale ORC turbogenerators.

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