The organic Rankine cycle (ORC) is low-grade heat recovery technology, for sources as diverse as geothermal, industrial, and vehicle waste heat. The working fluids used within these systems often display significant real-gas effects, especially in proximity of the thermodynamic critical point. Three-dimensional (3D) computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is commonly used for performance prediction and flow field analysis within expanders, but experimental validation with real gases is scarce within the literature. This paper therefore presents a dense-gas blowdown facility constructed at Imperial College London, for experimentally validating numerical simulations of these fluids. The system-level design process for the blowdown rig is described, including the sizing and specification of major components. Tests with refrigerant R1233zd(E) are run for multiple inlet pressures, against a nitrogen baseline case. CFD simulations are performed, with the refrigerant modeled by ideal gas, Peng–Robinson, and Helmholtz energy equations of state. It is shown that increases in fluid model fidelity lead to reduced deviation between simulation and experiment. Maximum and mean discrepancies of 9.59% and 8.12% in nozzle pressure ratio with the Helmholtz energy EoS are reported. This work demonstrates an over-prediction of pressure ratio and power output within commercial CFD packages, for turbomachines operating in non-ideal fluid environments. This suggests a need for further development and experimental validation of CFD simulations for highly non-ideal flows. The data contained within this paper are therefore of vital importance for the future validation and development of CFD methods for dense-gas turbomachinery.