Maximizing power output of heat engines through design optimization : Geothermal power plants and novel exhaust heat recovery systems

Authors: Chagnon-Lessard, Noémie
Advisor: Gosselin, LouisMathieu-Potvin, François
Abstract: Heat engines design leading to maximum power output often depends on the hot source temperature and the cold source temperature. This is why drawing guidelines from optimal designs of these machines according to diverse operating temperatures may facilitate their conception. Such a study is proposed by this thesis for two types of heat engines. In the first instance, the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) is a power thermodynamic cycle used among others in geothermal power plants exploiting low-temperature reservoirs. This type of power plants raises keen interest around the world for being one the most environmentally friendly power production modes. In these power plants, a geofluid is pumped from the ground to transfer its heat to a working fluid operating in a closed cycle. The geofluid is then reinjected in the geological basin. Researchers are currently attempting to characterize in a better way the geothermal potential of diverse geological environments. Considering the province of Québec’s relatively cold underground, studies try to determinate whether it is possible to profitably operate geothermal power plants. Another important research question is to determine, for a given context, the optimal geothermal power plant design, and the amount of power that could be generated. To answer this question, Organic Rankine Cycles (subcritical and transcritical) are first simulated and optimized for geofluid temperatures from 80 to 180°C and for condensing temperatures of the working fluid from 0.1 to 50°C. Thirty-six (36) pure fluids are investigated for each temperature combination. Next, cycles models are improved by adding a cooling tower, a recuperative system and a constraint on the minimum reinjection temperature. ORCs with dual-pressure heater are simulated and optimized as well. Optimization runs are performed considering 20 working fluids for the same range of geofluid temperature and for ambient air wet bulb temperature from 10 to 32°C. In the second instance, the Inverted Brayton Cycle (IBC) is a thermodynamic cycle that could be used as a waste heat recovery system for engines exhaust gases. This is an open cycle which includes a gas turbine, a heat exchanger and a compressor as a basic layout. There is a configuration where the water condensed during the cooling of the gases is evacuated upstream of the compressor in order to reduce the mass flow rate and improve the system global efficiency. The Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC) of the University of Bath is interested in finding out whether particular IBC variants arising from this configuration could be viable options. These variants led to the creation of three novel thermodynamic cycles that couple the IBC with (i) a steam turbine, (ii) a refrigeration cycle, and (iii) both additions. Including both already existing cycles described in the preceding paragraph, five IBC layouts are simulated and optimized for exhaust gases temperatures from 600 to 1200 K and for heat sink temperatures from 280 to 340 K. The purpose of this thesis is to offer a tool that help engineers designing the systems previously introduced (ORC and IBC), so that they produced a maximized specific work output. As a set of charts, this tool can be used for a large range of hot source temperature (geofluid or exhaust gases) and of heat sink temperature.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2020
Open Access Date: 13 March 2020
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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