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An innovative ORC power plant layout for heat and power generation from medium- to low-temperature geothermal resources

Fiaschi, Daniele, Lifshitz, Adi, Manfrida, Giampaolo, Tempesti, Duccio
Energy conversion and management 2014 v.88 pp. 883-893
algorithms, electric power, energy conversion, heat, heat exchangers, mass flow, power generation, power plants, temperature, working conditions
Medium temperature (up to 170°C), water dominated geothermal resources are the most widespread in the world. The binary geothermal-ORC power plants are the most suitable energy conversion systems for this kind of resource. Specifically, combined heat and power (CHP) systems have the potential to improve the efficiency in exploiting the geothermal resources by cascading the geothermal fluid heat carrier to successively lower temperature users, thus increasing first and second law efficiency of the entire power plant. However, geothermal CHPs usually extract heat from the geofluid either in parallel or in series to the ORC, and usually provide only low temperature heat, which is seldom suitable for industrial use. In this paper, a new CHP configuration, called Cross Parallel CHP, has been proposed and analyzed. It aims to provide higher temperature heat suitable for industrial use, allowing the exploitation of geothermal resources even in areas where district heating is not needed. The proposed CHP allows the reduction of the irreversibilities in the heat exchangers and the loss to the environment related to the re-injection of geofluid, thus producing higher electric power output while satisfying, at the same time, the heat demand of the thermal utility for a wide range of temperatures and mass flow rates (80–140°C; 3–13kg/s). Several organic fluids are investigated and the related optimizing working conditions are found by a built in procedure making use of genetic algorithms. The results show that the optimal working fluids and conditions vary with the temperature level and heat load of the thermal utility.