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Innovative isothermal oil-free co-rotating scroll compressor–expander for energy storage with first expander tests

Iglesias, A., Favrat, D.
Energy conversion and management 2014 v.85 pp. 565-572
air, electric motors, energy, equations, mathematical models, prototypes
The development of an efficient isothermal turbine and compressor is essential for the realization of a small-scale compressed air energy storage (CAES).This article presents the theoretical development of an oil-free co-rotating scroll air compressor and turbine working with water injection to make the operations of expansion and compression as isothermal as possible. First experimental results in expander mode are shown.The theoretical performance is predicted with the help of a mathematical model using the equations of energy and mass conservation and the equation of state. This model takes into account the effects of water injection and volumetric losses.The experimental prototype is an oil-free scroll air compressor with the distinctive feature of having two mobile involutes working in synchronized co-rotation one relative to another. The prime-mover is an electric motor driving the two scrolls with two synchronizing belts. Water injection in the housing intends to provide a quasi-isothermal compression. The same device is used as an isothermal expander by supplying high-pressure air with water when it rotates backwards in expander mode, the electric motor acting then as a generator.Expected improvements to a standard scroll compressor and expander are a better volumetric efficiency and a greater power density due to a higher rotational speed of the scrolls, thanks to their symmetrical masses. The isothermal processes increase also the overall performance.