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Publication Title | A Review on Solar Collector and Solar Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) Systems

Organic Rankine Cycle

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Journal of Automation and Control Engineering Vol. 3, No. 1, February 2015

A Review on Solar Collector and Solar Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) Systems

Kyoung Hoon Kim1 and Chul Ho Han2

Kumoh National Institute of Technology/Department of Mechanical Engineering1 and Department of Intelligent Mechanical Engineering2, Gumi, Gyeongbuk 730-701, Korea

Email: {khkim, chhan}

Abstract—Solar-driven organic Rankine cycle (ORC) has been drawing increasing attention due to its high potential in energy conversion efficiency. The two core components of thermal application systems of solar energy are solar collectors and thermal energy storage systems, and many studies have been published. ORC also has attracted much attention in recent years due to its potential in reducing consumption of fossil fuels, relaxing environmental problems, and its favorable characteristics to exploit low- temperature heat sources. This paper provides a review of the latest developments and advances in solar thermal applications of solar collectors and thermal energy storage systems, and solar-driven ORC systems. Various types of solar collector systems and solar ORC systems, and their working fluids are reviewed and discussed.

Index Terms—solar collector, heat storage, organic rankine cycle (ORC), working fluid


Since worldwide energy demand has been rapidly increasing but the fossil fuel to meet the demand is being drained, for the past 20 years efficient uses of low- temperature energy source such as geothermal energy, exhaust gas from gas turbine system, biomass combustion, waste heat from various industrial processes, and solar energy have attracted much attention and researches about them become more and more important. The organic Rankine cycle (ORC) and the power generating system using binary mixture as a working fluid have been focused as they are proven to be the most feasible methods to achieve high efficiency in converting the low- grade thermal energy to more useful forms of energy. ORC is a Rankine cycle where an organic fluid is used instead of water as working fluid. Particularly in low temperature applications many benefits may be obtained by using ORC instead of steam Rankine process [1]-[4].

By powerful nuclear fusion reaction, the Sun produces staggering amounts of energy and much of that energy is dispersed in space and practically all of it is lost. The energy intercepted by the Earth over a period of one year is equal to the energy emitted in just 14ms by the Sun. The Sun releases an enormous amount of radiation energy to its surroundings and when the energy arrives at

Manuscript received December 13, 2013; revised February 11, 2014.

©2015 Engineering and Technology Publishing

doi: 10.12720/joace.3.1.66-73

the surface of the Earth, it has been attenuated twice by both the atmosphere (6% by reflection and 16% by absorption) and the clouds (20% by reflection and 3% by absorption), as shown in Fig. 1 [5]-[7]. Solar collectors and thermal energy storage components are the two core subsystems in solar thermal applications. A solar collector which is the special energy exchanger converts solar irradiation energy either to the thermal energy of the working fluid in solar thermal applications. Solar collectors need to have good optical performance in order to absorb heat as much as possible. For solar thermal applications, solar irradiation is absorbed by a solar collector as heat and then is transferred to the working fluid. The heat carried by the working fluid can be used to either provide domestic hot water or to charge a thermal energy storage tank from which the heat can be drawn for use later [5], [8].

Figure 1.

The Earth’s energy budget [5]-[7].

After the thermal energy is collected by solar collectors, it needs to be efficiently stored when later needed for a release. Thus, it becomes of great importance to design an efficient energy storage system. Thermal storage is one of the main parts of a solar heating, cooling, and power generating system. If the solar system must operate continuously, the heat storage is necessary. For some applications intermittent operation is acceptable, but most other uses of solar energy require operating at night and when the sun is hidden behind clouds. The energy storage system has an enormous influence on overall system cost, performance, and reliability [9].


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