Organic Rankine Cycle
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Organic Rankine Cycle Waste Heat Solutions And Opportunities In Natural
Gas Compression > The renewable energy source BY JOHN FOX
t takes a significant amount of en- ergy to transport the ever-growing supply of natural gas in the United
States from where it is produced to where it is consumed. At each natu- ral gas compression station there are multiple opportunities to con- vert the existing waste heat streams to additional electricity for the site and potentially more horsepower for increased compression and plant throughput. The existing waste heat streams can be converted to more power with no added fuel or emis- sions, using technology that is prov-
en and established worldwide. Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) tech- nology has been around for decades, but only recently established itself as a proven source of power gen- eration from low-temperature waste heat streams. Such heat streams are
John Fox is the chief executive officer at ElectraTherm. He holds a BS in mechani- cal engineering and a master’s degree in engineering mechanics from Penn State University. He also has an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh.
commonly found on reciprocating en- gines, where an ORC generator can increase engine performance and de- crease fuel consumption by convert- ing the engine’s jacket water and/or exhaust into additional electricity for the site. The typical engine runs at ap- proximately 35% efficiency, resulting in considerable waste heat from the jacket water and the exhaust.
Engine applications include prime power production in remote areas, island and developing nations, bio- gas gen-sets such as landfill and wastewater treatment plants, and renewable biofuels. The thousands of natural gas compression engines across the globe provide a great op- portunity for waste-heat-to-power. The abundance of waste heat in its many forms provides for the renew- able you already have.
Because ORC generators work as cooling devices, they can act as the engine’s radiator, essentially working as a “radiator with a payback.” For all engine applications, there is an as- sociated cost of cooling the engine, either in horsepower provided by the
engine or in electricity purchased from the grid. By adding an ORC to an en- gine installation, the parasitic load of cooling the engine can be greatly re- duced or even eliminated. The ORC turns the cost of cooling into the pay- back of cooling.
Excess heat abounds
Most industrial processes, though designed with efficiency in mind, shed excess/unused heat in some form and in significant amounts. Heat may originate from boilers, engines, fur- naces, incinerators, etc., or it may originate from other processes, in- cluding gas compression, chemical reactions and more.
The majority of the heat resulting from the combustion of fuel in an in- ternal combustion engine is lost in the coolant and exhaust, each of which represents an opportunity for heat re- covery (Figure 1). This level of heat rejection is common to diesel, gas, or biomass-powered reciprocating en- gines. Exhaust stack gases from virtu- ally all combustion processes (ovens,
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