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Publication Name: Green Machine: A Possible Means for Increasing Diesel Engine Efficiency in Alaska
Original File Name Searched: ACEP-ORC-Research-Briefing-4-23-13.pdf
Page Number: 001

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Fostering development of innovative solutions to Alaska’s energy challenges.

The Green Machine: A Possible Means for Increasing Diesel Engine Ef ciency in Alaska

Research Brie ng

The Green Machine: A Possible Means for Increas-

ing Diesel Engine E ciency in Alaska

This report looks at whether an organic Rankine cycle device can be added to Alaska’s rural power plants to economically generate addi onal electricity from excess heat from diesel generators.

Project Introduction

The isolated rural villages in Alaska annually consume about 370,000 MWh of electrical energy, which comes from individu- al diesel- red generator sets. Because the generators must be sized for the maximum usage a village will need, the genera- tors are running at less than full capacity during o -peak mes; the ra o of electrical power produced to fuel energy consumed is generally less than 40%. The rest of the fuel en- ergy is lost as heat. While some power plants u lize a por on of this for other hea ng needs, such as space and water heat- ing, the majority of this energy in Alaska is wasted.

The goal of adding organic Rankine cycle (ORC) products to an exis ng power cycle is to reclaim some of this heat to generate a bit more power, increasing the overall fuel e ciency of the power plant. While this technology is mature for larger-scale power genera on, the products for smaller-capacity generator sets, appropriate for the typical size of Alaska village power plants, are s ll new to the market or in prototype phase. Many villages are being approached by these product developers

to invest in this new technology, so ACEP, in partnership with its funding partners, the Denali Commission and the Alaska Energy Authority, set out to test its viability in Alaska.

ElectraTherm’s “Green Machine” was iden ed as one of the devices with the highest poten al for success. The Green Machine is designed to generate up to 50 kW of power using

The Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) is

an applied energy research group housed under the Ins tute of Northern Engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

ACEP and Tanana Chiefs Conference

In 2010, the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) partnered with Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC), a non- pro t consor um of 42 communi es in Interior Alaska, to obtain and test a 50 kW Green Machine. ACEP tested the Green Machine for 600 hours at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) power plant and collected and analyzed the data, nding promising results. In the mean me, TCC facilitated communica on between ACEP and the villages to help select an Alaska community whose power com- pany would be willing to eld test the Green Machine. Tok was selected by TCC, and the Green Machine will be installed in the Tok power plant in the summer of 2013.

UAF photo by Todd Paris

Mechanical engineer- ing doctoral student Vamshi Avadhanula mans the controls of the Green Machine.

In addi on to the technical aspects of the study, researchers are assessing whether opera ons and main- tenance of the device would impose a signi - cant burden on rural power plant operators.

the organic Rankine cycle, which is a process used to obtain energy from lower-value (lower temperature) heat sources than are commonly used for power genera on.

Alaska Center for Energy and Power • 907-474-5402 •

This fact sheet is produced by Alaska Center for Energy and Power in cooperation with the UAF Cooperative Extension Service. UAF is an AA/EO employer and educational institution.

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