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Organic Rankine Cycle Power Plant for

Waste Heat Recovery

Lucien Y. Bronicki, Chairman

ORMAT International Inc.

Organic Rankine Cycle, Waste Heat Recovery, Cement Industry, Gas Compression Station

Power Plants based on the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) have been increasingly employed
over the last 20 years to produce power from various heat sources when other alternatives
were either technically not practical or not economical. These power plants in sizes from 300
kW to 130 MW have demonstrated the maturity of this technology. The cycle is well adapted
to low moderate temperature heat sources such as waste heat from industrial plants and is
widely used producing 600 MW of electric power from geothermal and waste heat resources.
The ORC technology is applicable to heat recovery of medium size gas turbines and cement
plants, and offers significant advantages over conventional steam bottoming cycles. One such
system, the 6.5 MW Gold Creek Power Plant is now in operation at a gas compressor station
in Canada displacing some 25,000 tons of CO2 yearly. The Gold Creek Power Plant is owned
and operted by a subsidiary of Transcanada Pipeline. A second system of 1.5 MW is
operating at the Heidelberger Zement AG Plant in Lengurt, Germany. These environmentally
friendly power plants are the first to be installed in these industries. The Cement power plant
is recovering unused grate cooler heat and is generating electricity on a continuosly basis
without interfering with the initial clinker production process, displacing some 7000 t of CO2
yearly. The use of ORC technology based systems has matured to a field proven and highly
reliable technology. ORC have demonstrated advantages over conventional steam cycles and
are particularly applicable to geothermal power plants and the recovery of waste heat, from
small to medium gas turbines such as the compressor stations, while providing cost and
environmental advantages.

A. Lengfurt Cement Power Plant
The ORMAT heat recovery system at the Heidelberger Zement AG Plant in Lengfurt is the
first of such systems supplied to the cement industry. (Figure 1) This environmentally friendly
plant recovers the unused grate cooler heat and generates 1,300 kW of electricity on a
continuous basis, amounting to over 10% of the cement plant's internal electricity use, without
interfering with the initial clinker production process. The waste heat recovery power plant will
result in the saving of 7,000 tons of CO2 annually.
Even for an optimized cement process, significant heat loss, mainly caused by the heat of the
waste gases, still occurs. The heat balance of a kiln plant reveals that preheater waste gases
and cooler exhaust air account for more than 30% of that heat loss.
Waste heat sources may be directly used for drying of raw material, coal or intergrinding
matter. However, there are numerous cement plants where this utilization is either not
possible or not required and this unused heat is lost. The economic order of magnitude of
such losses in a typical kiln line of 2000 t/d capacity with a 4-stage cyclone preheater and
grate cooler, is as follows:

Assuming a preheater waste-gas temperature of 350'C and grate cooler exhaust-air

temperature of 275'C, approximately 1,100 kJ/kg (clinker) of unused heat is lost. When firing
coal of a net calorific value of 23,000 kJ/kg, the annual loss to be attributed to unused process
heat is approximately US $1.0 - $1.6 million; a very significant expense for lost energy.

The preferred approach to overcome this economically unsatisfactory situation is to use the
waste heat for the generation of electrical power. In the past some cement plant operators
have installed waste heat steam boilers in their plants and have utilized the process heat to
operate a steam turbine generator set. However, the conventional steam technology has
certain implicit drawbacks with respect to the cement production process. In particular, the
use of the relatively low temperature grate-cooler exhaust air, available at continuously
varying temperatures, ranging from 170'C to 300'C, involves difficulties with respect to stable
steam turbine operation due to the high moisture content in the turbine exhaust and pinch
point interference problems in the boiler. To overcome this drawback, exhaust air
temperatures have been raised, in some cases beyond the level required for clinker burning,
through additional fuel gas firing. This has increased the fuel consumption in the plant to
unacceptable levels.

B. Gold Creek Power Plant

A 6.5 MW Power Plant operating an ORC was commissioned in June 1999 as a bottoming
system for an RB211 gas turbine driven compressor station at Gold Creek, in Alberta,
Canada. (Figure 2).

The main characteristics of the plant are: (a) gross generating capacity, 7.2 MW; (b) net
output to the grid, 6.5 MW, and net to the grid guaranteed capacity, 5.85 MW at design
conditions of +2oC ambient temperature at an elevation of 700 meters asl.

As shown in this example the ORC technology presents the potential of substantial power
recovery on existing and new gas turbine driven compressor stations.

Increased environmental concerns are promoting the desire for lower emissions and higher
fuel economy, despite the current relatively low and stable cost of fuel. One way to increase
efficiency and simultaneously limit NO2 emissions (per kW) in gas turbine power plants is to
add a bottoming cycle to recover the gas turbine exhaust heat. Such combined cycle power
plants with steam turbines are successfully utilized with large size gas turbines. However, this
concept is less attractive with smaller gas turbines, primarily due to the high operating and
installation costs per unit of power, in $/kW, of the small steam turbines. In such cases the
use of ORC in the bottoming plant offers a lower cost alternative with significant advantages in
maintenance and reliability.


A schematic of a bottoming plant based on an ORC is hown in Figure 3 for heat recovery from
a gas turbine. The organic motive fluid is selected to optimize power output for the gas turbine
exhaust or waste heat stream. Thermal energy in the waste heat stream is transferred to the
ORC's vaporizer by nonflammable heat transfer fluid flowing through the Heat Recovery Unit.
The ORC working fluid is vaporized by the heat transfer fluid. The resulting organic vapor
drives the turbine, which is coupled to the generator, or an additional compressor. The turbine
exhaust vapor flows through the recuperator, is condensed and recycled by the motive fluid

A. Thermodynamic Cycle
For moderate enthalpy heat sources, ORC cycles offer many advantages over the
conventional steam cycle, primarily due to the simplicity of the turbine, the control system, and
the balance of plant.

The distinguishing features of an ORC cycle have been treated in numerous papers (Ref. 1, 2,
3, 4). For an ORC plant the turbine and piping sizes are smaller and thus less costly due to
the fluid density differences. The condensing pressure in an organic cycle is generally above
atmospheric thus eliminating the need for complex vacuum and gas purging equipment that is
utilized in a steam condensing cycle.

Also, note that when the organic vapor expands in the turbine it becomes superheated or
dryer, unlike steam which becomes wetter during the expansion process. Therefore,
superheating of the organic vapor prior to delivery to the turbine is not required. Since organic
fluids have a low freezing temperature, there is no freezing in the condenser, even at
extremely low ambient temperatures.

B. Practical Characteristics of the ORMAT ORC

The ORMAT ORC based systems on ORMAT Energy Converter (OEC) has been designed to
operate in heat recovery systems converting the low-temperature heat sources available in
the cement and other industries into electricity, with design criteria as follows: (a) matching of
the OEC design to the specific characteristics of the heat source; (b) no interference with
normal operating modes of the host cement plant, to avoid clinker production setbacks;
simplicity in operation and maintenance; (d) modular construction to ensure rapid
implementation and low erection costs; (e) low maintenance costs and high system
availability; (f) flexibility to enable operation with changing heat source conditions, and (g) fully
automated design, including automatic synchronization and safe shut-down.

Other advantages should not be overlooked. In areas where water is scarce air cooling is
preferred, yet this is not a practical solution with small steam turbines due to the large piping
sizes and cost of the vacuum system. However, most OEC plants have utilized air-cooled
condensers, which results in less maintenance, no chemicals for cooling tower water-
treatment purifying, and zero pollution or waste (such as blowdown from cooling towers). Also,
as pointed out, there is less concern of freezing with the OEC. The higher availability possible
with the OEC units means fewer power outages resulting in a consistent and reliable power
supply. Obviously, the ability to perform all of the maintenance, including overhaul, on-site is
an advantage appreciated by plant owners and operators. Furthermore, small OEC systems
are pre-assembled as packaged units in sizes that correspond to many gas turbine bottoming
cycles. The availability of such standard packages significantly reduces the front end and
custom engineering cost of the bottoming cycle.


A. Geothermal Power Plants
The application of ORC cycles to recover the heat from geothermal resources has steadily
increased and achieved general acceptance. In these cases the geothermal heating source
may be a low temperature brine, a moderate enthalpy two-phase flow, or a high enthalpy
steam dominated resource. Approximately 600 MW of geothermal power plants using this
technology have been installed in 18 countries. OEC modules ranging in power from 1 to 30
MW have been installed in over 40 geothermal power plants (e.g., 125 MW geothermal power
plant in the Philippines).

B. Early Heat Recovery Applications

OECs, using the same ORC principle, have also been used to recover industrial plant waste
heat (either steam or fuel gases). For example, a 750 kW OEC unit was installed in 1985 at
Union Carbide (California) utilizing industrial waste heat in the form of a mixture of
superheated process steam and non-condensable gases. Similar units have also been
installed in Europe, Japan and in the People's Republic of China.

C. Microturbine For Unattended Distributed Power

Initial demonstration and commercial application of ORC cycles began over 30 years ago.
ORMAT has produced over 3000 units which have been manufactured for various
applications. These units, known as ORMAT Energy Converters (OEC), were designed for
both high availability and low maintenance. The earliest units, with power ratings from 200 to
3000 Watts, are employed in remote areas to produce power along oil pipelines for valve
operation and cathodic protection (e.g. the TransAlaska pipeline), or to supply reliable power
in hazardous environments such as unattended offshore gas platforms, for telemetry,
communications, control and battery charging. These units have been installed in over 55
countries and have accumulated over 150 million operating hours, with demonstrated mean
time between faults (MTBF) of over 20 years.

The use of OEC has matured to a field-proven and highly reliable technology. ORC cycles
have demonstrated advantages over conventional steam cycles and are particularly
applicable to geothermal power plants and the recovery of waste heat, while providing distinct
cost and environmental advantages.

1. Peppink, G. "Integration of an ORC in a Steam and Gas Turbine Unit (Stag Unit) with and
without Facilities for District Heating", Verein Deutshcer Ingenieure "Association of German
Engineers) VDI Berichte 539, ORC-HP Technology, pp. 439-456, VDI Venag, Dusseldorf

2. Bronicki, L.Y. "Twenty Five Years Experience with Organic Rankine Fluids in
Turbomachinery", VDI Berichte 539, ORC-HP Technology, pp. 685-696, VDI Venag,
Dusseldorf 1984.

3. Bronicki, L.Y., "Experience with High Speed Organic Rankine Cycle Turbomachinery".
Conference on High Speed Technology, Lappeenrata, Finland, 1988.

4. Bronicki, L.Y., "An Economically Viable, Sustainable energy Supply System - Organic
Vapor and Steam Organic Combined Cycles Enable Economic Utilization of Geothermal and
Waste Heat Sources", World Energy Conference, Tokyo, Japan, 1995.
ORC Power Plant For Waste Heat Recovery.pdf [1]

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