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20 mins
Experimental investigation into an ORC-based low-grade energy recovery system equipped with sliding-vane expander using hot oil from an air compressor as thermal source
Stefano Murgia, Gianluca Valenti, Daniele Colletta, Ida Costanzo, Giulio Contaldi
Session: Session 1C: Volumetric Expanders (1)
Session starts: Wednesday 13 September, 10:30
Presentation starts: 11:30
Room: Building 27 - Lecture room 03

Stefano Murgia (Ing. Enea Mattei Spa)
Gianluca Valenti (Politecnico di Milano)
Daniele Colletta (Ing. Enea Mattei Spa)
Ida Costanzo (Ing. Enea Mattei Spa)
Giulio Contaldi (Ing. Enea Mattei Spa)

Compressed air production is an energy–intensive sector, thus compressor manufacturers are constantly looking for enhancing the efficiency, by acting on several technological aspects. In an air compressor, about 80-90% of the input electric power used is wasted into the environment through the oil circuit, continuously cooled by ambient air blown via a fan. An interesting way to optimize the overall system efficiency is to exploit this waste heat to produce electrical power. Organic Rankine Cycles (ORCs) are a suitable solution for recovering energy from low-grade heat source. In this paper, an experimental analysis of two low-grade ORC-based recovery systems is presented. The thermal source is the hot lubricant of a mid-size air compressor, while the thermal sink is tap water. The first system is tested in a simple cycle configuration while the second in a recuperative one. An extensive experimental campaign is carried out on a test bench composed by sliding-vane expander, pump and plate heat exchangers. The expander differs in terms of geometry and aspect ratio between the two cycles. R236fa is used as working fluid in both the systems. The expander operating conditions are deeply investigated by using piezoelectric pressure transducers to determine the expansion indicated diagram and the expander mechanical efficiency. Experimental results show that the recuperative cycle has a better performance, in terms of cycle efficiency and expander mechanical efficiency, compared with the simple cycle. For this configuration, two off-design conditions are investigated, acting on the pump rotational speed. Finally, an exergy analysis is conducted, in order to evaluate the irreversible losses produced by each component.