Design & Optimization of Organic Rankine Cycle Solar-Thermal Powerplants
McMahan, Andrew C.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
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Solar-thermal powerplants have enjoyed limited success in the energy market to date. The ability to better characterize the performance of existing solar-thermal technologies as well as investigate the potential of new technologies is a crucial step in developing more economically viable designs. To this end, computer models and simulation capability are developed in this thesis to predict the performance of several emerging solar-thermal powerplant technologies. Specifically, models of organic Rankine cycles and packed-bed stratified (thermocline) thermal energy storage systems are developed. These models provide a low-cost context for analyzing the design and optimization (both economic and engineering) of solar-thermal technologies that show tremendous unrealized potential. Organic Rankine cycles have unique properties that are well suited to solar power generation. The thermodynamic potential of a variety organic Rankine cycle working fluids and configurations are analyzed. In addition, a general economic optimization methodology for solar-thermal organic Rankine cycle powerplants is developed and presented. The methodology is applied to an existing plant design which demonstrates opportunities for further optimization in current design practice. Thermal energy storage enables powerplant output to be tailored to meet end-user demands. The design and integration of thermal energy storage systems is discussed. Plant operating and control strategies for a variety of utility pricing schedules are developed and analyzed. The potential for thermal energy storage to impact the economic attractiveness of solar power generation is shown to be heavily dependent on energy market structure and utility pricing strategies.
Thesis (M.S.)--University of Wisconsin--Madison, 2006.
Dissertations Academic Mechanical Engineering.
University of Wisconsin--Madison. College of Engineering.