[en] The Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) appears progressively as a promising solution to recover waste heat energy from thermal processes for electricity generation. A prototype of small-scale ORC has been built and successfully tested at the University of Liège. It uses R-245fa and R-123 as working fluid, and an oil-free scroll compressor adapted to run in expander mode. Thermodynamic model of the system was derived and validated for performance prediction. The validated thermodynamic model is used to optimize the operation of the small ORC in waste heat recovery application (ORC-WHR). For exhaust gases at 180 ºC and a mass flow rate of 0.21 kg/s, a maximum net power output of 2 kWe is obtained for an evaporator pressure of 11.84 bar. The cycle thermal efficiency is 8.23 and the recuperation efficiency, 66.32%.
Based on the aforementioned conditions, the economic assessment of small scale ORC-WHR was carried out using economic criteria such as levelized electricity cost (LEC), Net present value (NPV) and depreciated payback period (DPP). For a 2kWe ORC-WHR, the specific installed cost is 5775 €/kW with a LEC of 13.27 c€/kWh while for a 50 kWe, the specific installed cost is about 3034 €/kW and the LEC, 7c€/kWh. For an electricity unit price of 20 c€/kWh, the payback period of a 2 kWe system is 6 years while it is 2.5 years for a 50 kWe system.
It is concluded from the study that recovering the waste heat by way of ORCs is technically and economically feasible. As recycled energy, waste heat has the same advantages as renewable energy and should benefit from the same legislative conditions (Feed-in-Laws).