Numerical CFD Simulations and Indicated Pressure Measurements on a Sliding Vane Expander for Heat to Power Conversion Applications

Authors: Bianchi G, Rane S, Fatigati F, Cipollone R, Kovačević A
Where published:Analysis , and Design of Positive Displacement Machines: Papers Presented at the 4th Forum on CFD in Positive Displacement Machines , Modelling

The paper presents an extensive investigation of a small-scale sliding vane rotary expander operating with R245fa. The key novelty is in an innovative operating layout, which considers a secondary inlet downstream of the conventional inlet port. The additional intake supercharges the expander by increasing the mass of the working fluid in the working chamber during the expansion process; this makes it possible to harvest a greater power output within the same machine. The concept of supercharging is assessed in this paper through numerical computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations which are validated against experimental data, including the mass flow rate and indicated pressure measurements. When operating at 1516 rpm and between pressures of 5.4 bar at the inlet and 3.2 bar at the outlet, the supercharged expander provided a power output of 325 W. The specific power output was equal to 3.25 kW/(kg/s) with a mechanical efficiency of 63.1%. The comparison between internal pressure traces obtained by simulation and experimentally is very good. However, the numerical model is not able to account fully for the overfilling of the machine. A comparison between a standard and a supercharged configuration obtained by CFD simulation shows that the specific indicated power increases from 3.41 kW/(kg/s) to 8.30 kW/(kg/s). This large power difference is the result of preventing overexpansion by supercharging. Hence, despite the greater pumping power required for the increased flow through the secondary inlet, a supercharged expander would be the preferred option for applications where the weight of the components is the key issue, for example, in transport applications.

Keywords: dynamic computational grid ,  indicated pressure ,  Organic Rankine Cycle ,  R245fa ,  sliding vane expander ,  user defined nodal displacement ,  waste heat recovery , Computational Fluid Dynamics , expander