Feasibility assessment of refinery waste heat-to-power conversion using an organic Rankine cycle
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Industrial waste heat is a large potential resource for generation of carbon-free electricity. This study investigates the technical and economic feasibility of converting waste heat from a stream of liquid kerosene which must be cooled down to control the vacuum distillation temperature. The process conditions were determined for a simple 250 kW organic Rankine cycle (ORC) with a heat extraction loop. The pinch point technique was adopted to determine the optimum evaporation and condensation temperatures and assess the influence of the kerosene temperature at the evaporator exit on net power output. The operating conditions and performance of the ORC system were evaluated with eight potential refrigerants and refrigerant mixtures such as R123, R134a, R245fa, isobutane, butane, pentane, an equimolar mixture of butane and pentane, and a mixture of 40% isobutane and 50% butane on a mole basis. A financial model was established for the total plant cost. Results show that isobutane, of the pure fluids, yields the best plant efficiency of 6.8% with approximately half of the kerosene flow available, and the efficiency can be increased up to 7.6% using the butane/pentane mixture. The optimum kerosene temperature at the evaporator outlet is estimated to be 70 °C for all the fluid, except the butane/pentane mixture, which meets the design constraint not to disturb the existing distillation process. A capital cost target of $3000/kW could be achieved with a payback period of 6.8 years and the internal rate of return (IRR) of 21.8%. Therefore, if the detailed engineering, component fabrication and construction can be achieved within the cost target, the installation of a 250 kW ORC waste heat power converter on the kerosene cooling line would be technically feasible and economically viable.
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