Preliminary analysis of organic Rankine cycles to improve vehicle efficiency

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12 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the background rationale and key findings for a model-based study of supercritical waste heat recovery organic Rankine cycles. The paper’s objective is to cover the necessary groundwork to facilitate the future operation of a thermodynamic organic Rankine cycle model under realistic thermodynamic boundary conditions for performance optimisation of organic Rankine cycles. This involves determining the type of power cycle for organic Rankine cycles, the circuit configuration and suitable boundary conditions. The study focuses on multiple heat sources from vehicles but the findings are generally applicable, with careful consideration, to any waste heat recovery system. This paper introduces waste heat recovery and discusses the general merits of organic fluids versus water and supercritical operation versus subcritical operation from a theoretical perspective and, where possible, from a practical perspective. The benefits of regeneration are investigated from an efficiency perspective for selected subcritical and supercritical conditions. A simulation model is described with an introduction to some general Rankine cycle boundary conditions. The paper describes the analysis of real hybrid vehicle data from several driving cycles and its manipulation to represent the thermal inertia for model heat input boundary conditions. Basic theory suggests that selecting the operating pressures and temperatures to maximise the Rankine cycle performance is relatively straightforward. However, it was found that this may not be the case for an organic Rankine cycle operating in a vehicle. When operating in a driving cycle, the available heat and its quality can vary with the power output and between heat sources. For example, the available coolant heat does not vary much with the load, whereas the quantity and quality of the exhaust heat varies considerably. The key objective for operation in the vehicle is optimum utilisation of the available heat by delivering the maximum work out. The fluid selection process and the presentation and analysis of the final results of the simulation work on organic Rankine cycles are the subjects of two future publications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1142-1153
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part D: Journal of Automobile Engineering
Issue number10
Early online date15 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014


  • Waste heat recovery
  • organic Rankine cycle
  • supercritical conditions
  • driving cycle
  • thermal inertia
  • hybrid vehicle


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