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Organic Rankine Cycle Process Simulator Selection Linkedin Version 07/29/13
Ivan A. Gargurevich, PhD
Summary As a result of the analysis conducted in this report, it is recommended to continue the use of ASPEN PLUS as the process simulator of choice for modeling Organic Rankine Cycle for Waste Heat to Energy conversion. The recommendation is based on several factors, with the most important being that a present ASPEN simulation is already in use by the author. Other factors that have played a role in the decision is ASPEN’s cost comparability with CHEMCAD (optional software of choice), and the superior sophistication offered by ASPEN in terms of unit operation modeling, and thermodynamic and physical property data (relevant to refrigerant compounds). Introduction The methodology for simulator selection was very similar to what is outlined by T. T. Nichols (2001) in the document titled “Selection of Steady-State Process Simulation Software to Optimize Treatment of Radioactive and Hazardous Waste” prepared for the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. In this respect, the work of H. L. Lam et al. (2010) also provides useful guidelines and information for software selection. The process simulator to be selected should meet closely the following requirements: (1) Process Envelope. Routines must be available to properly model and size the unit operations involved in the Organic Rankine cycle. An example of this is the need to simulate the pump characteristics for the refrigerant or working fluid in the cycle loop, i.e., to be able to enter the pump performance map into the modeling of the pump. (2) Functionality and Performance The simulator should be able to predict performance of the Rankine Cycle under conditions other than design. Obviously, the software must be “user friendly” and easily interact with the user. (3) Thermodynamic and Physical Properties Database The Organic Rankine Cycle will make use of organic compounds as the working fluid. The process simulator must incorporate as a complete database for their thermodynamic and physical properties as possible. It must also be able to
import outside databases such as REFPROP by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (4) Integration The process simulator must integrate well with past, present, and future efforts for modeling Organic Rankine Cycles. ASPEN has been the simulator of choice in previous simulations by the author, so on this basis alone, this simulator would be preferred over others. However, present as well as future simulation needs must also be considered in the final selection. For example, the simulator will be used to fully map the performance of a given system including equipment such as pump, expander, heat exchangers, receiver, and piping, under loads other than design at steady state conditions. (5) Cost If several simulators meet the above factors equally, cost could be the deciding factor in the final selection. Discussion A simplified diagram of a typical Organic Rankine Cycle is shown in Figure 1. Working fluid is pumped through an evaporator to produced superheated vapor. The vapor drives a turbine to generate electricity. Low pressure vapor is partially cooled in the regenerator or economizer, and finally condensed in the condenser. This is the process that the simulator of choice must model including rating of the exchangers under offspec conditions (preferably). The most common process simulators were considered in this study: ASPEN PLUS, PRO II, and CHEMCAD. As previously stated ASPEN is the simulator of choice by others as well as presently used by the author. Pro II was eliminated from consideration because it did not provide significant cost savings that is known to the author over ASPEN, while CHEMCAD seemed to be considerably cheaper than ASPEN or PRO II. It must also be noted that PRO II has been the simulator of choice in the Petroleum and Hydrocarbon industry, while ASPEN, in the past, was chosen for design of chemical manufacturing processes or chemical processes involving solutions of electrolytes. CHEMCAD has gained prominence over the last few years, and in many instances because of its cost, is the chosen simulator over ASPEN or PRO II. Table 1 provides a comparison of the factors discussed in the introduction for ASPEN PLUS and CHEMCAD. Both ASPEN and CHEMCAD provide a user-friendly environment. The differences here are not significant.
Figure 1. Organic Rankine Cycle Diagram
Table 1. Comparison of Selection Factors FACTOR
Largest set of unit operations. Widely used in the Chemical industry.
It appears to include a diverse set of unit operations. It includes batch simulation capability Reports can be exported to Excel. Database is adequate including electrolytes. Includes 1500 component DIPPR data base. It can import REFPROP. It can map performance of pump. Exchanger sizing & rating requires separate subroutine with added cost (same subroutine for all exchanger types). Turbine performance mapping would have to be investigated. See Table 2. Comparable with ASPEN
Functionality & Performance Thermodynamic & Physical Property Database Integration
Offers user-defined extensibility with respect to property models, database, and unit operations. Extensive database including REFPROP (import). It includes extensive Electrolytes properties. It has been the choice by others. It can map performance of pump, turbine. Requires separate subroutines to size & rate exchangers. Each type of exchanger requires a different add-on.
See Table 2
Aspen is a superior simulator in terms of unit operations models and thermodynamic modeling of electrolytes. Previous simulations has proven the feasibility of modeling the performance of the turbine with ASPEN. The feasibility or ease of modeling the turbine with CHEMCAD would have to be investigated further. Both ASPEN PLUS, as well as CHEMCAD, requires adding subroutines to conduct rigorous sizing and rating of heat exchangers, for example, to model off-spec performance. The difference is that CHEMCAD THERM is a subroutine for sizing and rating various types of exchangers including air coolers, while ASPEN PLUS requires separate subroutines for each type of exchanger. In this respect, CHEMCAD is then more flexible. An option to purchasing a exchanger subroutine is to use a user input mathematical routine to correct the heat transfer coefficient for changes in flow conditions to estimate exchanger performance with both ASPEN and CHEMCAD. As Table 2 shows, the cost of annual lease for ASPEN and CHEMCAD is comparable if CHEMCAD is to have the capability of rating heat exchangers. Note that ASPEN PLUS licensing fees would include software maintenance and support. Table 2. Cost Comparison. ANNUAL LEASE PRICE CHEMCAD VENDOR(2010) VENDOR(2010) MAIN THERM ADD-ON $13,750/YR $11,550/YR $9,775/YR $4,825/YR $4,050/YR $3,425/YR
ASPEN CPS 2009(?) APPROXIMATE $18,000/YR $15,000/YR $12,000/YR
ASPEN ASPEN(2010) S&T ADD-ON ONLY $7,500 $7,000
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In addition to the above factors, it must be noted that a literature search via the internet shows that ASPEN seems to be the simulator of choice for most investigators modeling and optimizing Organic Rankine Cycles. See for example, I. Saavedra et al. (2010), and Hassani & Price (2001). To continue the use of ASPEN PLUS with the existing CPS ORC simulation could result in savings of 2-3 months of engineering labor, or about $10,000-$15,000.
Conclusions Based on the analysis presented on this report, it is recommended to continue the use of ASPEN PLUS as the simulator of choice for the Organic Rankine Cycle. First, it has already been used to model an actual pilot plant under investigation successfully. The cost is comparable with a second option such as CHEMCAD. There would be considerable cost savings in the continued use of ASPEN PLUS since an existing simulation is available from CPS Florida. ASPEN will provide a great degree of flexibility in terms of unit operations and thermodynamic and physical properties. It is superior to what CHEMCAD offers at this time. References Hassani, V., and H. W. Price, “Modular Trough Power Plants”, Proceedings of the Solar Forum 2001, Solar Energy: The Power to Choose, April 21-25, 2001, Washington DC. Lam, H. L. et al., “Software Tools Overview: Process Integration, Modelling, and Optimization for Energy Saving and Pollution Reduction”, Asia-Pacific Journal of Chemical Engineering (2010), DOI: 10.1002/apj. Nichols, T. T., “Selection of Steady-State Process Simulation Software to Optimize Treatment of Hazardous Waste”, May 2001, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, DOE Idaho Operations Office, Contract DE-AC0799ID13727. Saavedra, I. et al., “Thermodynamic Optimization of Organic Rankine Cycles at Several Condensing Temperatures: Case Study of Waste Heat Recovery in Natural Gas Compressor Station”, J. Power and Energy: Proc. IMechE Vol 224 Part A , May 2010, DOI:10.1243/09576509JPE998.
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