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Carlo De Servi1


Stefano Campanari
Politecnico di Milano,
Department of Energy,
Via Lambruschini 4,
20156 Milano, Italy

Alessio Tizzanini
Enel Ingegneria e Ricerca SpA,
Via Mantova 24,
00198 Roma, Italy

Claudio Pietra
Turboden s.r.l.,
Via Cernaia 10,
25124 Brescia, Italy


Enhancement of the Electrical
Efficiency of Commercial
Fuel Cell Units by Means
of an Organic Rankine Cycle:
A Case Study
Among the various fuel cell (FC) systems, molten carbonate fuel cells (MCFC) are nowadays one of the most promising technologies, thanks to the lower specific costs and a very
high electrical efficiency (net low heating value (LHV) electric efficiency in the range
45%–50% at MWel scale using natural gas as fuel). Despite this high performance,
MCFC rejects to the ambient almost half of the fuel energy at about 350–400  C. Waste
heat can be exploited in a recovery Rankine cycle unit, thereby enhancing the electric efficiency of the overall system. Due to the temperature of the heat source and the relatively
small power capacity of MCFC plants (from few hundred kWel to 10 MWel), steam Rankine cycle technology is uneconomical and less efficient compared to that of the organic
Rankine cycle (ORC). The objective of this work is to verify the practical feasibility of the
integration between a MCFC system (topping unit) and an ORC turbogenerator (bottoming unit). The potential benefits of the combined plant are assessed in relation to a commercial MCFC stack. In order to identify the most suitable working fluids for the ORC
system, organic substances are considered and compared. The figure of merit is the maximum net power of the overall system. Finally, the economical benefits of the integration
are determined by evaluating the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of the combined
plant, with respect to the standalone MCFC system. In order to assess the economic viability of the bottoming power unit, two cases are considered. In the first one, the ORC
power output is approximately 500 kWel; in the latter, about 1 MWel. Results show that
the proposed solution can increase the electrical power output and efficiency of the plant
by more than 10%, well exceeding 50% overall electrical efficiency. In addition, the
LCOE of the combined power plant is 8% lower than the standalone MCFC system.
[DOI: 10.1115/1.4023119]


Fuel cells (FC) are a promising technology for distributed electricity production, especially for power applications in the few
hundred kWel to 10-MWel capacity range. They exhibit high electrical efficiency and low pollutants emissions, they can be applied
to combined heat and power generation (CHP), and they can use
natural gas as primary fuel as well as biogas (for instance, from
wastewater treatment) or fuel blends. Despite these figures of
merit, they have achieved limited penetration into the energy market, mainly due to their high specific costs compared to other conventional technologies. A possible way to improve power plant
economics consists of enhancing its electrical efficiency as much
as possible. Waste heat dissipated by the stack or the exhaust
gases can be exploited to generate additional electricity in an organic Rankine cycle (ORC) heat recovery system [1,2]. In this paper, the potential benefits of the integration between a fuel cell
power plant (topping unit) and an ORC genset (bottoming unit)
are assessed in relation to a specific commercial molten carbonate
fuel cell (MCFC) system [3]. This kind of fuel cell has been
selected due to its well-established performance, potential competitiveness, practical availability on the market, and an exhaust
gas temperature consistent with the use of a heat recovery cycle

The MCFC stack releases exhaust gases at a relatively low temperature, namely about 380  C. This heat source is particularly
suitable for recovery in a bottoming unit based on ORC technology. ORC power plants are nowadays more and more applied in
many fields as, for instance, in the exploitation of low enthalpy
geothermal sources [5] or biomass thermal conversion. In order to
identify the most suitable working fluids for the analyzed case
study, different candidate substances are considered and compared
in both subcritical and supercritical ORC configurations. The net
power of the bottoming system is maximized by optimizing its
thermodynamic parameters, the maximum pressure, and temperature of the cycle. The detailed simulations of the ORC are performed in a commercial process modeling tool [6], while an
optimization algorithm implemented in an external programming
environment [7] varies cycle parameters until the maximum value
of the objective function is reached.
Finally, the paper presents a preliminary economic analysis in
order to investigate the feasibility of the proposed solution.
Thanks to the modular features of the fuel cell system, two different power capacities of the combined plant are considered (500
kWel and 1 MWel, respectively), in order to assess the effect of
the bottoming unit capacity on the economics of the entire plant.


Corresponding author.
Contributed by the International Gas Turbine Institute of (IGTI) ASME for
received February 29, 2012; final manuscript received October 21, 2012; published
online March 18, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Piero Colonna.


In the frame of the various FC technologies, MCFCs feature
one of the lowest specific costs and a very high efficiency [8]. One
of the most experienced companies in this field claims that
MCFCs electricity costs are about 1.2 to 1.5 times the costs of

Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power
C 2013 by ASME
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APRIL 2013, Vol. 135 / 042309-1

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and Drescher and Bru¨ggemann [13] suggested the exploitation of alkylbenzenes in biomass CHP plants. Extensive surveys about this kind of application have been already presented in literature: Angelino and Invernizzi [12] considered aromatics hydrocarbons. In principle. such detailed data only exist for a limited number of fluids. thermal energy in the exhaust gases is recovered for CHP.1% 17. The temperature threshold.4]. such as reciprocating engines or gas turbines. or of technical papers about real applications [19.600 4. For thermal stability of n-butane.3% 68. or air) [12.1% 68.16. moisture. the thermal stability gets worse with fluids having higher molecular weight branched molecules are less thermally stable than straight chains. it can be concluded that: • • • for similar substances (i. as other fluids with similar molecular structure: n-butane and n-hexane as n-pentane. or other impurities in the system For the considered case study. no reliable references are available in literature. the performance of alkanes [1] and siloxanes mixtures [2]. organic substances undergo chemical decomposition at high temperature [14].0% 4.84 kg/s 379  C 042309-2 / Vol.16]. available information is limited to laboratory tests. Even if the MCFC system exhibits a high efficiency. the implementation of the ORC turbogenerator can be designed also as a plant .g. As Table 2 shows. Four classes of substances can be recognized: aromatic hydrocarbons. in the MWel capacity range. This reduction is almost linear over time and is periodically recovered with a maintenance procedure based on stack replacement [3] (every five years.61 kg/s 369  C 4. and hydrofluorocarbons. siloxanes. alkanes.Table 1 Main performance data of the MCFC unit [10] MCFC system are equal to the average between the beginning of life (BOL) and the end of life (EOL) conditions. from literature sources [12. since fluid degradation is a complex irreversible phenomenon influenced by several aspects.15]. Testing equipments should reproduce realistic operating conditions. siloxanes. For these reasons. and D3 as the other siloxanes.5 0.8% 67.. which can also be technically and economically attractive. at 290  C cyclohexane Transactions of the ASME Downloaded From: http://gasturbinespower. these substances are supposed to behave at high temperature. and ring structures are the most thermally stable (e.3% 18. and the maximum operating temperature of the thermodynamic cycle is limited to preserve the useful life of the ORC working medium.0% 5. fluids suitable for the analyzed application must feature a high level of thermal stability.asme. as a first approximation. According to Ref. whose data are summarized in Table 1. the integration of the MCFC unit with the ORC turbogenerator requires only simple modifications to the plant layout: the addition of a counter-flow heat exchanger to heat the ORC working fluid.045 0.. Due to the temperature of the exhaust gases (380 6 10  C) and the current limited power capacity of the FC plant. substantially higher than conventional competitive technologies. 3. the constraint on the maximum temperature limits the candidate working fluids to the list reported in Table 3. The stability thresholds (Tstab) of Table 3 are assessed on the basis of specific experimental investigation [14. lubricants. it can be more attractive to recover waste heat in a bottoming power unit [1. In this study.0% 9. APRIL 2013 3 Thermodynamic Design of the Heat Recovery Cycle and Working Fluid Selection One of the main steps in designing ORC processes is the selection of the working fluid. In general. mainly due to their specific costs (2500–2800 e/kWel for the MWel scale [9]). Angelino and Colonna di Paliano studied. 135. Andersen and Bruno [17] found that toluene decomposes at 315  C with a rate higher than that of n-pentane. MCFCs are about 10 times cleaner in terms of NOx emissions versus competitive conventional technologies. and allied compounds for space power cycles. the residence time. depending upon the price of fuel [9].2% 100. Temperature and composition of exhaust gases vary during the useful life of the MCFC unit due to changes in efficiency of the FC system.e.6% 100.009 445 conventional power systems. These discrepancies are generally due to differences in test conditions that make the data retrieved in literature not strictly comparable [12].5% 18. benzene) thermal stability of organic fluids is negatively influenced by the presence of air. n-hexane. with the same chemical structure). Since the exhaust gases are released from the MCFC unit at about 380  C.18.5% 9.8-MWel MCFC power plant [10]. in order to improve the fuel cell power plant economy. and they are the most fuel-efficient (net LHV electric efficiency in the range 45%–50%) and lowest CO2 emission fossil-fuelled power generation technology available on the market [9]. the heat recovery cycle is classified as a high temperature ORC [11]. Therefore. Unlike water. For example. almost half of the fuel energy is rejected to the ambient. For the others. MCFC units are already commercially available.27]. this kind of heat source is particularly suitable for recovery in an ORC system. and D3. However. temperature. the results of which are sometimes ambiguous [12. below which thermal degradation occurs at an acceptable rate. For this reason. and mass flow rate of the exhaust gases. Moreover. as generally proposed by manufacturers). it is possible to model the FC plant by referring to mean values of composition.1 Thermal Stability. However. from an economical point of on 08/08/2014 Terms of Use: http://asme.2. for the purpose of this study. and the nature and quantity of impurities (moisture. and temperature for the MCFC unit [9] Components (mol %) CO2 H2O N2 O2 Total Mass flow rate Temperature (  C) BOL EOL Assumed value 4.1% 100. should be assessed by experimental investigation.5% 10. On the contrary.07 kg/s 390  C 4. and it is currently used in a power cycle with a turbine inlet temperature of 325  C [19]. MCFC “DFC3000” performance data Power output @ BOL (beginning of life) Power output @ EOL (end of life) Efficiency (LHV) Exhaust temperature Exhaust flow NOx emissions SOx emissions PM10 CO2 (kWel) (kWel) (%) (  C) (kg/h) (g/MWh) (g/MWh) (g/MWh) (kg/MWh) 2800 2520 47 6 2 379 6 10 16. cyclobutane as cyclopentane. However. mass flow rate. The power output of a MCFC stack typically suffers from a progressive performance decay. cyclobutane. perfluorobenzene. the assumed data for the Table 2 Exhaust flow composition. [24]. in addition to the previous substances.asmedigitalcollection.0% 4. the MCFC unit is modeled according to the performance of a commercial 2. MCFCs do qualify in many countries for government support grants and subsidies to encourage ultraclean power generation [9]. Generally.17]. It is also necessary to clarify that the threshold temperature associated with cyclohexane has only a qualitative validity.20–26]. Therefore. such as the type of containing materials. if available. even if they have not yet achieved significant penetration into the energy market. it was successfully tested in a dynamic test loop at 400  C [18]. Most of these fluids show good thermal stability at least up to 270  C.

60 135. For this reason and also for precautionary considerations. [17. In order to identify the most suitable fluids for the investigated application.asmedigitalcollection. Since toluene is currently employed in ORC systems and the toxicity level of the other considered aromatic hydrocarbons. the table shows the CAS number. However. [22] – – – Hydrofluorocarbons HFC R125 354-33-6 R134a 811-97-2 R143a 420-46-2 R227a 431-89-0 R236fa 690-39-1 R245fa 460-73-1 66. is 1 ppm for benzene. the normal boiling temperature. it is assumed that only benzene is affected by a level of toxicity incompatible with ORC applications.01 28.09 –26. [24] n. 135 / 042309-3 Downloaded From: http://gasturbinespower. not adequate for industrial applications. 11 Substance Cyclohexane Linear siloxanes MM MDM MD2M 110-82-7 280.67 37. 3. 107-46-0 107-51-7 141-62-8 245. [23. hydrocarbons as toluene and pentane have been successfully used at relatively high temperature [16. PC.60 290. Cyclic alkanes Cyclobutane Cyclopentane 287-23-0 287-92-3 186. it is important to consider that some of the reported values of Tstab are assessed in particular experimental conditions. For this reason.44 15. In order to evaluate this aspect.60 138. by considering pure fluids or test lengths limited to few hours [14].51 194. [28] and [29].34 –0.03 152.26] > 350.35 346.16 < 290. and the molecular weight.27 100.53 310.19 134. to simulate the integration of the ORC system with the fuel cell plant and to assess the maximum 1 The occupational exposure limit.15 12.25 32. Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power • • • Substances with a GWP greater than 1370 (i.2 The flammability hazard posed by each fluid is controllable by designing properly the ORC components.36 162.11 70.60 343.31 144.96 33.2 Environmental Impact and Safety Issues. [14] > 350. [18.17 106.19.17 106. TC.14 106. Note that R-134a will be phased out of automotive airconditioning applications in Europe due to its GWP by 2017.40 45. and the global warming potential.15 86. CAS number TC (  C) PC (bar) TB (  C) MW (kg/kmol) Tstab (  C) GWP Aromatic hydrocarbons Benzene Toluene p-Xylene o-Xylene m-Xylene Ethylbenzene Propylbenzene Buthylbenzene 71-43-2 108-88-3 106-42-3 95-47-6 108-38-3 100-41-4 103-65-1 104-51-8 . APRIL 2013. All the substances listed in Table 3. [30].09 175. the thermal stability threshold.98 196. n. [21] > 350.02 102. the following criteria are applied: • Fluids with ODP higher than zero have to be discarded.04 357.90 222. against 100 ppm of toluene and xylene.10 36.14 120. ASHRAE safety classification or occupational exposure limit (OEL).15 12. for these fluids.Table 3 Working fluids for high temperature ORC. exhibits only a marginal stability.28 343.14 387.92 154. [22] > 350.54 48.a. since (i) Ref.49 36. features good thermal stability up to 300  C [20]. the same thermal stability threshold of cyclopentane is assumed. c D3 thermal stability has been assumed equal to that of the other siloxanes.25 19.27] without posing any serious problem.26 35. cyclopentane.35 210.07 110. [14] 260–300. the hazard control requirements increase the cost of the ORC installation [15].17 159.40 36. [14. according to the safety precautions prescribed in the operating environment [15.71 101. except benzene.33 49.71 58.07 –47.38 139. for instance. – – – – – – – – Linear alkanes n-Butane n-Pentane n-Hexane 106-97-8 109-66-0 110-54-3 151.55 234.15] 3420 1370 4180 3580 9820 1050 a Since no detailed data are available in the literature regarding n-butane and n-hexane. GWP.a.04 170.05 > 350.24 –16.85 238.97 365.69 > 350. [24] 300. when available. TB.62 370.39 14. such as ozone depletion potential (ODP) and GWP. [27] 270a 20 20 n.19.25 56. the same thermal stability threshold of n-pentane is assumed. Tstab. For each fluid.17 120.34 –1. [20] n. provided that no interaction with air occurs.18 40. b Since no detailed data are available in the literature for cyclobutane.04 134.70 343.60 13.06 72.87 318.60 68. and pressure.3 Screening of Working Fluids. is comparable to that one of toluene (and also of some refrigerants). [24] n.03 84.77 > 350c > 350. Vol. [24] < 290.13 300b 300. the GWP of R-134a. [21] 350. and 300 ppm of R245fa.45 35.07 136. Candidate substances suitable for ORC power systems should also feature a limited environmental impact. the threshold below which a toxic substance has no effect on the health of the workers for an exposure period of 8 h per day. Nevertheless.38 236.74 84. In the present study.87 80.32 11.25] 300.11 92.24] > 350. some parameters are taken into account.00 313. these values can be higher than those applicable to a real application. it is necessary. 3.17 106. one of the most used fluids in refrigeration applications) feature an unacceptable environmental impact.asme.a. MW. [22. the critical temperature. Looking at Table 3.34]. because they will be phased out over the next few years.94 326.16 on 08/08/2014 Terms of Use: http://asme.06 41.22 > 350.12 72. [24] does not describe how such a result has been obtained and (ii) there are other laboratory tests proving that a molecule of the same class.51 –48.49 40. [24] 300.e.02 101.70 30. present reasonably low toxicity characteristics.46 296.20 183. while the global warming potential (GWP) is taken from Ref.61 29. for each organic substance. and the flammability level [31–33].a. Tstab of cyclohexane is assumed equal to 290  C. Thermodynamic properties of the fluids of Table 3 are retrieved from Refs.a.26] > 350.26 37.53 49. [23] – – – Cyclic siloxanes D3 D4 D5 541-05-9 556-67-2 541-02-6 281.59 37.00 16.75 80.75 124.25 152. For instance.. [14] > 350.00 36. hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) are not examined.18 270a 270.26 78.

it is more convenient to maximize electricity production in the ORC unit and exploit the residual thermal energy of the flue gases for cogeneration purposes.9 achievable power. detailed simulations of the integrated power plant are carried out. With reference to the case study. For each selected on 08/08/2014 Terms of Use: http://asme. as a precaution against excessive inward leaking of incondensable gases in the condenser. namely. fluids with high Tcond achieve lower performance in a waste heat recovery . the worst conversion performance. by far. The main assumptions are summarized below: • Efficiency values of turbine and feed pumps are set to the same values for all the considered fluids (values are suggested by the ORC manufacturer [35] and are reported in Table 5).0 35.9 132. 3.2 are not considered) Substance R134a Cyclopentane Cyclobutane R245fa Cyclohexane n-Hexane n-Pentane n-Butane MM Toluene D3 Ethylbenzene p-Xylene m-Xylene o-Xylene MDM D4 MD2M D5 CAS number Tcond (  C) 811-97-2 287-92-3 287-23-0 460-73-1 110-82-7 110-54-3 109-66-0 106-97-8 107-46-0 108-88-3 541-05-9 100-41-4 106-42-3 108-38-3 95-47-6 107-51-7 556-67-2 141-62-8 541-02-6 35. since data about MCFC exhaust gases (composition.0 37. some preliminary simulations have clearly shown that fluids characterized by a condensation temperature higher than 60  C allow achieving. 3.0 35. In addition.0 35.6 68. more costly requirements would be needed in order to maintain stable vacuum conditions. because cooling water at 15  C is assumed. while cycle parameters are optimized by an external code implemented in a general purpose technical computing environment [7]. which would negatively affect conversion efficiency and the thermal stability of the working fluid [12. the net power of the ORC genset. For each fluid. even if the operating parameters. For this reason.7 74. Condensation heat is not exploited for cogeneration. In general. APRIL 2013 Fig. The optimization algorithm iteratively changes the maximum temperature (vapor temperature at turbine inlet) and the evaporation pressure of the working medium in order to maximize the objective function. but is dissipated to the environment. Simulations require solving the mass and energy balances only for the ORC system.16].1 82. In fact.3 67. the ORC condensing temperature is thus prescribed by applying the more restrictive constraint (see Table 4). and the power size have a strong influence on component Saturation curves of selected fluids Transactions of the ASME Downloaded From: http://gasturbinespower. two technical constraints are imposed: (1) The minimum cycle temperature is 35  C. since they reject thermal energy at a temperature which is higher than the prescribed minimum (35  C).0 35. 2 Layout of the integrated plant strongly penalized. These substances. temperature. for the analyzed system. 2. it is advisable to reduce the number of candidate fluids by discarding those requiring a relatively high condensation temperature (Tcond).0 35.Table 4 Condensation temperature of candidate fluids (fluids which do not satisfy the environmental requirements discussed in Sec.8 69. Since this operation is time consuming. 135. 1.asmedigitalcollection. highlighted in bold in Table 4.5 118.0 35. ORC simulations are performed using a commercial simulation tool [6]. fluids demanding higher condensing temperature are Fig. The layout of the combined plant is shown in Fig. even in the case of a CHP application.0 68. At the condenser.0 35. the fluid properties. are not further considered in the analysis.3 103. as usually done in biomassfired ORC power plants. 1 042309-4 / Vol.3 45. whose saturation curves are shown in Fig.4 Optimal Fluids.asme. (2) The minimum condensation pressure is 100 kPa. and mass flow rate) are provided by the manufacturer [9].

7a 75. Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power exhaust gases inlet temperature and heat capacity. 4. 4. PHE (  C) DTp. A crucial aspect for the validity of ORC simulations is the selection of a reliable equation of state (EOS) for the estimation of the thermodynamic properties of the working fluid.p. therefore. for the analyzed case study. In general. Vol. this effect does not occur when the DTp.asme.Table 5 Component efficiency and operating parameters Turbine efficiency (%) Pump efficiency (%) Cooling water temperature (  C) Cooling water maximum temperature increase (  C) Minimum temperature working fluid (  C) Minimum pressure working fluid (kPa) DTp. depending on the Fig.asmedigitalcollection. Cooling water is assumed available at 15  C. but. 135 / 042309-5 Downloaded From: http://gasturbinespower. it comes out that regeneration has no influence on ORC net power production.2 15 8 35 100 30 15 a Overall turbine efficiency is estimated assuming 82% isentropic efficiency and 96% mechanical efficiency. The regenerator is included in the ORC plant layout for each of the candidate fluids. APRIL 2013. However. and consider the composite temperature thermal power curve (T-Q curve) of the exhaust gases and the working medium reported in Fig. Therefore. In case of MM. Pinch point does not occur at the ends of PHE.p. 3.p. regeneration entails two benefits: (1) Due to the higher temperature of exhaust gases at the PHE outlet. the pinch point position in the PHE occurs at a certain point along the T-Q curves. The mass flow rate of the generated vapor is defined by the thermal power recoverable between the exhaust inlet and the pinch point of the PHE. Reference or technical equations of state (REOS) have been developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) for a number of organic substances [28]. thus increasing the net electricity production of the plant. the pinch point moves at a lower temperature and then the vapor mass flow rate decreases (it can be deduced by observing the increase in the slope of the composite curve of the working fluid in the T-Q diagram). Suppose that the optimal value of turbine inlet temperature and cycle pressure have been . The pinch point position is at the inlet of PHE. At the same turbine inlet temperature and cycle pressure.p. The condensation temperature of each fluid is reported in Table 4. If fluid regeneration is not performed. The last assumption is motivated by the fact that regeneration reduces heat recovery (due to the higher inlet temperature of the working fluid in PHE). allowing for a condensation temperature of 35 if the resulting pressure is above 100 kPa. does not affect or allows for an increase of the ORC power output [36]. this approximation does not compromise the identification of most suitable organic substances for the power plant [1]. the regenerator positively affects the electricity production. respectively. and cyclobutane. a simpler and less accurate thermodynamic model has been employed. depending on the working medium and operating conditions. but they are fixed to 30  C and 15  C. without regeneration. the pinch point position and mass flow rate of vapor do not change. cyclopentane. On the contrary. among which most of the fluids are used in refrigeration. (2) Since the maximum temperature increase of cooling water is 8  C. namely the Peng–Robinson Fig. Pinch point occurs at the inlet of the working fluid in PHE. Once the cycle parameters are on 08/08/2014 Terms of Use: http://asme. and 5 in Fig. penalizing the net power output. REG (  C) 78. 3 The composite temperature thermal power curve (T-Q curve) of the exhaust gases and the working medium. of the condenser is instead kept constant. The two following arguments can explain this result. The maximum temperature increase of cooling water is limited to 8  C.p. Now consider the case of Fig. the net power of the cycle remains constant (if variations in the pressure drops across the heat exchangers of the ORC unit are neglected).. in compliance with typical environmental regulations. since the outlet and inlet condition of turbine and feed pump are fixed (points 1. Moreover. since it enhances the matching between the hot and cold composite curves in the PHE. 2). 2. In this circumstance. Moreover. regeneration permits reducing the power consumption of the condenser pump. the constraint on the DTp. in the primary heat exchanger (PHE) and in the regenerator (REG) are not taken as optimization variables. • • • efficiencies. the remaining thermal energy can be exploited for a cogeneration purpose. In this case. in the PHE univocally defines the mass flow rate of the ORC working fluid. The adopted simulation tool provides the option of estimating fluid properties with REOS only for a limited set of fluids. DTp. a new optimization of the cycle parameters does not improve the solution as much as obtained with fluid regeneration. 4 Composite temperature thermal power curve (T-Q curve) of the exhaust gases and of the working medium. The minimum temperature difference.

b Heat recovery factor. 042309-6 / Vol.65% 24. 6).24 201.35% 42.00 270.16 182.10 290. The cycle is supercritical. because the error introduced by Peng–Robinson EOS is expected to be within the total uncertainty of the overall model of the ORC system.86% 24.72% 82. because the pinch point position is located at the inlet of the working fluid in the PHE.15 193.83% 87. unless cogeneration is exploited.86% 33.91% 22. which allows achieving the maximum performance at relatively low pressure (17 bar).55 181. An arbitrary combination of the cycle parameters can be unfeasible.87 117.cubic equation of state. The results of the optimization procedure are reported in Table 6.68% 37. APRIL 2013 Transactions of the ASME Downloaded From: http://gasturbinespower. The solution found by the optimization procedure should also satisfy physical and technical constraints typical of the ORC process.00 290. 135. except toluene.15% 25.00 53. and this simulated ORC system features also the highest thermal efficiency.51% 81. returning an objective function equal to –1 if any constraint is violated. The net power is scaled assuming 1 MW of recoverable thermal energy from the fuel cell plant.00 290.04 185. 26%.25 174. Refprop Peng Rob. Temperature–entropy diagram for cyclohexane Fig.89% 24. as shown in Fig.64% 74.00 574 214 70 175 354 120 64 39 754 17 26. This procedure has the following advantages: (a) (b) (c) explicit relationships to describe technical and physical constraints of ORC are not needed the original constrained problem is transformed into an unconstrained one the optimization procedure is robust with respect to simulation errors On the other hand.51 89. the cost of the system is bound to be greater) [1]. Substance Cyclohexane Cyclopentane Cyclobutane Toluene n-Hexane n-Pentane R245fa n-Butane MM R134a EOS ORC Net powera (kWel) Tin turbine (  C) Cycle pressure (bar) Vout/Vin turbine gel gII vb Tout exhaust (  C) Cycle type Refprop Peng Rob. the adoption of toluene as the working fluid provides several advantages: (a) (b) Fig.asmedigitalcollection.00 247.76% 74.96 301.95% 82.83 219.40 Supercritical Supercritical Supercritical Saturated Supercritical Supercritical Supercritical Supercritical Supercritical Supercritical a ORC net power is computed as the difference between the electrical power of the turbogenerator and the consumption of the feed pump and the cooling water pump. This result is achievable.28% 23. Peng Rob.01% 24. 6 Temperature–entropy diagram for toluene Table 6 Simulated ORC performance for each candidate working fluid. In comparison to the cyclohexane ORC system. since the pinch point position is not affected by the temperature of the working medium at the inlet of the PHE (see Fig.22 130.00 30. 5 Fluid regeneration is not necessary.84% 23.36% 77.61 122. Peng Rob. the complex method [37] is preferred due to its robustness and relative simplicity. process constraints are embedded in the optimization algorithm.66% 42. so that tackling this optimization problem requires a robust derivative-free method.87 206.24 137. The regenerator improves the performance of the . consequently.86% 79. The organic substance allowing for the best performance is cyclohexane: more than 80% of the MCFC exhaust energy can be converted into electricity.57 48.61% 84.80% 35. this approach has the drawback that the objective function is not continuously differentiable. and this is the case for all other working fluids. For our problem.17% 39. Refprop Refprop Refprop Peng Rob.70 300. thanks to the almost perfect matching between the hot and cold composite curves in the primary heat exchanger. for instance.99 142.asme.58 141. Table rows in bold characters represents the three cases considered in the economic analysis.04 151.85 270.00 260.48% 84. The volume flow ratio (VFR) of the turbine is more favorable (high VFR demands for a complex and large turbine and.98 186.00 143.11 208.00 17. This approximation does not compromise the comparison among the various simulated heat recovery units adopting different working fluids. on 08/08/2014 Terms of Use: http://asme.56% 130.00 80.66% 38.53 145. yielding a two-phase fluid at the outlet of the evaporator or a wet expansion in the turbine.94 136.31% 35.14% 40.16 161.11% 34. which corresponds to an exhaust temperature at stack of 85  C. Therefore.82 161. 221.42 270.38% 23. 5.

it occurs that some thermodynamic states in the expansion are very close to the saturation on 08/08/2014 Terms of Use: http://asme. The system with MM as working fluid is selected for inclusion in the economic analysis. the LCOE of the FC plant decreases about 2.3% (LCOE DFC3000 with cogeneration ¼ 11. it is worth noting that. Finally. Vol.86 2660 8000 2450 1640 2000 25 Temperature–entropy diagram for MM Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power APRIL 2013. is selected for the economic comparison with the standalone MCFC power plant. the toluene ORC unit. especially for an MM ORC system. an aspect which promotes the exploitation of the remaining heat for cogeneration Furthermore. which implies a lower capital expenditure (CAPEX) for the bottoming unit. Table 8 MCFC LCOE assumptions Life of the power plant Fuel cost O&M cost Average power produced Availability Specific cost Thermal power cogenerated for each module Cogeneration time Heat price Fig. in order to point out the influence of scale effects and of the cogeneration option on the economics of the combined plant.1 2. due to lower consumption volumes and different fuel taxation. 7 (year) (e/GJ) (ce/kWh) (kWel) (hour/year) (e/kWel) (kWel) (hour/year) (e/MWh) 15 5. As far as the plant scale is concerned. the choice of MM is also supported by the fact that state-of-the-art high-temperature ORC currently employs mainly siloxanes as working fluids [11]. superheating negatively affects cycle efficiency in case the working fluid features a positive slope (dT/ds) of the saturation vapor curve in the T–s diagram. The revenue related to cogeneration is obtained on the basis of the following hypotheses: (a) (b) (c) The minimum temperature of the exhaust gases at the stack is 85  C (this value corresponds to a return temperature of the water of heating network equal to 70  C). MCFC Unit. These assumptions. overall less than half of the cyclohexane cycle pressure the lower cost of the fluid compared to R245fa the higher temperature of the exhaust gases at the PHE outlet. [33].8 MWel 2  2. one of the major cost items of ORC power plants [38]. since cycle pressure influences specific costs of piping and heat exchangers. The thermal load of the heating system is 2000 equivalent hours per year (which corresponds to the typical load of a heating system at midlatitudes). resulting in an electrical power of the ORC unit between 500–700 . summarized in Table 8.(c) The cycle pressure is lower.9]. In contrast to the procedure followed for the selection of the optimal fluids. For these reasons. The analyzed configurations are summarized in Table 7. In addition. for all cases without cogeneration. this aspect should be further investigated. as well as the cyclohexane one. four different configurations are examined. 4. a loss in electricity production. 4 Economic Analysis of the Combined Plant For each of the selected optimized ORC systems.4 MWel 1–1. The economic benefits due to the integration of the technologies are assessed by evaluating the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of the combined plant with respect to the standalone MCFC system. even if this implies. the LCOE is equal to 11. due to the following attractive features: (a) (b) (c) the low cycle pressure. these two plant configurations are referred to as the 500 kWel and 1 MWel cases. When the exploitation of the remaining heat in the flue gases for cogeneration purposes is also investigated. assuming 15 years of service life of the plant and a cost of natural gas slightly higher than 5 e/GJ [3.8 MWel (1) the combined plant employs two MCFC modules.5 ce per kWel installed. considering the use of waste thermal energy in the flue gases to supply a heating network. two different power capacities of the bottoming system are analyzed: Table 7 Case 1 2 3 4 Configurations examined in the economic analysis ORC size Cogeneration Regenerator MCFC modules 500–700 kWel 500–700 kWel 1–1. a counter-flow heat exchanger is added to the plant layout before the stack.1 Assumptions for the Computation of the LCOE. 5 and 7).4 MWel – Yes – Yes – Yes – Yes 2  2. depending on the considered working fluid (2) the combined plant consists of four MCFC modules and of an ORC genset with a net power output above 1 MWel In the following.8 MWel 4  2. an ORC system featuring a nonhydrocarbon fluid is also considered in order to extend the analysis. even its performance is slightly lower. Simulated heat recovery units employing MM and R245fa as working fluids result in similar performance. In the case of the standalone MCFC unit. the vapor superheating is limited to the amount strictly required in order to avoid that liquid droplets enter the turbine.asmedigitalcollection. although heat prices for civil users can be remarkably higher. in each optimized cycle. a cogenerative configuration is analyzed. 135 / 042309-7 Downloaded From: http://gasturbinespower.24 ec/kWh). Thus.asme. A heat price equal to 25 e/MWh. As it is well known that liquid droplets formation in the turbine can affect negatively its efficiency and reliability.8 MWel 4  2. This choice puts into evidence the impact of the regenerator on the plant capital cost. the regenerator is not employed. This value is a conservative assumption according to the fuel cost stipulated for the power plant. In the MM and cyclohexane cycles (see Figs. such that it can generate hot water for a heating network. In order to obtain conservative results. As shown in Ref. are also used for the cogenerative cases of the combined plant.

With these on 08/08/2014 Terms of Use: http://asme. 8 ORC capital cost (e/kW) greater than the one of the toluene genset. having set the heat exchanger type. and 25% for other components. according to an empirical correlation. the cost evaluation procedure can be summarized as follows: (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) The turbine cost depends on its number of stages. lubrications systems. Energy and economic performance of the combined plant are summarized in Table 9. and pressure drop subdivision among stages). a kettle-type shell and tube heat exchanger is considered for the subcritical cycle. the system with the highest capital costs is the MM ORC unit. 8. electronic power conditioning systems. this is a conservative hypothesis. the specific capital cost is reduced by 30%. For the evaporator of the ORC unit. ORC Unit. developed. 5 e/kg for siloxanes) of the working medium in the closed loop. It is also worth noting that. all relevant blade geometric parameters. the most expensive component of the cycle is the turbine. The cost of heat exchangers is assumed proportional to the weight of the materials (carbon steel). The shares of the other cost items are: 30% for the heat exchangers. 8. Costs of ORC systems are estimated on the basis of the commercial experience of one of the major companies in the field of ORC manufacturing [35]. effects related to production volume are not taken into account. In the cost estimation procedure. a low cost of natural gas is considered. shown in Fig. analyzing commercial proposals of different manufacturers. doubling the ORC power. using the Craig and Cox loss correlation [41] to predict turbine performance. which represents 35% of the total capital investment. Pumps are selected on the basis of the fluid type. and maximum allowable operating pressure. Fig. the results of which are reported in Fig. [40]. The design of these components is carried out by an in-house tool. 9. which is the best performance with respect to any competitive technology (like large stationary or marine diesel engine) in this power capacity range. in the computation of the ORC LCOE (i) the lifetime of the bottoming unit is shorter than that usually considered for these power plants (15 years versus about 20 years [42]) and (ii) the value of the interest rate (5%) is relatively high [43]. Adding an ORC unit downstream from a MCFC system allows for an increase of power and efficiency of more than 10%. a once through heat exchanger is designed. all the considered configurations well exceed 50% of efficiency. 042309-8 / Vol. represents a fixed percentage (15%) of the total expenditure. The fluid cost is proportional to the mass (about 3 e/kg for hydrocarbons. is evaluated on the basis of the assumptions summarized in Table 8 and considering an O&M cost of 0. 9 ORC LCOE Transactions of the ASME Downloaded From: http://gasturbinespower.asmedigitalcollection. considering the volume occupied by the liquid in the heat exchangers. in order to allow direct coupling with the asynchronous generator. the LCOE reduction (see Fig. while.2 Combined Plant Economy. mass flow rate.asme. These are conservative hypotheses.It is worth noting that. considering a turnkey supply. etc. the preliminary estimate of the axial turbine size is performed according to the mean line design procedure described by Macchi [39] and Lozza et al. wirings. for the supercritical cycles. The cost of other components. even if the estimated power output is the largest of all the considered ORC power plants. because they reduce the abatement of the LCOE achievable by the integration of the two technologies. as piping. 135.3 The number of stages is three (for each considered substance) and the speed of revolution is 3000 rpm. and the temperature difference at the pinch point.. The genset affected by the high specific cost is the one employing cyclohexane as the working fluid. except for the MM cases without the regenerator. The ORC LCOE. 10% for the working fluid. This percentage decreases as the capacity of the ORC system increases. measuring devices. However. increased 20% to take into account the capacity of the pipes. This method permits the optimization of the basic turbine design variables (including mean diameter. The fluid quantity is estimated. APRIL 2013 Fig.5 ce/kWh. It is also important to observe . On the contrary. after cyclohexane. This is due to the high cycle evaporation pressure. mean diameter. 10) achieves In general. Prices are then retrieved from manufacturer’s lists. which is characterized by a cycle pressure 2 The maximum allowable operating pressure of the turbine is calculated as the nominal operating pressure plus a safety margin of 3 bar. and total head. which is one of the key variables influencing the specific cost: as it can be observed in Fig. isentropic degree of reaction of stages. 4. In particular. control system. in the evaluation of the LCOE. because it reduces the abatement of LCOE achievable by integrating the two technologies. the inlet conditions of the streams. considering an overhead of 10% with respect to the nominal condition as an operating margin.

and (iii) economic analysis of the most promising configurations.60 10.69 11. cogen. in order to point out the influence of the ORC power capacity and the cogeneration option on the economy of the combined plant. four different configurations are examined.8 MWel each.34% 10.07 – 0.97 11.42 10.48% –5.56% MM 500 kWel w/o cogen. on 08/08/2014 Terms of Use: http://asme.94 5. which.62 12. 500 kWel w. 1 MWel w.66% –5. even if it reduces heat recovery.51 52. The highest performance is obtained with cyclohexane as the ORC system’s working fluid. Results of the optimization procedure show that the best working fluids for the analyzed application are cycloalkanes. in the best case (with cogeneration and an ORC power size greater than 1 MWel). (MWth) gel (%) LCOE Cyclohexane 500 kWel w/o cogen.96 Toluene 500 kWel w/o cogen. 1 MWel w.27 10.27 53. 5 Conclusions This work investigates the major aspects of the practical feasibility of the integration between a MCFC power plant and an organic Rankine cycle system by assessing the influence of all main parameters affecting the integration. namely. implementing at least two modules of 2.68 – 1.91% –6.83 – 0. impacts positively on the ORC net power. The benefits of the integration are assessed on the basis of the LCOE. since simple considerations demonstrates that regeneration. The adopted method is as follows: (i) selection of the more promising working fluids and of the more profitable plant layouts for the ORC unit.93 53.73% 12.97 – 0. 1 MWel . allows reducing the MCFC LCOE by 8%. the following economic analysis considers these two working fluids as well as cyclohexane. these working media have some favorable features. 10 LCOE reduction obtained by implementing the ORC unit lower improvements.53 10.85 – 1.66 –7. the LCOE of the combined plant is more influenced by the energy production of the ORC unit than by its cost.48 9.24% 12. both from the technical and Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power economical point of view. Even if the simulations of systems using MM and toluene as the working fluids result in a lower power output. 5.39 52. the ORC power plant employing MM as the working fluid approaches the economic result of the ORC systems employing the two hydrocarbons. For each of them.67 – 1.86 10. 1 MWel w/o cogen.82 5. similar results are obtained for toluene and the linear siloxane MM. a lower cycle pressure and turbine VFR.00 53.67 51.32 –6. and it becomes particularly attractive for multi-MW MCFC plants.65 52. especially cyclohexane and cyclopentane.34 10. The best LCOE reduction is obtained in the case of cyclohexane systems.58 10. cogen.34% –7.38% 12. 5.60 –7.53 10. This is due to the fact that ORC LCOEs (see Fig. Using conservative assumptions with commercial data provided by experienced companies in the fields of FC and ORC systems.89% 11.35 12. Fig. 135 / 042309-9 Downloaded From: http://gasturbinespower.06 12. which reduce the capital costs of the ORC unit. For each selected substance. (ii) optimization of thermodynamics parameters of the heat recovery system in order to maximize the electricity production of the combined plant.89 11.24 52.82 52. after a preliminary screening of the organic substance suitable for high-temperature ORC systems.29 52. In particular.99 6. ten candidate fluids are selected. 500 kWel w. The ORC layout considered in the optimization procedure includes a regenerator. 1 MWel w/o cogen. the quite high additional costs arising from the implementation of the regenerator are more than offset by the increase in electricity production.01 51.49 –6.96 11.asme.27% –7.61 10. The study results show that the addition of an ORC unit to the MCFC system increases the electrical efficiency of the FC plant from 47% to more than 53%.59% –6. while the optimization of the cycle parameters (cycle maximum temperature and evaporation pressure) is obtained by an optimization algorithm implemented in an external programming environment.39 10.00 12. cogen. where both efficiency and LCOE reach their best values.21% –4. cogen. cogen. detailed simulations of the ORC are performed using a commercial process modeling tool. 500 kWel w. For this reason. it is demonstrated that this efficiency enhancement allows reducing the LCOE by a value of about 6%–8%. cogen.75 52. 9) represent about 20% of the standalone MCFC LCOE. in the MM case.Table 9 Energy and economic performance of the integrated plant for the different analyzed configurations Dgela (%) Wel (MWel) Qcogen. despite the highest capital cost of the ORC genset. 5. The economic feasibility of the combined plant is also demonstrated for relatively smaller capacity (500 kWel) of the ORC unit.77 13.73 10.35 13. These performance improvements can be achieved.asmedigitalcollection.39 11. since the specific cost of the bottoming unit is significantly lower than that of the MCFC system. Vol.49 10.65% 9. implementing APRIL 2013. Due to the cogeneration and the regenerative configuration.75% Analyzed cases a DLCOE* (%) With reference to the standalone MCFC plant. while the ORC electricity production is about 9% of the total electricity production. In fact. For this reason.53% –5. approximately half of those related to the energy performance of the combined plant. 1 MWel w/o cogen.

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Nomenclature Acronyms BOL ¼ CAPEX ¼ EOL ¼ EOS ¼ FC ¼ GWP ¼ HFC ¼ LCOE ¼ LHV ¼ MCFC ¼ MW ¼ ODP ¼ ORC ¼ PHE ¼ REG ¼ REOS ¼ VFR ¼ beginning of life of MCFC stack capital expenditure end of life of MCFC stack equation of state fuel cell global warming potential hydrofluorocarbons levelized cost of electricity low heating value molten carbonate fuel cell molecular weight ozone depletion potential organic Rankine cycle primary heat exchanger regenerator reference equation of state volume flow ratio Symbols PC ¼ Q¼ Tb ¼ TC ¼ Tcond ¼ Tstab ¼ V¼ W¼ s¼ critical pressure heat power boiling temperature critical temperature condensing temperature thermal stability threshold of the organic fluid volume flow electrical power entropy Subscripts el ¼ in ¼ out ¼ p. C. L. private communication. [18] Havens. P. Transactions of the ASME Downloaded From: http://gasturbinespower. A. E. NV.. and Bove.. 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