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MAY – 2018
Topic: Page No:

1. Introduction 3

2. Rankine cycle & its features 4-7

2.1.Components associated with Rankine cycle 4-5
2.2.Basic Processes of Rankine Cycle 5
2.3.Thermal Efficiency of Rankine Cycle 6
2.4.Mean Temperature of Heat Addition 6-7

3. Methodology for Enhancement of Mean 8-15

Temperature of Heat Addition
3.1.Increasing Steam Turbine Inlet Temperature 8
3.2.Increasing Boiler Pressure 8-9
3.3.Reheating 9-11
3.4.Regeneration 11-15
3.4.1. Feedwater Heaters 12-15
a. Open Feedwater Heater 12-13
b. Closed Feedwater Heater 13-14
c. Multi-Stage Regeneration 14-15

4. Conclusion 16
5. References 17

1. Introduction
A thermodynamic cycle producing net amount of work as output is called power
cycle. The vapour power cycle is a cycle which alternatively vaporizes and condenses.
Rankine cycle is the standard thermodynamic cycle in general use for electric power
generation and this cycle is a heat engine with a vapour power cycle. The common working
fluid is water which is converted to steam. Thermodynamically, it is true that no heat engine
can be more efficient than a reversible heat engine working between two fixed temperature
limits. The most efficient cycle operating between a source temperature TH and the sink
temperature L is the Carnot vapour power cycle and its thermal efficiency is given by

Carnot = 1-L / TH

Now increased temperatures cause more difficulty with the materials of the plant components
than increased pressure. Moreover, irreversibility of Carnot cycle cannot be approximated in
actual practice. Due to this, Rankine cycle, which operates between two constant pressures
rather than two constant temperatures, is universally adopted for steam power plants. Carnot
cycle is considered to be the most efficient cycle, but for steam power plants it has several
impracticalities associated with this cycle such as steam is not fully condensed because
condensation stops in between, as a result compressor has to handle water along with steam
and so it requires more power which finally results in poor plant efficiency. These
deficiencies all are eliminated in Rankine cycle. The Rankine cycle uses complete
condensation of steam and only liquid water is pumped back to boiler. Actually, Rankine
cycle requires very less pumping work (back work). Therefore, it has practically higher
efficiency than that of Carnot vapour power cycle. Thermal efficiency of Rankine cycle can
be improved by increasing the mean temperature of heat addition and the mean temperature
of heat addition can be increasing by using reheat, superheat and regeneration. In a word, a
suitable model for vapour power cycles is the Rankine cycle.

2. Rankine cycle & its features

Rankine cycle has less practical difficulties and it is found to be more economical. For
the steam boiler, this would be a reversible constant pressure heating process of water to form
steam, for the turbine the ideal process would be a reversible adiabatic expansion of steam,
for the condenser it would be a reversible constant pressure heat rejection as the steam
condenses till it becomes saturated liquid, and for the pump, the ideal process would be the
reversible adiabatic compression of this liquid ending at the initial pressure. When all these
four processes are ideal, the cycle is an ideal cycle, called a Rankine cycle.

2.1 Components associated with Rankine cycle

The four basic components of a vapour power plant are shown in Fig.1. Each
component in the cycle is regarded as a control volume, operating at steady state.

Turbine: The vapour leaving the boiler enters the turbine, where it expands isentropically to
the condenser pressure at the state 2. The work produced by the turbine is rotary (shaft) work
and is used to drive an electric generator.

Condenser: The condenser is attached at the exit of the turbine. The vapour leaving the
turbine is wet vapour and it is condensed completely in the condenser to the state 3, by giving
its latent heat to some other cooling fluid like water.

Fig.1: Basic Components of Rankine Cycle

Pump: The liquid condensate leaving the condenser at the state 3 is pumped to the operating
pressure of the boiler. The pump operation is considered isentropic.

Boiler: The heat is supplied to the working fluid (feed water) in the boiler (or steam
generator) and thus vapour is generated. The vapor leaving the boiler is saturated, depending
upon the amount of heat supplied in the boiler.

2.2. Basic Processes of Rankine Cycle

Fig.2 shows the ideal Rankine cycle on T-s coordinates. The Rankine cycle consists
of the following four processes:-

Process 1-2: Isentropic compression of the working fluid in the pump to the boiler pressure
at the state 2(shown in Fig2) in the compressed liquid region.
Process 2-3: Heat addition of the working fluid at constant pressure in the boiler from
state 2 to 5 (shown in Fig2).
Process 3-4: Isentropic expansion of the working fluid in the turbine from boiler pressure to
condenser pressure.
Process 4-1: Heat rejection from the working fluid at constant pressure in the condenser
till the fluid reaches the saturated liquid state 1 (shown in Fig.2).

Fig.2: Basic Processes of Rankine Cycle

2.3. Thermal Efficiency of Rankine Cycle:
For purposes of analysis the Rankine cycle is assumed to be carried out in a steady
flow operation. Applying the steady flow energy equation to each of the processes on the
basis of unit mass of fluid, and neglecting changes in kinetic and potential energy, the work
and heat quantities can be:
δq – δw = dh

For process 2-3, δw = 0 (heat addition process),

(δq)boiler = (dh)boiler = (h3 - h2)

For process 3-4; δq = 0 (adiabatic process),

(δw)turbine = -(dh)turbine = (h3 – h4)
(δq)cond = (h1 – h4)
(δw)pump = (h1 - h2)
(δw)net = (δw)turbine + (δw)pump = (h3 – h4) - (h2 – h1)
Now, Thermal efficiency,
𝐍𝐞𝐭 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐤 (𝐡𝟑 – 𝐡𝟒) − (𝐡𝟐 – 𝐡𝟏) (𝐡𝟑 – 𝐡𝟒)
ηrankine = = 
𝐇𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐒𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐝 (𝐡𝟑 − 𝐡𝟐) (𝐡𝟑 − 𝐡𝟐)

The pump work is negligible, because specific volume of water is very small.

One of the significant advantages of Rankine cycle is that the pump power is usually
quite small compared with turbine power. This is indicated by work-ratio, which is large
compared with one of the Rankine cycle. As a result, the pumping power is neglected in
approximating the Rankine cycle net power output. It is assumed that the liquid at a pump
entrance is saturated liquid because the condensate temperature never reaches below exit
cooling water temperature. This is usually the case for power plant feed-eater pumps.

2.4. Mean Temperature of Heat Addition:

In accordance with the second law of thermodynamic, the Rankine cycle efficiency
must be less than Carnot engine operating between the same temperature extremes. As with
the Carnot-cycle efficiency, Rankine cycle efficiency improves when the average heat-
addition temperature increases and the heat-rejection temperature decreases.

Fig.3. Mean temperature of heat addition
If Tm is the mean temperature of heat addition as shown in the above figure (Fig.3), so that
the area under curve 2-3 is equal to area under curve 5-6, then heat added.
If Q1 = heat absorbed = (h3 - h2) = Tm(s3 – s2),

Q2 = heat rejected = (h4 – h1) = Tmin(s3 – s2),

ηrankine = 1 – Q2 / Q1 = 1 – Tmin/Tm

Among the parameters Tmin and Tm, Tm is the more important parameter to vary thermal
efficiency, since Tmin can only be reduced to environmental temperature, not below that.

3. Methodology for Enhancement of Mean Temperature of Heat Addition

Enhancement of Mean Temperature of Heat Addition can be done by the following


3.1. Increasing Steam Turbine Inlet Temperature:

Superheating of steam increases the mean temperature of heat addition. The effect of
superheated steam on the performance of the Rankine cycle is shown in Fig.4. The increase
in superheat is shown by the line 3-3’. The hatched area 3-3’-4’-4-3 represents an increase in
net work done during the cycle. The area under curve 1-1’ represents increase in the heat
input. Thus, both the net work done and heat transfer increase as a result of superheating the
steam to higher temperature. Therefore, superheating begets higher cycle efficiency. It is
observed that the specific steam consumption decreases as steam is superheated.
Superheating of steam to higher temperature is desirable, because the moisture content of
steam leaving the turbine decreases as indicated by the state 2’. However, the
metallurgical considerations restrict the superheating of steam to a very high temperature.

Fig.4: Effect of Increasing Steam Turbine Inlet Temperature

3.2. Increasing Boiler Pressure:

By increasing the boiler pressure, the mean temperature of the heat addition increases,
and thus raises the thermal efficiency of the cycle. By keeping the maximum temperature and
condenser pressure constant it boiler pressure increases, the heat rejection decreases by an
area 3’-4’-4-3-3’ (Fig.5). The net work done by the cycle remains almost same, thus, the
Rankine cycle efficiency increases, with an increase in maximum pressure. Actually, the
operating conditions of the condenser remain unchanged and there is no drastic gain in the
work output. Specific steam consumption decreases first and then increases after reaching a
minimum level at 160 bar.

Fig.5: Effect of increase in boiler pressure

Negative impacts of this methodology are:

1. Magnitude of pump work increases.

2. Reduction of dryness fraction of steam at the exhaust of the turbine may create the
chances of pitting effect of the turbine at the last stage.

But, compared to temperature increase, this methodology is widely used in power industry,
with some modifications, to combat the negative impacts as much as possible.

3.3. Reheating:

Actually, the Rankine cycle has been modified to produce more work output by
introducing two stage steam turbines, using intermediate heating. Reheating also lowers the
moisture load of the steam at the turbine exit. If the steam expands completely in a single
stage then steam coming out the turbine is very wet. The wet steam carries suspended
moisture particles, which are heavier than the vapour particle, thus deposited on the blades
and causing its erosion. In order to increase the life of turbine blades, it is necessary to keep
the steam dry during its expansion. It is done by allowing the steam to expand to an
intermediate pressure in a high-pressure turbine, and then taking it out and sending back to
the boiler, where it is reheated at constant pressure, until it reaches the inlet temperature of
the first stage as shown in Fig.6. This process is called reheating during which heat is added
to the steam. The reheated steam then further expands in the next stage of the turbine. Due to
reheating, the work output of the turbine increases, thus improving the thermal efficiency.
The reheat cycle is designed to take advantage of higher boiler pressure by eliminating the
problem of excessive moisture content in the exhaust steam. In a reheat Rankine cycle; the
steam is expanded in a number of stages. After each stage of expansion, the steam is reheated
in the boiler. Then, it expands in the next stage of turbine and is finally exhausted to the

Also, a low reheat pressure may bring down mean temperature of heat addition and hence,
cycle efficiency. Again, a high reheat pressure increases the moisture content at turbine
exhaust. So, optimization of reheat pressure is necessary. The optimum reheat pressure for
most of the modern power plants is about 0.2 to 0.25 of the initial steam pressure.

Fig.6: Schematic diagram of a power plant with reheating

T-s diagram of reheat Rankine cycle (Fig.7) shows some increase in the area which is
attained because of the introduction of the reheating steam. This results in low pressure
turbine expansion work. Thus, reheat increases work output because of low pressure turbine
expansion work. Indeed, the net work of the reheat cycle is the algebraic sum of the work
of the two turbines and the pump work and the total heat addition is the sum of the total
heat added in the feed-water and reheat passes through boiler.

In actual, when steam expands through the turbine, a considerable friction is always
involved when steam glides over the blades. This friction resists the flow of steam. The
isentropic enthalpy drop is not fully converted into kinetic energy but some of its part
is utilized to overcome the frictional resistances. Thus, the kinetic energy produced is
less than that corresponding to theoretical isentropic enthalpy drop. Further, this friction
is converted into heat consequently the steam becomes dry and saturated, even superheated.
The frictional heating causes an increase in entropy and hence actual entropy drop is always
less than the isentropic enthalpy drop. The ratio of cumulative isentropic enthalpy drop to
isentropic enthalpy drop from initial pressure to final pressure is called reheat factor.

Fig.7: Reheating Process on T-S Diagram

3.4. Regeneration:

Another way of increasing the thermal efficiency of Rankine cycle is ‘regeneration’.

In a simple Rankine cycle the condensate accumulated in the condenser is pumped to the
boiler by BFW (boiler feed water) pump where it is heated to produce saturated steam and
then to superheated steam. Now the feed-water at the pump outlet is heated in a feed-water
pre-heater at a relatively low temperature (much lower than source temperature). This lowers
the average heat addition temperature and thus, lowers the overall cycle efficiency than that
of Carnot vapour cycle. To redress this problem, the process of regeneration is resorted. The
feed-water from the pump exit is pre-heated by the bleed steam (extraction steam) from the
turbine at various points. The device where the feed-water is heated by regeneration is called
regenerator or a ‘feed-water heater’. Fig.8 shows an ideal regeneration process on T-S
Fig.8: Ideal Regeneration Process on T-S diagram

In actual practice, advantage of regenerative heating principle is used by extracting a part

of the steam from turbine at a certain stage of the expansion and it is used for heating of
feed-water in separate feed-water heaters. The process of draining steam from the turbine at
certain point during its expansion and using this steam for heating the feed-water supplied to
the boiler is known as ‘bleeding’. The number of feed-water heaters to be inducted into the
circuit is dictated by the turbine throttle conditions which fix the most advantageous
condensate heating temperature.

3.4.1 Feedwater Heaters:

a. Open Feedwater Heater:

The open feed water heater is essentially a direct contact heater which is nothing but a
mixing chamber where the bleed steam is blown through the BFW exiting the feed-water
pump. Each open feed water heater requires a pump to handle the feed-water.

A regenerative cycle having a single stage of feed water (Fig.9) heating is shown next
page. Steam enters the turbine at state 5. After expansion to state 6, part of this steam is
extracted and supplied to the feed water heater while the remainder continues to expand to
state 7. Other processes are as shown above. The above T-s diagram is not the exact one,
(because the mass flow rate is changing at all the state points) but, it simply shows
various states of the working fluid.
Fig.9 (a) & (b): Open feed water heater cycle

Let m1 = mass of steam extracted at state 6 then, heat balance for heater gives,

m1h6 + (1 - m) h2 = h3

m1 = (h3-h2) / (h6-h1)

The amount is so adjusted that the liquid leaving the feed water heater at state 3 is saturated.

Thermal Efficiency:

Turbine work = (h5 – h6) = (1 – m1)(h6 – h7)

Heat supplied = (h5 – h4) ≈ (h5 - h3)

Therefore, ηth = [(h5-h7)-m1(h6-h7)]/[h5-h3]

b. Closed Feedwater Heater:

The closed feed water heater (CFWH) is basically a shell-and-tube heat exchanger
that heats up the BFW by the bleed steam flowing counter currently in the tube side. The two
streams (extracted steam and feed water) now can be at different pressures, since they do not
mix. CFWH do not require a separate feed pump for each heater.

Regeneration here (Fig.10) is single stage, while turbine is of two stages. The extracted steam
of mass m1 kg is completely condensed in the heater and this liquid is first passed through a
drain cooler and then enters the condenser where it mixes with the main condensate of mass
(1-m1) kg. This liquid from the condenser is first heated from state 2 to state x in the drain

cooler and then from state x to state 3 in heater. If we assume perfect heat exchange in water
heater, then the feed water as well as the condensate of the extracted steam will leave the feed
water heater at state 3. Similarly in the drain cooler, the liquid coming from heater will get
cooled to the temperature t2 of the condensate from the pump.

Fig.10 (a) & (b): Closed feed water heater cycle

Heat balance for drain cooler gives,

hx = m1(h3-h2) + h2

Heat balance for feed heater gives,

m1 = (h3-h2)/(h6-h2) ≈(h3-h1)/(h6-h1)

Therefore, ηth = [(h5-h7)-m1(h6-h7)]/(h5-h3) (neglecting pump work)

c. Multi-Stage Regenerative Cycle:

Fig.11 shows an arrangement in which there are 3 stages of feed water heating
employing closed heaters. Steam to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd heaters is supplied at states 11, 12
and 13 respectively. The feed water leaving each heater is at the saturation temperature
corresponding to the pressure of bled steam supplied to that heater. The corresponding T-s
diagram for the cycle is also shown.

Fig.11 (a): Three stage regenerative cycle

Fig.11 (b): Corresponding T-S Diagram

Actually, the main function of feed-water heater is to raise the temperature of the
feed-water by means of bled steam before the feed water is supplied to the boiler. The
temperature of feed-water leaving a particular heater is always less than the saturation
temperature at the steam extraction pressure, the difference being known as ‘terminal
temperature difference’ (TTD). TTD=saturation temperature of extracted steam -outlet feed
water temperature.TTD should be as low as possible because if TTD is reduced, more
work could be got from the bled-steam because it could be expanded further down the turbine
and thus, getting maximum thermal efficiency as well.

4. Conclusion

The technological investigations and analysis of various important characters

affecting the thermal power plant’s overall efficiency and other related factors responsible for
deviation from ideal working of Rankine cycle have been discussed. The efficiency of simple
Rankine cycle is improved by using intermediate reheat cycle, enabling improved thermal
conditions of the working fluid. However, it cannot reach the thermal conditions as in the
case of the Carnot cycle where heat addition and heat rejection occurs at a specified
temperature range. The regeneration is vital to improve the efficiency as it uses the sensible
heat of exhaust steam for the preheating of feed water. Inclusion of FWH also introduces an
additional pressure level into the Rankine cycle as seen in the T-s diagram. Hence, the
extraction pressure level is another parameter under the control of designer. The control of
steam condenser pressure i.e. condenser vacuum and supply of condenser tube cooling water
is another parameter which affects the steam thermal power plant efficiency.


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