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Responding to Climate Change 2011

Home | Spotlight on Energy | Turboden Creating energy in unexpected places

Creating energy in unexpected places


Turboden diagram - click to enlarge

Turboden explains how their turbogenerators extract heat from unlikely sources to produce electricity. A downfall of renewable energy is that its production does not tend to generate a huge amount of surplus heat for use elsewhere. However, turbogenerators using the Organic Rankine Cycle technology can extract heat from low-temperature heat sources, and then convert it to energy for local use.

Based on the Rankine cycle, which is a closed circuit vapour cycle, the Organic Rankine Cycle uses a heated chemical, such as freon, butane or propane, instead of purely steam. This chemical mix operates at a low boiling point and drives the turbine within the generator to create electricity. The system runs efficiently on low temperature heat sources, such as those given off within renewable energy processes, at a significant reduction of normal costs.

The systems are entirely enclosed, meaning they produce zero emissions, and can be powered with a variety of sources including geothermal, biomass, solar thermal power and industrial waste heat. Typical renewable energy process used are biomass, geothermal and solar thermal. The ORC system supplies a superior electric performance (up to 10MW) and several advantages (see below).

How it works:

The turbogenerator uses high-temperature thermal oil to pre-heat and vaporise a suitable organic (chemical) working fluid within its evaporator. The vapour powers the turbine, which is directly coupled to the electric generator through an elastic coupling. The exhaust vapour flows through the regenerator where it heats the organic liquid and is then condensed. The organic working fluid is respectively pumped into the regenerator and evaporator, thus completing the sequence of operations in the closed-loop circuit.

Turboden is a leading European company in development, production and maintenance of turbogenerators using technology based on the Organic Rankine Cycle.

The company was founded in 1980 in Milan by Managing Director Mario Gaia, originally a Professor from the Politecnico di Milano. Mario Gaia’s university connections have always ensured the recruitment of highly qualified R&D personnel in the search for ORC technical solutions.

In 2009, Turboden became part of Pratt & Whitney (UTC Corp.), a worldwide leader in development, production and service for aero engines, aerospace drive systems and heavy duty gas turbines.

In the same year, the national association, ANEST, was created by Turboden and other Italian partners, ANEST promotes using CSP (Concentrating Solar Power) to generate heat and electrical power.

Technical advantages
  1. High cycle efficiency

  2. Up to 90% turbine efficiency

  3. Low mechanical stress

  4. Low turbine RPM

  5. No erosion of blades

  6. Long life

  7. Low O&M requirements: about 3-5 hours/week

Operational advantages

  1. Simple start-stop procedures

  2. Automatic and continuous operation

  3. No operator attendance needed

  4. Quiet operation

  5. High availability

  6. Partial load operation down to 10% of nominal power

  7. High efficiency event at partial load

Turboden logo


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