The present work addresses the thermodynamic optimization of small binary-cycle geothermal power plants. The optimization process and entropy generation minimization analysis were performed to minimize the overall exergy loss of the power plant, and the irreversibilities associated with heat transfer and fluid friction caused by the system components. The effect of the geothermal resource temperature to impact on the cycle power output was studied, and it was found that the maximum cycle power output increases exponentially with the geothermal resource temperature. In addition, an optimal turbine inlet temperature was determined, and observed to increase almost linearly with the increase in the geothermal heat source. Furthermore, a coaxial geothermal heat exchanger was modeled and sized for minimum pumping power and maximum extracted heat energy. The geofluid circulation flow rate was also optimized, subject to a nearly linear increase in geothermal gradient. In both limits of the fully turbulent and laminar fully-developed flows, a nearly identical diameter ratio of the coaxial pipes was determined irrespective of the flow regime, whereas the optimal geofluid mass flow rate increased exponentially with the Reynolds number. SeveORCs were observed to yield maximum cycle power output. The addition of an IHE and/or an Oral organic Rankine Cycles were also considered as part of the study. The basic types of the FOH improved significantly the effectiveness of the conversion of the available geothermal energy into useful work, and increased the thermal efficiency of the geothermal power plant. Therefore, the regenerative ORCs were preferred for high-grade geothermal heat. In addition, a performance analysis of several organic fluids was conducted under saturation temperature and subcritical pressure operating conditions of the turbine. Organic fluids with higher boiling point temperature, such as n-pentane, were recommended for the basic type of ORCs, whereas those with lower vapour specific heat capacity, such as butane, were more suitable for the regenerative ORCs.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2013.