Newton Fund: An ORC power plant integrated with thermal energy storage to utilise renewable heat sources for distributed H&P

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Engineering

Abstract

China, as the largest energy consumer, relies heavily on power generation from fossil fuels such as coal, leading to serious air pollution issues. It is therefore crucial for China to transit towards cleaner energy supply. Solar energy resources are abundant in China, particularly in the poorest western provinces, and renewable power generation can potentially play a vital role in energy supply for China in the future. On the other hand, although China became the second biggest economy in the world, it still remains a developing country and its per capita income is ranked as NO. 84 in the world. The exploitation of the abundant renewable energy resources in the underdeveloped regions in China can also help to boost local economy and tackle poverty.

This project aims to develop a heat storage enhanced ORC power technology to utilise renewable heat sources (e.g. solar energy) for localised power and heat supply. ORC power generation technology is believed to be the most promising technology for power generation from low temperature heat sources. Unlike solar PV panels converting sun light into electricity, ORC power plants convert solar thermal energy to power. Integrated with heat storage, solar thermal ORC systems can overcome the intermittency of sun light and provide more stable power generation and heat supply. By increasing the running time of the ORC system, the payback also increases making this technology more affordable as compared to conventional, fossil based sources of energy. Furthermore, their reliability is also increased as the heat input and output are buffered and regulated. Apart from its application to solar energy, such technology is also attractive for utilising geothermal energy or waste heat sources. The wide installation of the developed system will make contribution to the decarbonisation of the economy China, and ultimately reduce the air pollution improve the urban populations' life quality.

The proposed research and development will address several challenges that hinders the commercialisation of these technologies. On the Chinese side, Beijing University of Technology (BJUT) will develop high efficiency single screw expander technology for this project, and contribute to the development of high temperature heat storage technology using molten salts. The business partner, China Investment Yixing Red Sun Solar Energy Technology Company(CIYR), will manufacture the expanders and develop the solar powered technology demonstrator. On the UK side, Sunamp will develop and provide medium to high temperature heat storage technology using phase changer materials. The University of Glasgow (UOG) team, building upon their two on-going EPSRC projects on small scale ORC technologies, will focus on the design of the integrated system, the control strategy, and power electronic systems for the connection with grid. The four project partners, having expertise of different subsystems of this integrated technology, form a uniquely strong consortium to address these challenges and to bring the TRL of the proposed technology towards the commercialisation stage.

Planned Impact

The outcomes of this project will deliver a wide range of social, economic, and environmental benefits to Chinese population, and people living in other underdeveloped regions across the world. The benefits are identified and described as follows, which justify the eligibility of Official Development Assistance (ODA) criteria for this project.

1) Providing electricity for off-grid population.
There are still around 2 million people living the remote rural areas of China without access to electricity. Beyond China, it is estimated that around 1.7 billion people currently live off-grid worldwide. Once the developed system is widely installed in these off-grid areas, it can utilise the renewable energy sources in these areas to provide electricity locally.

2) Improve people's quality of life in China's poorest regions.
The access to electricity will allow people in these poor regions to use mobile phones, televisions, and radios, and other appliances, improving their life quality. This can provide those people with more opportunities of education and access to knowledge through internet. In these west regions of China, it is also very cold in winter, and heating is another challenge that is yet to be addressed. The developed technology can supply both electricity and heat. In addition, it is also attractive for those west regions having access to the grid, because it can also provide heat in winter. This can improve the quality of life for communities living these areas.

3) Boost economy and reducing poverty in China's poorest regions
Manufacturing of the developed power plants will be carried out in China, either through licences or joint ventures. This will allow the final products to be affordable, and will be beneficial for the Chinese companies involved in their manufacturing and distribution, and the whole supply chain. This can benefit a wide range of manufacturing industrial sectors in China. Using the developed technology, the exploitation of the abundant solar and geothermal energy in the poorest western regions can boost the local economic growth, and thus reduce poverty.
 
Description Positive displacement expanders are mostly used for such small-scale applications. However, their built-in expansion ratios are often smaller than the expansion ratio required for maximum utilisation of heat sources leading to under expansion and consequently higher enthalpy at the outlet of the expander, and ultimately resulting a lower thermal efficiency. In order to overcome this issue, one possible solution is to introduce an internal heat exchanger (i.e., the so-called regenerator) to recover the enthalpy exiting the expander and use it to pre-heat the liquid working fluid before it enters the evaporator, increasing the cycle efficiency.
Exploitation Route This finding will help industrial companies of small scale ORC power plants to improve their systems thermal efficiency.
Sectors Energy

 
Description Modelling and Optimisation of Integrated Urban Energy Systems for both Heating and Power
Amount £30,000 (GBP)
Organisation Energy Technology Partnership (ETP) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2018 
End 08/2021
 
Description Modelling and Optimisation of Integrated Urban Energy Systems for both Heating and Power
Amount £30,000 (GBP)
Organisation Scottish Power Ltd 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2018 
End 08/2021
 
Title Numerical simulations tool for designing the ORC systems or Heat pumps 
Description A numerical model has been developed to simulate and design the proposed Therma-Pump. This can be used to design the ORC power plants or heat pump systems as well. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This offers the first model of this kind to design such an integrated system. 
 
Description Beijing University of Technology 
Organisation Beijing University of Technology
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provide the design of ORC power plant and the control and power electronic system.
Collaborator Contribution Develop and provide a 5 kW single screw expander.
Impact Collaborate on the develop of cost-effective ORC power generation technology.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration with Huazhong University of Science and Technology 
Organisation Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Established collaboration with Huazhong University of Science and Technology (China), led to a successful workshop/network grant by British Council and NSFC of China (Ref: 2018-RLWK10-10298) Contribution: expertise in heating and cooling technologies
Collaborator Contribution expertise in cooling technologies
Impact We will organise a joint China-UK worksho for heating and cooling technologies.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Collaboration with Prof. Hua Tian and Gequn Shu in Tianjin University, China 
Organisation Tianjin University
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Established collaboration with Prof. Hua Tian and Gequn Shu in Tianjin University in the area of super-critical CO2 power generation technologies. Our contribution: expertise of PIV experimental testing by Dr Zhibin Yu and CFD design expertise by Prof. Li He
Collaborator Contribution Their expertise of supercritical CO2 power plants
Impact Established collaboration with Tianjin University and submitted a China-UK Low Carbon Manufacture grant application in 2018. It received very high review scores but narrowly missed due to the very limited funds available of this Call. We will continue to collaborate in this area.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Collaboration with Scottish power 
Organisation Scottish Power Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Contribute to the project "Modelling and Optimisation of Integrated Urban Energy Systems for both Heating and Power" in the area of heating networks, including modelling and optimisation.
Collaborator Contribution Contribute to the project "Modelling and Optimisation of Integrated Urban Energy Systems for both Heating and Power" in the area of smart grid, including modelling and optimisation.
Impact We submitted a joint application for a PhD studentship to Energy Technology Partnership in 2017 and was funded.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration with Xian Jiaotong University 
Organisation Xi'an Jiaotong University
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Established collaboration with Dr Mingjia Li in Xi'an Jiaotong University and submitted a China-UK Low Carbon Manufacture grant application in 2018. my contribution: expertise of PIV measurement and thermodynamics
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in thermodynamics and heat transfer
Impact Submitted a China-UK Low Carbon Manufacture grant application in 2018.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Sunamp 
Organisation Sunamp Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Test the heat batteries using our ORC system.
Collaborator Contribution Provide new heat batteries.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration. Sunamp develops new heat batteries, and we develop ORC power generation technology.
Start Year 2017
 
Description A talk at China-UK Workshop on Efficient Energy Utilisation 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The China-UK workshop on efficient energy utilisation bring together researchers and industrialists working on energy efficiency in both UK and China. Around 40-50 people attended this event. I gave a talk "A novel heat pump based on combined thermodynamic cycle".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Chair and and give a talk at the "Decarbonising Heat" session of Energy Innovation Emporium Conference 31st May 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This conference brings together industry, the public sector and academia to discuss innovation for the Energy Strategy. Academia and businesses will present their research expertise & needs, from which the conference will identify avenues of innovation and cooperation that will support the Scottish Government's ambitions around carbon reduction. As the coordinator of the Heat Energy Theme of ETP, I and the BDM and other colleagues organised a session on the topic of "Decarbonise Heat", and it attached around 100 participants. I chaired the session and delivered the open talk. Several other speakers from industry sector and business sector and Scottish government energy team gave talks and participated the debate and panel discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.etp-scotland.ac.uk/NewsandEvents/Events/ETPEmporiumEvent2017.aspx
 
Description Chair/co-organise the workshop - Seasonal Thermal Storage for Scotland 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Seasonal Thermal Storage (STS) projects and technologies are allowing regions to decarbonise their heating by allowing heat to be collected during the summer, stored, and then used in the winter when peak heat demand occurs. STS projects are successfully up and running in several countries but not yet in Scotland.

This event aims to introduce the concept of STS, how it can add value to local and national energy systems, and the technologies involved. We will hear from experts who have been delivering STS projects in North West Europe, and who have been appraising the potential of STS to best be integrated into energy systems in Scotland.

The event will be useful for anyone from both the public and private sector who are in an energy planning, financing, or research role and would like to learn more about energy storage options beyond electrical batteries, and how alternative storage forms can provide key services to local and national energy systems.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Engagement with UK Committee on Climate Change 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Round table meeting organised by ETP to engage with with Chris Stark, CEO of the UK Committee on Climate Change, 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018