A consideration of cycle selection for meso-scale distributed solar-thermal power
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Thermodynamic and thermoeconomic aspects of 12.5 kW residential solar-thermal power generating systems suitable for distributed, decentralized power generation paradigm are presented in this thesis. The design of a meso-scale power system greatly differs from centralized power generation. As a result, this thesis provides guidance in the selection of the power cycle and operating parameters suitable for meso-scale power generation. Development of standard thermodynamic power cycle computer simulations provides means for evaluation of the feasibility of meso-scale solar-thermal power generation. The thermodynamic power cycles considered in this study are the Rankine cycle, the organic Rankine cycle with toluene, R123, and ethylbenzene as working fluids, the Kalina cycle, and the Maloney-Robertson cycle. From a strictly thermodynamic perspective, the cycles are evaluated based on first- and second-law efficiencies. Additionally, the study includes economic feasibility through thermoeconomic characterization that encompasses a meso-scale cost model for solar-thermal power generation systems. Key results from this study indicate that a R123 organic Rankine cycle is the most cost-effective cycle implementation for operating conditions in which the maximum temperature is limited below 240C. For temperatures greater than 240C and less than 375C, the toluene and ethylbenzne organic Rankine cycles outperform the other cycles. The highest first law efficiency of 28% of the Kalina cycle exceeds all other cycles at temperatures between 375C and 500C. However, when considering cycle cost and overall feasibility, including thermodynamic and thermoeconomic performance, the Maloney-Robertson and Kalina cycles have poor performance on a cost-to-efficiency basis.