The Economic Optimization of Renewable Energy

Global warming has been a very popular topic these days. With up-trend of clean technology and realization that strict climate policy should be implemented, demand of renewable energy sky-rocketed as conservative plants popularity falls. Number of coal power plants have significantly dropped since its peak era, being known as the largest pollutant contributor as it produces nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide, the technology is valued less due to its impact on nature. Renewable energy comes from many sources: hydropower, wind power, geothermal energy, bio energy and many more. The ability to replenish and having no limit in usage and applications make renewable energy implementations seems attractive. Aside from that, they also produce low emission, sounds like a win-win solution for everyone. Theoretically, with the usage of renewable energy, human-kind should be able to meet their energy need with minimal environmental damage. With growth rate ranging from 10% to 60% annually, renewable energy are getting cheaper through the technology improvements as well as market competition. In the end, the main goal is still to generate profit, though these days taking impact on nature into the equation is just as important. Since the technology is relatively new, capital cost still considerable higher compared to some cases with more traditional (–and naturally harmful) implementations. So the question is: how to maximize the economic potential of a renewable energy power generation plant?

The Economic Optimization of Renewable Energy

Living up to the maximum potential of any power generation plant starts in the design process. Few examples for solar power plant: designers should take into consideration type and quality of panels, it’s important to see the economic-efficiency tradeoff before jumping into investment; looking into the power conversion is also one of the most important steps, one should take into consideration that it would be worthless to produce more energy than the capacity that are able to be transferred and put to use, though too low energy generation would mean less gross income.

Another example, for a geothermal power plant, many studies have shown that boundary conditions on each components play a big role in determining the plant’s capacity and efficiency. High efficiency is definitely desired to optimize the potential of a power plant and minimized the energy loss. Though, should also be compared to the economic sacrifice; regardless of how good the technology is, if it doesn’t make any economic profit, it would not make sense for one to invest in such technology. Low capital cost but high operating expenses would hurt the economic feasibility in the long run, whereas high capital cost and low operating expense could still be risky since that would mean a higher lump sum of investment upfront, which might or may not breakeven nor profitable depending on the fluctuation of energy market.

Modern technology allows investors and the engineering team to make this prediction based on models developed by the experts. SoftInWay just recently launched our economic module, check out AxCYCLE to optimize your power plant!

Reference:

[1] Optimal design of geothermal power plants 

[2] Strategies in tower solar power plant optimization

Variable Speed Compressor for HVAC and Refrigeration.

Even though energy consumption for HVAC and refrigeration system is considerably smaller than most technology applications, energy savings is still desired for many reasons: cleaner technology, saving cost, fuel economy and many more. Improvements in insulation, compressor efficiency and optimization of the cycle can be implemented to achieve better performance. Installation of variable speed drives is one way to optimize the potential of HVAC system.

Refrigeration

Although has been implemented to various HVAC components, variable-speed drive is considerably still one of the “newer” advancements in the compressor industry. These devices are able to precisely control the motor speed and trim/balance systems. Variable speed control compressor gives end-users the comfort of matching the speed to what is needed at the time; giving precise temperature control with less cycling and longer run times. With longer run times, the technology also helps to remove moisture and relative humidity during the summer; or on the other hand during the winter by increasing the speed of compressor, system are able to deliver hotter air.

Compared to fixed compressor, where there are only two options for end-users to set: maximum capacity or completely off; variable speed drives gives the end-user an ability to adjust power output to compressor. The technology also comes with the benefit of less energy wasted from off and on cycle, precise load matching and low amp gradual compressor motor startup; therefore, improving the efficiency on certain conditions.

Compressor

Coupling variable speed drives to centrifugal compressor alter the behavior of the component. Although, not always requiring smaller energy (i.e at or near full load) compared to fixed speed compressor, installation of VSD could really benefit the users in terms of power consumption (i.e at part lift), to optimize even further implementation of both compressor types would benefit both conditions.

Want to learn more? Design your most efficient compressor using AxSTREAM

Reference:

Variable Speed Air Compressor

Reduction In Power Consumption Of Household Refrigerators By Using Variable Speed Compressors

The Impact of Variable-Speed Drives on HVAC Components

Heat pump and refrigeration cycle

 

Turbo pump design parameters for Liquid Propulsion

turbo3aLiquid propellant rocket is known as the most common traditional rocket design. Although the first design was launched back in 1926, liquid propellant rocket remains a popular technology which space exploration companies and institutions study for further improvement.

The implementation of this particular technology is based on a simple idea: fuel and oxidizer are fed through a combustion chamber where both liquids will met and burned to produce launching energy. In order to inject propellant to combustion chamber, a turbo-pump is used to create required pressure . The turbo-pump design and operating parameters contribute to the optimization of both turbo-pump and engine system performance. The pump needs to be designed to avoid cavitation while operates pushing the liquid to combustion chamber.

There are three different cycles which are often used in liquid propellant rocket: the staged combustion, expander and gas generator cycle. Configuration of the turbo-pump strongly relies on the cycle and engine requirements –thus the best design must be selected from options available for the particular cycle’s optimal parameters. For example for staged combustion cycle, where turbine flows is in series with thrust chamber, the application allows high power turbo-pumps; which means high expansion ratio nozzles can be used at low altitude for better performance. Whereas, for implementation of gas-generator cycle, turbine flows are linked in parallel to thrust chamber, consequently, gas generator cycle turbine does not have to work the injection process from exhaust to combustion chamber, thus simplified the design and allows lighter weight to be implemented.

Some parameters are interdependent when it comes to designing a turbo-pump, i.e: turbo-pump cycle efficiency, pump specific needs, pump efficiencies, NPSH, overall performance, etc. Often in practice, pump characteristics will determine the maximum shaft speed at which a unit can operate. Once it’s determined turbine type, arrangements, and else can be selected. Another thing that must be taken into consideration while designing a turbo-pump is how it affect the overall payloads.

Schematic of a pump-fed liquid rocket
Schematic of a pump-fed liquid rocket

Turbo-pump design affect payload in different ways:

  1. Component weight
  2. Inlet suction pressure. As suction pressure goes up, the tank and pressurization system weight increased and reduce the payload.
  3. Gas flowrate, since increase in flowrate decrease the allowable-stage burnout weight, which would decrease payload weight.

All those has to be taken into consideration while trying to select an optimal design of turbo-pump, since it crucially affects overall performance of the engine.

Want to learn more how to design a turbo-pump? Check out AxSTREAM as your design, analysis and optimization tool!

 

References:
Turbopumps for Liquid Rocket Engines
Design of Liquid-Propellant Rocket Engines
Principal of Operation – Liquid-propellant rocket
Staged combustion cycle
Gas-generator cycle

 

Re-inventing the wheel (or perhaps our education system)?

I hope everyone is having a great week. I wanted to write about our education system, as it relates to Turbomachinery, and perhaps some challenges that educators / students face, and some ideas for how things can be improved.

As computation technologies have evolved over the last 30-40 years, it seems that a large number of education institutions are still behind.

Part of my job at SoftInWay, is to make sure that local  & global Universities involved in Turbomachinery have the most advanced software tools, so that the students graduating from undergraduate, as well as Masters and PhD level programs, have some kind of relevant skills to develop / optimize Turbomachinery, as well as know how to use relevant software tools.

From talking to Academia from different countries, it seems that professors (perhaps due to bureaucracy of their positions) are often faced with several challenges / decisions:

1. No budget for software tools thus forced to use free tools

2. Desire to create their own software, to eventually spin off and start a company

3. Lack of deep technical program, thus only picking macro topics as they relate to turbomachinery as general thermodynamics, etc. (which is important also).

What’s the problem with all of these approaches: When students graduate, and want to go into the field of Turbomachinery, a large portion of these students think that “Turbomachinery Design” can be done with CFD.

Looking at the last 5-10 years of CFD as it relates to Turbomachinery, people have been in several “camps”, with the most known names (such as products from Ansys, or CD Adapco (now owned by Siemens), Numeca, and some free open source CFD codes.  Additionally, there has been a plethora of free or academic codes written by 100s of wide-eyed graduates students in hoping of making the next big software company.

Why does this cripple the education system, industry and the general concept of innovation? First of all, in all of these packages, you are going on the assumption that you already have a geometry of the turbomachinery and generally know what the machine looks like. Granted, some advertise that by “partnering” with other vendors they can do 1D or inverse design, when looking at these options closely, they are still very weak.   At the same time, there are lessor known CFD packages (from example our Turbomachinery specific CFD module AxCFD that we offer) that while hasn’t been aggressively marketed, comes at 30% of the cost, and has not only faster computation speed, but is fully integrated in a complete turbomachinery design platform. While this is a great option for students, very few know about it, and we are always stuck with a thought “people need to understand the complete process of design, not just CFD, so let’s focus on teaching that, and sharing that message”.

In addition to working with Universities, another part of my job at SoftInWay is hiring, so what have i learned from looking at 1000s of resumes from masters and PhD students?

If you start to dig deeply, about what candidates have learned about turbomachinery design, how well do they understand, for example, compressor aerodynamics, or gas turbine cooling, quite often the answers come up short. This creates a steep learning curve, not just for our company, but also for major manufacturers and service providers.

We believe, that instead of the next generation of students, trying to re-invent the wheel, and spend their 2,3,4,5,6 years of education  on equations and writing code, for a problem that has been solved, they should use a holistic approach, to advance, Power Generation, Transportation, Propulsion and Advance the clean energy space.

We have created a range of free resources for students in an online university format (learn.softinway.com) and encourage everyone to dig deeply, and together we can create a greener world, for the future generations.

Additionally, our turbomachinery development platform AxSTREAM (r), is the only platform in the world which is wholly integrated and developed in-house, including thermodynamic cycle design, 1D,2D,3D turbomachinery design, analysis and optimization, rotor dynamics and bearing design, stress analysis, advanced optimization and visualization, etc.

** Feel free to fact check this by looking at your current software simulation tools, and see how many modules or features or “tools” are borrowed from other companies.  How can one ever learn and understand how things work and talk to each other, if knowledge is not developed, but rather borrowed.

If  you are a student, or a professor at a college or university, and are interested in improving your turbomachinery program, and giving your students the extra skills (fundamentals and software), to really develop innovations, please write me a message !

Message Me

What parallels exist between traditional Gas Turbines with SCO2 turbine of the future?

At the beginning of my studying of the peculiarities of supercritical CO2 (S-CO2) cycle I was wondering: why do scientists involved in this area state that highest temperature limit for the cycle is about 650-700 ˚C. In turn, the inlet temperature in the first stages of gas turbines handles the temperatures about 900 ˚C without cooling at similar pressure levels as for supercritical CO2 Turbines. As a result the following question rose in my mind – why the temperature magnitudes of 900 ˚C are not achievable in S-CO2 turbines?

As a next step, some investigations were performed with the aim to reveal the essence of such a temperature limit. Eventually the result was quite obvious but rather interesting. The density of S-CO2 is significantly higher than the density of combustion products at the same pressure and temperature magnitudes. This fact means that stresses at static vanes and rotating blades are significantly higher than in gas turbines vanes and blades at the same conditions. Therefore the maximum allowable temperature for S-CO2 turbine will be respectively less with the same high temperature material. However, you might say that there is another way to solve the problem with stresses, namely, increasing the chords of blades, leading edge thickness, trailing edge thickness, fillets etc. This approach would lead to such blades shape and turbine cascade configuration that their aerodynamic quality becomes very low so the gain in efficiency at cycle level will be leveled.

Interested in learning more about our research, and how using the AxSTREAM turbomachinery platform, we were able to study these phenomena?

Contact us for a chat!

Crowd Sourcing Innovation – What’s your vision?

Dear Friends,

I hope that you are having a great week. In case that you are not on our mailing list, I wanted to share some updates and discuss innovation.

Typically, every week we send marketing or information emails about our latest customers, case studies, upcoming webinars & seminars, etc.

However, after along product development meeting planning our next 3-9 month, I wanted to reach out to the world and ask: how can we help? What don’t you like about your current engineering process? How can you do what you do faster? What would it take to develop a truly more efficeint machine?

Simulation technology and computers have come a long way in the last 30+ years, and yet there are still many companies, and engineering departments stuck using old designs, and methods.

For those of you who have attended the 2005 Turbo Expo in Montreal, we first publically laid out the idea of “Collaborative Development” and “Crowd Sourcing Innovation”: Watch Video

We are working hard on getting ready the next generation of AxSTREAM Platform, and AxCYCLE, with features and level of integration, that the industry has never seen before.

If you have a few minutes, we would appreciate you answering a few questions, and providing some ideas / or some pains / frustrations you may currently have about your turbomachinery design/analysis process.
**** 10 people will be picked at random, to receive a free access to our online, self-paced, Turbomachinery Course of their choosing.

Please respond by filling out this questionnaire: Questionnaire

We greatly appreciate your help, and feedback.
Warmest Regards,
Valentine Moroz

Looking Back at SoftInWay’s 2015

Happy New Year! The holiday season and 2015 have come to a close, and it has been quite a year. In this post, we are taking a look back at some of the greatest developments we have accomplished this year at SoftInWay. Take a look at the list and see if you missed anything, and stay tuned for a look at some of our plans and goals for 2016!

1. SoftInWay Turbomachinery University

Early in 2015, we launched STU, an innovative learning portal that provides online training for optimal turbomachinery design and analysis. STU consists of video courses on a variety of subjects, and corresponding exams. We have added 4 full courses in the past year. STU also features all recorded SoftInWay webinars and discounted versions of our software. Find STU here.

2. Software Upgrades

Our Software Platforms, AxSTREAM and AxCYCLE have become even more sophisticated in the last year. AxSTREAM, now version 3.4.3.0, has seen the addition of brand new capabilities, including Rotor Dynamic analysis and Bearing design.
AxCYCLE, now version 4.230, saw a major upgrade at the end of 2015 in the form of a new Module for Economic Analysis. The Module performs the estimation of cost and economic efficiency of power plants. It is the first tool of its kind in the industry.

3. Growing Team

SoftInWay expanded it’s team this year with new members in three of our offices. We have grown both our sales and technical teams for more efficient client communication and project execution. We are so happy to welcome our new teammates, and look forward to adding even more in 2016!

4. And more!

There are too many things to list! So here are a few more:
– We had our most successful webinars this year with a record number of registrants and attendees.
– We attended old and new conferences all of the world and at them published a number of papers and presentations.
– Our networking event at Turbo Expo in Montreal was a huge success. We hope to host more events in 2016 in new locations, including New York City!

We wish everyone a very happy New Year. We’re looking forward to 2016 where we will continue to innovate and grow.

Upcoming Webinar: Power Plant Cost Estimation

Cost Estimation and Economic Analysis for Power Plants

Thursday, January 21st | 10:00 – 11:00 AM EST

The Kendall Cogeneration Station in Cambridge, MA

Registration is open for our first webinar of 2016.

The processes of power plant design, enlargement, and redesign must consider certain factors, such as technological scheme, basic cycle parameters, equipment configuration, and fuel type. These factors have long reached beyond the scope of the technical and physical, and must consider economic criteria. Economic indicators are fundamental when selecting a specific solution. Therefore, even at the initial stages of a project, engineering problems should be considered in parallel with the assessment of economic efficiency. In addition, a power plant is a very complex entity, and introductory capital costs cannot be the only economic criteria considered. The economic indexes over the entire lifecycle of the plant must be accounted for.

The modern world has seen extensive investment in the field of cost estimation. The approximate estimation of cost and economic efficiency of a power plant, however, is a complicated and time-consuming process. It demands a high level of knowledge and information.

In order to simplify this process, and make it available for the engineering community, SoftInWay, a leading turbomachinery solutions provider, developed the new AxCYCLE Module for Economic Analysis. This webinar will demonstrate the module and discuss its extensive capabilities and applications.

We look forward to a great webinar and your challenging questions. Please register ahead of time and if you have any specific questions, let us know during the registration so that we can try to incorporate the answers into our presentation.

 

Release of New Economic Module at Power-Gen 2015

Will we see you at POWER-GEN 2015?
POWER-GEN International 2015 is only one month away! We are finalizing plans for our trip to Las Vegas, where we will be exhibiting and demonstrating our latest company developments.

SoftInWay has had several major recent developments that we will be featuring at the conference. Here are a few:

  • We will be releasing our newest module DURING Power-Gen! This new AxCYCLE economic module provides power plant equipment cost estimation as well as investment analysis of plant construction. The module features opportunities for user-defined data use, the incorporation of the user’s models for equipment cost estimation, and comparisons of cash flow charts with alternative projects. It will be a key tool for turbomachinery industry decision-makers, who must not only consider machine efficiency, but also the price of construction, redesign, or component replacement. The module will be launched and demonstrated at the conference.
  • In September we released three new modules: AxSTREAM Bearing, Rotor Design, and RotorDynamics. These modules allow for the design of turbomachinery rotors and bearings, and for rotor dynamic analysis.

Come to booth 1014 to learn more about these, and other, developments.  Or stop in for a short demonstration of our software. Would you like to schedule an in-depth meeting with our team during the conference? Email us at info@softinway.com.

Explaining the Binary Power Cycle

Geothermal energy is known to be a reliable and sustainable energy source. As the world gives more attention to the state of the environment, people lean towards using more energy sources which have little to no impact on nature. Where it is true that currently no other energy source can outperform fossil fuel due to its energy concentration, geothermal energy is a good prospect as a temporary substitute until a better form of energy supply is found.

There are two types of geothermal power sources; one is known as the steam plant and the other is the Binary cycle. Binary cycles have the conceptual objectives of: high efficiency — minimizing losses; low cost to optimize component design; and critical choice of working fluid. This particular type of cycle allows cooler geothermal supply to be used, which has a huge benefit since lower temperature resources are much more common in nature.

blog - binary power1blog - binary power2

 

 

 

 

 

 

The way a binary cycle works can be explained using the diagram shown above. Since the temperature of geothermal source is not high enough to produce steam, hot water is fed into a heat exchanger. From there, secondary liquid with lower boiling water than water i.e. isobutane, absorbs the heat generated. As the steam of secondary liquid moves the turbine, electricity will then be produced. This whole process repeats in a cycle since the secondary fluid will then condense back to its liquid state and being used for the same process.

From the process described above, it can be seen that binary cycle is a self-contained cycle — ‘nothing’ goes to waste. This fact leads to the potential of having low producing cost energy source from binary power cycle. That being said, due to the lower temperature, the conversion efficiency of the geothermal heat is also considerably low. Consequently, Carnot efficiency of such process is lower than most power cycles. Large amount of heat is required to operate a binary cycle, leading to a better and larger equipment. Not only that since a bigger amount of heat energy has to be let out to the environment during the cycle, a sufficient cooling system must be installed. Although the production cost is found to be lower, the investment cost for installation would be very expensive. Then, the main question to this particular technology implementation would be how to improve the quality of production and economic feasibility?

First, one of the main aspect of binary power cycle is to overcome water imperfection as a main fluid. Consequently choosing optimal working fluid is a very essential step. Characteristic of optimal working fluids would include a high critical temperature and maximum pressure, lower triple-point temperature, sufficient condenser pressure, high vaporization enthalpy, and other properties.

Second, it was studied on multiple different events that well-optimized ORCs perform better than Kalina cycles. The type of components chosen in the cycle also affect the cycle performance quite substantially, i.e plate heat exchanger was found to perform better in an ORC cycle in the geothermal binary application compared to shell-and-tube. Addition of recuperator or turbine bleeding also have the potency to improve the overall performance of a binary cycle plant. It is important to model multiple thermodynamic cycle to make sure that the chosen one is the most optimized based on the boundary conditions. While designing ranges of thermodynamic cycles, it is common that the cycle is modeled based on ideal assumptions. For binary cycle in geothermal application, plant efficiency would be the most important parameter. In order to achieve a desired plant efficiency, both cycle efficiency and plant effectiveness should be maximized.

Additionally, pinch-point-temperature between condenser and heat exchanger is a substantial aspect to pay attention to, even the smallest change of in temperature is considered a significant change. Thus, including this parameter is a very important aspect.

This particular cycle has many potentials which haven’t been explored. Enhance the advantages of your binary power cycle using our thermodynamic tool, AxCYCLE.

Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_cycle
http://www.technologystudent.com/energy1/geo3.htm
http://www.researchgate.net/publication/229148932_Optimized_geothermal_binary_power_cycles