ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle) – What They Are and Main Advantages

Lately there have been plenty of advancements in the field of alternative energy sources. Conferences are being held, projects completed, and devices invented and patented, all of which means we are entering an era during which we will be able to stop exploiting Earth’s oil supplies for generating energy. ORC is one of the things that will help us do this, and in this post we are going to talk about what it is and what its main advantages are.

Organic Rankine Cycle (http://exergy-orc.com/technology/orc, which is usually shortened to ORC, is the name that has been given to a thermodynamic cycle the purpose of which is to convert heat into energy. It features a closed loop that is usually supplied with a compound of hydrocarbons as the working fluid. The heat that gets converted into energy is supplied using the loop and comes from an outside source. The first, although primitive, Rankine Cycle was made by Frank Ofeldt in 1883. The device, however, was named after William J.M. Rankine, a man who contributed greatly to the field of thermodynamics. Although they are based on the same principles, there is a big difference between a traditional Rankine Cycle and an organic one about what is used as working fluid: water or steam in the first case, organic substances in the latter. What follows is a list of some of the main advantages to using ORC.


Waste heat recovery

Some  industrial processes and plants spend  much energy and  they waste a significant amount of it through exhaustgases. ORC can be used to recover that heat from exhaust gases and turn it into energy that can be used all over again. This process can be applied to various industrial processes, in the oil&gas field and to power stations.

Biomass power plant

Smaller power plants have the option of using biomass for their electricity production, which saves a lot of money and reduces energy waste. In order to do this, the more appropriate technology to use is Organic Rankine Cycle thanks to its high efficiency and competitiveness compared to a steam cycle and flexibility to adapt to different conditions given by the type of biomass used as fuel

Solar thermal power

Replacing the traditional Rankine Cycle with ORC results in generating power at lower capacities. This makes it possible to reduce the cost for concentrated solar power units or CSP units, which in turn results in decreased energy waste.