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Numerical CFD simulations and indicated pressure measurements on a sliding vane expander for heat to power conversion applications

Bianchi, G., Rane, S., Fatigati, F. , Cipollone, R. & Kovacevic, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-8732-2242 (2019). Numerical CFD simulations and indicated pressure measurements on a sliding vane expander for heat to power conversion applications. Designs, 3(3), article number 31. doi: 10.3390/designs3030031


The paper presents an extensive investigation of a small-scale sliding vane rotary expander operating with R245fa. The key novelty is in an innovative operating layout, which considers a secondary inlet downstream of the conventional inlet port. The additional intake supercharges the expander by increasing the mass of the working fluid in the working chamber during the expansion process; this makes it possible to harvest a greater power output within the same machine. The concept of supercharging is assessed in this paper through numerical computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations which are validated against experimental data, including the mass flow rate and indicated pressure measurements. When operating at 1516 rpm and between pressures of 5.4 bar at the inlet and 3.2 bar at the outlet, the supercharged expander provided a power output of 325 W. The specific power output was equal to 3.25 kW/(kg/s) with a mechanical efficiency of 63.1%. The comparison between internal pressure traces obtained by simulation and experimentally is very good. However, the numerical model is not able to account fully for the overfilling of the machine. A comparison between a standard and a supercharged configuration obtained by CFD simulation shows that the specific indicated power increases from 3.41 kW/(kg/s) to 8.30 kW/(kg/s). This large power difference is the result of preventing overexpansion by supercharging. Hence, despite the greater pumping power required for the increased flow through the secondary inlet, a supercharged expander would be the preferred option for applications where the weight of the components is the key issue, for example, in transport applications.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: sliding vane expander; positive displacement expander; waste heat recovery; dynamic computational grid; user defined nodal displacement; CFD; indicated pressure; ORC; R245fa
Subjects: T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
SWORD Depositor:
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Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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