Organic Rankine cycle power generation research

| Global Environmental Processes

Consortium embarks on research project to bring reliable solar energy and renewable heat source to the Chinese energy market.

High energy density, high power density Heat Battery energy storage company, Sunamp, has led a successful funding bid jointly with Glasgow University and partners in China to boost the performance of Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) power plants that use clean, although intermittent, renewable heat sources for distributed heat and power supply in China.

By integrating Sunamp’s heat storage technologies with the ORC it is possible to produce a more dependable distributed heat and power supply using a wide range of renewable heat sources, such as solar energy.

ORC has the same working principle as a steam power cycle, except it uses organic compounds with low boiling points as working fluids. It is believed to be among the most promising technologies to use sources of renewable heat and cut pollution generated by fossil fuels, and it perfectly fits  the needs of a country like China, still mainly relying on coal for its heat and power needs, but with big plans to increase penetration of renewables.

The joint project has been awarded £2M (10M RMB and £815K GBP) funding from the China-UK Research and Innovation Bridges programme, a joint UK China initiative under the Newton Fund developing products for agri-food, energy, healthcare, and urbanisation. At £21m, it is largest ever bilateral call between UK and China. In addition, UK partners have contributed £182K towards project costs and Chinese partners contributed a further £577K.

The research consortium comprises Sunamp Ltd and University of Glasgow in the UK, and Chinese project lead Beijing University of Technology (BJUT) and business partner China Investment Yixing Red Sun Solar Energy Technology Company (CIYR), a medium sized SME focusing on solar thermal power generation technologies.

Andrew Bissell, Sunamp founder and CEO, said: “To overcome the intermittency of solar energy, Sunamp heat batteries will be integrated with  ORC power plants to store heat energy for power generation when the sun doesn’t shine.  This funding award allows us to bring together complementary expertise of the project partners in the UK and China to address the remaining technical challenges ready for commercial roll out.”

Academic leader Dr Zhibin Yu from the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering said: “We’re pleased to be working on this exciting project with Sunamp, Beijing University of Technology and China Investment Yixing Red Sun Solar Energy Technology Company.

“The Rankine Cycle is named after the University of Glasgow pioneer Professor William Rankine FRS (1820-1872), so it’s particularly fitting that the University of Glasgow is contributing to this project. Building upon on-going research on ORC power generation technologies at the School, this exciting project will facilitate knowledge transfer, delivering real impacts to the world.”

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