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Technology concepts

This research theme is about holistic concepts for design and standardisation of ORC plants and processes and tailoring them to specific heat resources instead of adopting a one size fits all approach. An Expert Design Tool (EDT) is under development as part of this research theme which addresses the need to have a comprehensive and overarching web and software based design support tool available for the NZ AGGAT industry sector. The research will be based on international state of the art knowledge resources specific to thermal system design. The research will produce tailored AGGAT expert knowledge components through the specific knowledge gained through the other research themes.

Using the EDT and outputs from other research themes, standardized system concepts will be created for ORC plants that will be able to accommodate a wide range of low enthalpy heat resources. This will be achieved through extensive modelling and performance experimentation, engineering of individual plant components and their integration in the resulting system; the object being to maximise the efficiency obtainable from a given source. The research relies on pilot plant and commercial system opportunities involving 3 ORC reference sites. It will commence with off-the-shelf or components manufactured by the industry partners for the testing unit and will then be extended with interchangeable modules created in the other research themes.

Design tool development

A novel approach to energy systems design is being created in this project which will support the ready design of plants reducing the need for elaborate assessments of field resources and/or making design decisions for equipment procurement and construction. The objective of this project is to create a system of expert tools that will be able to provide a design base with significantly reduced human investment for given inputs and resource conditions. Dr. Susan Krumdieck is leading this work stream of research supported by the expertise of a team of highly skilled researchers. There is a strong industry interface with this work stream to ensure a good match between research outputs and the development of end products.

Standardized System Concepts

This project is creating standardized system concepts for power plants to reduce the need for expensive customised power generating solutions in order to accommodate a wide range of low enthalpy heat resources. The project draws on the teams design and modelling capabilities as well as laboratory, pilot and commercial scale testing facilities available within the AGGAT programme for proof of concept at each stage. This work stream spans across all active AGGAT projects, leveraging off their individual innovations in a process testing environment. The work stream is being led by Dr. Boaz Habib who liaises with a team of industry professionals as well as expert researchers to ensure effective technology transfer from research through to market

Memory alloy engine

Through an international collaboration, a prototype concept is being developed to look at the use of a special breed of alloys that can take advantage of their compression / expansion property in the presence of heat energy to create power. The concept has been shown to work and is currently in its next stage of development.

Cooling concepts

Process cooling is an important part of many industries, however providing cooling can represent a major energy consumption. This project investigates exactly how the waste heat that is currently being transferred through fluids or gas in industries can be used to generate electricity while achieving a cooling effect required by other industrial processes, thereby reducing parasitic loads.

Stirling cycle technology

The Stirling cycle is a prospective option to consider for power generation involving a range of heat sources from solar thermal to biomass, geothermal or waste heat. Other options for use of the Stirling cycle include refrigeration. The Stirling cycle whilst very promising has certain challenges which include sealing/leaking issues and the need for reliable drive mechanisms. Dr. Michael Gschwendtner leads this work stream and is working with industry partners to investigate the optimum niche application of Stirling technology within the AGGAT programme.

Field based low-enthalpy hydro-thermal power plant

The purpose of technology concepts is to ensure that innovations and best practice are transferred readily into designs which can then be validated through field testing. For this purpose, a project has been created to set up field-based testing facilities across hydrothermal and waste heat resources which will facilitate technology performance examination at component, operation and plant level.

Field based low-enthalpy waste heat power plant / Industrial flue gas

A sister-site in conjunction with the earlier mentioned hydrothermal resource is also being developed as a separate project which specifically makes use of a low-enthalpy waste heat resource for power generation using a binary cycle plant. The philosophy of its management and operations is similar to the hydro-thermal facility where this reference plant is also being prepared in collaboration with industrial support. The scale of operation at this facility is 150-200kW.