The effect of working fluid properties on the performance of a miniature free piston expander for waste heat harvesting
Burugupally, Sindhu Preetham
Depcik, Christopher David
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Burugupally, Sindhu Preetham; Weiss, Leland; Depcik, Christopher David. 2019. The effect of working fluid properties on the performance of a miniature free piston expander for waste heat harvesting. Applied Thermal Engineering, vol. 151:pp 431-438
Power generation from waste heat sources at the miniature length scales may be generated by using phase change working fluids (liquid-to-vapor) in a traditional boiler-expander-condenser-pump system. This paper builds on our prior work of boiler and expander design by investigating the effects of working fluid properties on an expander unit based on a Free Piston (FPE) architecture. Here, using first principles, a lumped-parameter model of the FPE is derived by idealizing the FPE as a linear spring-mass-damper system. Moreover, a linear-generator model is incorporated to study the effects on useful power output from the FPE directly. As a result, insight into the thermodynamic processes within the FPE are detailed and general recommendations for working fluid selection are established. They include: (1) to achieve a higher FPE efficiency, it is desirable for a working fluid to have high specific heat ratio, and (2) a peak output voltage of about 20 V AC and peak output power of around 2 W can be generated by coupling a centimeter-scale electromagnetic energy converter to the FPE. Overall, this effort shows the promise of reliable miniature thermal power generation from low temperature waste heat sources.
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