An ejector is a device with no moving components and is made up of four main parts: converging-diverging nozzle, suction chamber, mixing section and diffuser. It has become popular in refrigeration system as it gives the advantage of recovering expansion energy from high pressure difference into compression energy.
In this study, the potential use of ejector in powerplants that use low-grade or low temperature heat sources was conceptualized and analytically investigated. A novel combination of the ejector and the organic Rankine cycle (ORC) was proposed. The driving fluid in the ejector of the proposed powerplant cycle is the high-pressure liquid in the separator that is just circulated back to the evaporator in the ORC. Further increase in turbine temperature drop (TTD), which can increase the power output and efficiency of the plant, can be achieved through expansion, mixing and recompression processes in the ejector. Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), solar-boosted OTEC (SOTEC), solar-thermal, waste-heat driven, biomass and geothermal powerplants were considered in the analysis.
Mathematical models in our previous studies were developed and used to calculate for nozzle and ejector parameters. The geometric profile of the ejector for optimization with categorized heat sources was determined. Isentropic, internally reversible, and irreversible two-phase nozzle expansions were analyzed. Two-phase flow calculations were continued in the mixing section. It was assumed that the constant-pressure mixing of the primary and secondary fluids occur at the hypothetical throat inside the constant-area section. Calculation for shock wave in the mixing section was also done. The diffuser was analyzed in a similar manner with the nozzle.
Calculation for other components and plant efficiencies was finally conducted. Ammonia and propane which are both natural working fluids were used in the analysis. Evaporator temperature range from 293.15 K to 393.15 K and condenser and ambient temperatures range from 283.15 K to 308.15 K were used in the analysis. The lowest ambient temperature of 283.15 K was used for the OTEC and SOTEC powerplants. It was shown that ammonia and propane can operate up to 11 K and 12 K below the ambient temperature, respectively. Ejector efficiency ranged from 90 to 95% for both working fluids. The maximum efficiencies of the ejector powerplant were 19.2% for ammonia and 14.9% for propane, compared to 11.7% and 9.8% of the conventional ORC. It was analytically determined that the efficiency of the ejector powerplant is higher than that of the ORC powerplant for the same working fluid and conditions of the evaporator, condenser and the ambient.