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1. Rankine thermodynamic cycle

The Rankine cycle closely describes the process by which steam-operated heat engines commonly found in thermalpower generation plants generate power. The heat sources used in these power plants are usually nuclear fission or the combustion of fossil fuels such as coalnatural gas, and oil.

The efficiency of the Rankine cycle is limited by the high heat of vaporization of the working fluid. Also, unless the pressure and temperature reach super critical levels in the steam boiler, the temperature range the cycle can operate over is quite small: steam turbine entry temperatures are typically around 565C and steam condenser temperatures are around 30C. This gives a theoretical maximum Carnot efficiency for the steam turbine alone of about 63% compared with an actual overall thermal efficiency of up to 42% for a modern coal-fired power station. This low steam turbine entry temperature (compared to a gas turbine) is why the Rankine (steam) cycle is often used as a bottoming cycle to recover otherwise rejected heat in combined-cycle gas turbine power stations.

The working fluid in a Rankine cycle follows a closed loop and is reused constantly. The water vapor with condensed droplets often seen billowing from power stations is created by the cooling systems (not directly from the closed-loop Rankine power cycle) and represents the means for (low temperature) waste heat to exit the system, allowing for the addition of (higher temperature) heat that can then be converted to useful work (power). This 'exhaust' heat is represented by the "Qout" flowing out of the lower side of the cycle shown in the T/s diagram below. Cooling towers operate as large heat exchangers by absorbing the latent heat of vaporization of the working fluid and simultaneously evaporating cooling water to the atmosphere. While many substances could be used as the working fluid in the Rankine cycle, water is usually the fluid of choice due to its favorable properties, such as its non-toxic and unreactive chemistry, abundance, and low cost, as well as its thermodynamic properties. By condensing the working steam vapor to a liquid the pressure at the turbine outlet is lowered and the energy required by the feed pump consumes only 1% to 3% of the turbine output power and these factors contribute to a higher efficiency for the cycle. The benefit of this is offset by the low temperatures of steam admitted to the turbine(s). Gas turbines, for instance, have turbine entry temperatures approaching 1500C. However, the thermal efficiencies of actual large steam power stations and large modern gas turbine stations are similar.


Carnot heat engine 2.svg


2. Stirling heat engine


Stirling engine is a heat engine that operates by cyclic compression and expansion of air or other gas (the working fluid) at different temperatures, such that there is a net conversion of heat energy to mechanical work.[1][2] More specifically, the Stirling engine is a closed-cycle regenerative heat engine with a permanently gaseous working fluid. Closed-cycle, in this context, means a thermodynamic system in which the working fluid is permanently contained within the system, and regenerative describes the use of a specific type of internal heat exchanger and thermal store, known as the regenerator. The inclusion of a regenerator differentiates the Stirling engine from other closed cycle hot air engines.

Originally conceived in 1816 as an industrial prime mover to rival the steam engine, its practical use was largely confined to low-power domestic applications for over a century.[3]

The Stirling engine is noted for high efficiency compared to steam engines,[4] quiet operation, and its ability to use almost any heat source. The heat energy source is generated external to the Stirling engine rather than by internal combustion as with the otto cycle or diesel cycleengines. Because the Stirling engine is compatible with alternative and renewable energy sources it could become increasingly significant as the price of conventional fuels rises, and also in light of concerns such as peak oil and climate change. This engine is currently exciting interest as the core component of micro combined heat and power (CHP) units, in which it is more efficient and safer than a comparable steam engine.





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*** Some materials come from wikipedia

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