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Applied Thermal Engineering 110 (2017) 318–326

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Applied Thermal Engineering


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/apthermeng

Research Paper

Performance estimation of Tesla turbine applied in small scale Organic


Rankine Cycle (ORC) system
Jian Song, Chun-wei Gu, Xue-song Li ⇑
Key Laboratory for Thermal Science and Power Engineering of Ministry of Education, Department of Thermal Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China

h i g h l i g h t s

 One-dimensional model of the Tesla turbine is improved and applied in ORC system.
 Working fluid properties and system operating conditions impact efficiency.
 The influence of turbine efficiency on ORC system performance is evaluated.
 Potential of using Tesla turbine in ORC systems is estimated.

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) system has been proven to be an effective method for the low grade energy
Received 12 June 2016 utilization. In small scale applications, the Tesla turbine offers an attractive option for the organic
Revised 10 August 2016 expander if an efficient design can be achieved. The Tesla turbine is simple in structure and is easy to
Accepted 26 August 2016
be manufactured. This paper improves the one-dimensional model for the Tesla turbine, which adopts
Available online 27 August 2016
a non-dimensional formulation that identifies the dimensionless parameters that dictates the perfor-
mance features of the turbine. The model is used to predict the efficiency of a Tesla turbine that is applied
Keywords:
in a small scale ORC system. The influence of the working fluid properties and the operating conditions on
ORC
Tesla turbine
the turbine performance is evaluated. Thermodynamic analysis of the ORC system with different organic
One-dimensional model working fluids and under various operating conditions is conducted. The simulation results reveal that
Performance estimation the ORC system can generate a considerable net power output. Therefore, the Tesla turbine can be
regarded as a potential choice to be applied in small scale ORC systems.
Ó 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction the traditional turbines under small mass flow rate condition also
limits their practical applications. In this case, the Tesla turbine
Primary energy consumption is enlarging rapidly with the allows a low-cost and reliable design for the organic expander that
development of the human society. Energy shortage and environ- could be an attractive option for small scale ORC systems.
mental deterioration are two consequent crucial issues that the The Tesla turbine was invented by the famous scientist, Nikola
developing world has to face. In order to solve these problems, Tesla, in 1913 [15]. It is a kind of turbo-machinery that combines a
the utilization of low grade heat sources, such as the geothermal series of flat parallel discs rather than rotating blades. Thus, the
energy [1,2], the solar energy [3,4], the biomass energy [5,6] and Tesla turbine is called the bladeless turbine as well. The discs
the waste heat [7,8], is attracting broad attention in recent years. distribute co-axially along a shaft such that a small gap is formed
Among all of the existing technologies, the Organic Rankine Cycle between any two adjacent discs. This design makes use of the vis-
(ORC) has been proven to be one of the most effective methods cous effect of the working fluid which occurs in the boundary layer
for the low grade energy conversion [9–14]. The axial flow turbine flow between the rotating discs. The working fluid flows spirally
and the radial in-flow turbine are typically selected as the expan- from the outer part to the inner part and transfers the kinetic
ders in the ORC system. However, in small scale applications, the energy to the discs. Then the working fluid flows out through the
traditional organic expanders are not suitable since the flow loss holes located between the inner part of the discs and the shaft.
will be considerably large. In addition, the high rotation speed of The combination of the discs and the shaft is placed inside a shell
and a plenum chamber is formed, out of which several nozzles are
⇑ Corresponding author. distributed uniformly to supply the inflow working fluid.
E-mail address: xs-li@mail.tsinghua.edu.cn (X.-s. Li).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2016.08.168
1359-4311/Ó 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
J. Song et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 110 (2017) 318–326 319

Nomenclature

m_ mass flow rate, kg/s u nozzle velocity coefficient


Q heat load, kW q density, kg/m3
h specific enthalpy, kJ/kg l viscosity coefficient, Pas
cp specific heat capacity, kJ/kgK n relative radius
T temperature, K
p pressure, kPa Subscripts
W power, kW wf working fluid
v velocity, m/s tot total
c sonic speed, m/s HS heat source
r radius, mm in inlet
b gap distance, mm out outlet
f friction force factor pump pump
Re Reynolds number evap evaporator
V volume, m3 exp expander
A area, m2 cond condenser
v^ h relative velocity, m/s c cooling water
W^ dimensionless relative velocity net net
X a dimensionless parameter the thermal
C constant number T turbine
exp experiment 1 outer circumference of the rotor
sim simulation 2 inner circumference of the rotor
N number of the discs
n rotation speed, rpm Acronyms
ORC Organic Rankine Cycle
Greek symbols GWP global warming potential
sw shear stress, N/m2 ODP ozone depletion potential
g efficiency

In the subsequent years after the invention of the Tesla turbine, characteristic and the momentum transfer in the Tesla turbine.
this novel concept has received enormous attention in both techni- As for a low grade heat source, a small scale ORC system is
cal and industrial fields. Many analytical and experimental investi- designed to utilize the energy and the Tesla turbine is applied to
gations have been conducted to explore the performance of the generate the power output. The one-dimensional model is used
Tesla turbine. Rice [16] reviewed the principles of the Tesla-type to predict the turbine efficiency. The influence of the working fluid
turbomachinery and discussed the problems with nozzles and dif- properties and the ORC system operating conditions on the Tesla
fusers. In addition, the analytical methods that had been found use- turbine performance is evaluated. Thermodynamic analysis of the
ful in modeling and calculating the flow in the rotor and the ORC system is conducted to explore the potential of applying the
experimental results obtained by some investigators were Tesla turbine in such small scale systems.
described. Couto et al. [17] presented a simple and straightforward
technique, using basic fluid mechanics, to estimate the needed 2. Thermodynamic model of ORC system
number of discs required for a Tesla turbine, compressor or pump.
Lemma et al. [18] presented experimental and numerical study to Fig. 1 shows the schematic diagram of a basic ORC system, which
explore the performance characteristics of viscous flow turbines consists of a working fluid pump, an evaporator, an
and the results indicated that the adiabatic efficiency of this kind organic expander and a condenser. The liquid organic working fluid
of turbomachinery was around 25%. Lampart et al. [19] presented from the condenser is firstly pumped into the evaporator, where it
results of the design analysis of a Tesla bladeless turbine intended is converted into saturated or superheated vapor by the heat source.
for a co-generating micro-power plant of heat capacity 20 kW, Next, the organic vapor expands in the expander to produce power.
which operated in an organic Rankine cycle with a low-boiling Afterwards, the exhaust organic vapor from the expander is con-
medium; the simulation results showed that the best obtained densed to liquid in the condenser by the cooling water.
solutions can be competitive as compared with classical small The thermal process of the ORC system is shown in Fig. 2, which
bladed turbines. Enign et al. [20] researched the experimental and can also be described as follows.
theoretical characterization of a multiple-disc fan based on the Process 1–2 in the working fluid pump is given by
principle of conservation of angular momentum. The effect of gap
width and rotational speed were numerically investigated for both _ wf  ðh2s  h1 Þ
m
W pump ¼ ð1Þ
design and off-design volume flow rates. Carey [21] developed a 1D gpump
model analysis for flow and momentum transport in the Tesla tur-
bine and evaluated the turbine use in Rankine cycle solar thermal where h2s is the isentropic enthalpy of the working fluid after being
power generation systems. Guha and Sengupta [22] presented a compressed in the pump, and gpump is the efficiency of the pump.
simple theory that described the three-dimensional fields of veloc- Process 2–4 in the evaporator is given by
ity and pressure in the Tesla disc turbine, which gave the torque and  
_ wf  ðh4  h2 Þ ¼ m
Q ev ap ¼ m _ HS  cp;HS  T HS;in  T HS;out ð2Þ
power output that had been verified by comparing the theoretical
predictions with recently published experimental results. where cp,HS is the average specific heat capacity of the heat source,
In this paper, the one-dimensional model for the Tesla turbine is and THS,in and THS,out are defined as its inlet and outlet temperatures,
used to predict its performance, which focuses on the flow respectively.
320 J. Song et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 110 (2017) 318–326

Fig. 1. Schematic diagram of a basic ORC system.

Fig. 3. Schematic diagram of a Tesla turbine.

Fig. 2. T-s diagram of ORC. wards, the working fluid flows out through the hole near the
inner part of the discs and the shaft.
A one-dimensional model [21] is presented to analysis the flow
Process 4–5 in the organic expander is given by characteristics in the Tesla turbine. First, the working fluid expands
_ wf  ðh4  h5s Þ  gT
WT ¼ m ð3Þ in the nozzles, with enthalpy dropping and velocity increasing:
( pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
where h5s is the isentropic enthalpy of the exhaust organic vapor at v1 ¼ u  2Dhs ; if v1 < c ð7Þ
the expander outlet, and gT is the efficiency of the organic expander. v 1 ¼ c; if v1 P c
Process 5–1 in the condenser is given by
  m _
Q cond ¼ m _ c  cp;c  T c;out  T c;in
_ wf  ðh5  h1 Þ ¼ m ð4Þ v r1 ¼  ð8Þ
2p r 1 b q
where cp,c is the average specific heat capacity of the cooling water, qffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
Tc,in and Tc,out are its inlet and outlet temperatures, respectively. v h1 ¼ v 21  v 2r1 ð9Þ
The net power output of the ORC system is
where u is the velocity coefficient of the nozzle, which indicates the
W net ¼ W T  W pump ð5Þ
flow loss that occurs in the expansion process. Eqs. (8) and (9) show
The thermal efficiency of the ORC system can be calculated as the velocity components in r-direction and h-direction.
In the original model, the maximum velocity at the nozzle out-
W net W T  W pump
gnet ¼ ¼   ð6Þ let is assumed to be the sonic speed (if choked in the nozzle). In
Q HS GHS  cp;HS  T HS;in  T HS;out other words, if the outlet velocity calculated is higher than the
sonic speed, v1 will be replaced by the sonic speed.
In the classical theory of turbine blade, however, the blade pro-
3. One-dimensional model of the Tesla turbine file after throat allows a supersonic flow at the blade outlet by a
series of expansion waves, the Mach number of which can reach
3.1. Model analysis up to 1.4 based on experience. Similarly, the nozzle profile of the
Tesla turbine can also produce a supersonic flow at the nozzle out-
Fig. 3 shows the schematic diagram of a Tesla turbine. The let. Moreover, it is not difficult to design a Laval nozzle for the Tesla
working fluid expands in the inlet nozzles and then flows spirally turbine, in which the numerical model of Eq. (10) is also available
into the rotor. The viscous effect that occurs in the boundary layers even the Mach number of the flow at the nozzle outlet is higher
drags the discs to rotate, within which the momentum of the work- than 1.4. Therefore, in this paper the model is improved by using
ing fluid transfers to kinetic energy of the rotating discs. After- the actual speed of the flow at the nozzle outlet.
J. Song et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 110 (2017) 318–326 321

pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
v1 ¼ u  2Dhs ð10Þ Thus, the h-direction momentum equation becomes
@v h v r v h 12lv^ h
The flow in the gaps between any two adjacent discs is a very
vr þ ¼ ð22Þ
thin fluid film, which is similar to that in the bearing [23,24] and @r r qb2
the seal [25,26]. Then, it is assumed to be a periodic symmetric,
steady, incompressible laminar flow. In the cylindrical coordinates, dv h 24pr lv^ h v h
¼  ð23Þ
the governing continuity Eq. (11) and momentum Eqs. (12)–(14) dr _
mb r
are listed below.
Several dimensionless parameters are defined and introduced
Continuity:
to make the equations simpler
1 @ðrv r Þ 1 @ v h @ v z
^ ¼ v^ h
þ þ ¼0 ð11Þ r 2b m _
r @r r @h @z W n¼ X¼  ð24Þ
U1 r1 r 1 pr 1 l
r-direction momentum:
  Then, Eq. (23) can be transformed to
@v r v h @v r @ v r v 2h 1 @P  
vr þ þ vz  ¼ dv^ h 1 v^ h 2U 1
@r r @h @z r q @r ¼
48r
  ð25Þ
"   # dr X  r1 r r
2 r1
1 @ @v r 1 @ v r @ v r v r 2 @v h
2 2
þt r þ 2 þ 2  2 2 þ fr
r @r @r r @h2 @z r r @h Finally, the equation can be simplified and given by
^  
ð12Þ dW 48n 1 ^
h-direction momentum: ¼  W 2 ð26Þ
dn X n
 
@v h v h @v h @v h v r v h 1 @P
vr þ þ vz þ ¼ Using the basic mathematical methods, Eq. (26) can be solved
@r r @h @z r qr @h and the result is shown below.
"   #
1 @ @v h 1 @2v h @2v h v h 2 @v r  
þt þ 2 þ  2 2 þ fh ^ ¼ 1 e24nX X 24n2
2
r W e X þC ð27Þ
r @r @r r @h2 @z2 r r @h n 24
ð13Þ
C is a constant value and it can be determined by the boundary con-
z-direction momentum: dition at the outer circumference of the rotor.
 
@v z v h @v z @v z 1 @P  
vr þ þ vz ¼ ^ 1 ¼ e24X X 24 v h1  U1
@r r @h @z q @z W
24
e X þC ¼
U1
ð28Þ
"   #
1 @ @v z 1 @ v z @2v z
2
þt r þ 2 þ þ fz ð14Þ Therefore, the equation can be indicated as
r @r @r r @h2 @z2    
^ ¼ 1 e24nX X e24nX þ W^ 1  X e24X
2 2

According to the assumptions and the idealizations, the four W ð29Þ


n 24 24
equations above can be reduced to the followings.
Continuity: The power output and the efficiency of the Tesla turbine can be
calculated through the following equations.
1 @ðrv r Þ h

i
¼0 ð15Þ
r @r _  ½v h1 U 1  v h2 U 2  ¼ m
WT ¼ m _  W^ 1 þ 1 U2  W
1
^ 2 þ n2 n2 U 2
1
r-direction momentum: ð30Þ
 
@v v 1 @P2

vr r  ¼  h
þ fr ð16Þ ^ 1 þ 1 U2  W^ 2 þ n2 n2 U 2
@r r q @r v h1 U1  v h2 U2 W 1 1
gT ¼ ¼ ð31Þ
h-direction momentum: Dh Dh
@v h v r v h According to Eqs. (29) and (31), if the geometry size of a Tesla
vr þ ¼ fh ð17Þ turbine is determined, the efficiency of the Tesla turbine is mainly
@r r
related to these two dimensionless parameters, X and W ^ 1 . Fig. 4
z-direction momentum:
  shows the variation of the turbine efficiency with these two
1 @P parameters for a specified Tesla turbine. The trends are clear from
0¼ ð18Þ
q @z the results. The highest Tesla turbine efficiency is attained for
both low X and low dimensionless inlet tangential velocity differ-
The model focuses on the momentum transfer in the gap, thus ^1 .
ence W
the primary interest is the h-direction momentum, Eq. (17). fh is
regarded as the wall friction force on a micro fluid element
between the discs and it can be given by 3.2. Validation of the model

Fh 2sw A In Ref. [27], Rice presented some experimental results of a Tesla


fh ¼ ¼ ð19Þ
qV qAb turbine, which is used to verify the one-dimensional model in this
where sw is the shear stress paper. The turbine was stated to have discs with an outer radius of
8.89 cm, an inner radius of 3.35 cm and a gap distance of 1.02 mm.
qv^ 2h 24 qv^ 2h 24 qv^ 2h 6lv^ h
sw ¼ f  ¼  ¼  ¼ ð20Þ Air was selected as the working fluid in this experimental research.
2 Re 2 qv h  2b=l 2
^ b In addition, the author declared that virtually all the pressure drop
v^ h is the relative velocity of the working fluid occurred in the nozzle. Thus, the exit of the nozzle was at atmo-
sphere pressure, which could determine the enthalpy drop in the
U1
v^ h ¼ v h  U ¼ v h  r ð21Þ nozzle and the velocity of the working fluid at the rotor inlet.
r1 The comparison of the experimental results and those predicted
322 J. Song et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 110 (2017) 318–326

properties of these working fluids are listed in Table 2, which are


obtained from REFPROP 9.1.
Thermodynamic analysis of the ORC system with different
working fluids is conducted. The simulation is carried out by a
computer program written by the authors in the FORTRAN envi-
ronment [28–30]. Several conditions and assumptions are given
below:

(1) the heat loss and the pressure loss of the pipelines in the
ORC system are ignored;
(2) the efficiency of the working fluid pump is set as 0.8;
(3) the Tesla turbine efficiency is calculated by the one-
dimensional model;
(4) the pinch point temperature differences of the evaporator
and the condenser are fixed at 6 K;
(5) the superheating degree of the working fluid at the inlet of
the Tesla turbine is set as 1 K;
^ 1 for a Tesla turbine with
Fig. 4. Prediction of the efficiency variation with X and W
(6) the condensation temperature of the working fluid is set as
n2 = 0.4 and n = 8000 rpm.
305 K.

by the one-dimensional model is listed in Table 1. The simulation 4.2. Results of the ORC system with different working fluids
results with Eq. (7) are consistent with the results in [21] because
they use the same model. Adopting the improved model with Eq. In this section, the outlet temperature of the hot water after
(10), the results become much better and agree well with the heat exchange is fixed at 338.15 K. Thus, the total heat load
experimental data. absorbed by the ORC system is constant, which only reaches about
32 kW. Thus, this ORC system can be categorized as a small scale
4. Results and discussion one. For each kind of the working fluids, the computer program
arrives to a proper evaporation temperature through continuous
4.1. Heat source condition and working fluid selection iteration, the heat load above which is utilized for evaporation
and below which is used for preheating the working fluid to the
The selected heat source is hot water, the mass flow rate and bubble point temperature.
the initial temperature of which are 0.5 t/h and 393.15 K, respec- Thermodynamic results of the ORC system with different work-
tively. According to the temperature level of the heat source, seven ing fluids are listed in Table 3, including the evaporation tempera-
organic fluids are selected as the working fluid candidates. The ture, the evaporation pressure, the mass flow rate of the working

Table 1
Comparison of the experimental and simulation results of the Tesla turbine.

Tin (K) Pin (kPa) n (rpm) _ (kg/s)


m X g (exp) g in [21] g (sim) g (sim)
Eq. (7) Eq. (10)
368 377 6300 0.00194 7.35 0.217 0.155 0.157 0.184
368 377 8500 0.00194 7.35 0.254 0.206 0.207 0.243
368 377 9200 0.00194 7.35 0.258 0.222 0.222 0.261

Table 2
Properties of the working fluid candidates.

Working fluid Molecular weight (g/mol) Normal boiling point (K) Critical temperature (K) Critical pressure (kPa) GWP ODP
R123 152.93 301.0 456.8 3661.8 120 0.012
R600 58.12 272.7 425.1 3796.0 20 0
R600a 58.12 261.4 407.8 3629.0 20 0
R236ea 152.04 279.3 412.4 3502.0 1350 0
R236fa 152.04 271.7 398.1 3200.0 9400 0
R245ca 134.05 298.3 477.6 3940.7 693 0
R245fa 134.05 288.3 427.2 3651.0 950 0

Table 3
Thermodynamic results of the ORC system with different working fluids.

Working fluid Evaporation temperature (K) Evaporation pressure (kPa) Mass flow rate of the working fluid (kg/s) Viscosity at the rotor inlet (lPas)
R123 343.8 383.8 0.17 11.4
R600 346.5 873.2 0.08 7.9
R600a 348.9 1230.0 0.08 8.0
R236ea 349.8 924.2 0.17 11.7
R236fa 352.1 1216.9 0.19 11.8
R245ca 345.8 469.9 0.14 15.9
R245fa 346.9 672.9 0.15 11.1
J. Song et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 110 (2017) 318–326 323

Table 4
Initial parameters for the Tesla turbine.

Parameter Symbol Value


Nozzle velocity coefficient u 0.9
Outer radius of the discs r1 100 mm
Inner radius of the discs r2 40 mm
Gap distance b 1 mm
Number of the gaps N 50
Rotational speed of the rotor n 8000 rpm

Fig. 5. Efficiency of the Tesla turbine with different working fluids.

fluid and the viscosity at the rotor inlet. The temperature grade of
the heat source is low, which results in low evaporation tempera-
ture of the working fluids. The difference among the evaporation
^ 1 of the Tesla turbine with different working fluids.
Fig. 6. Variations of Re⁄ and W
temperatures is relatively small. However, the evaporation pres-
sure and the mass flow rate of the working fluid vary much. The
viscosity of the working fluid has an influence on the effect
between the plate and the working fluid.
As for the Tesla turbine, several initial geometry parameters are
given according to some previous researches [21,23] and are listed
in Table 4. Using the aforementioned one-dimensional model, the
efficiencies of the Tesla turbine with each kind of the working flu-
ids are calculated. The results are shown in Fig. 5. The efficiency of
the Tesla turbine with R245ca reaches 0.387, the highest among all
the working fluids. The efficiencies of the Tesla turbine with R600
and R600a are considerably low, which are only 0.346 and 0.341,
respectively. There are non-ignorable efficiency differences among
the Tesla turbines with different working fluids, which confirms
that the working fluid properties and the thermodynamic parame-
ters have an influence on the turbine performance.
The two parameters, the dimensionless parameter X and the
dimensionless inlet tangential velocity difference W ^ 1 of the Tesla Fig. 7. Thermal performance of the ORC system with different working fluids.

turbine with different working fluids are calculated and compared,


the results of which are shown in Fig. 6. As for X, the Tesla turbine The net power output and the thermal efficiency of the ORC sys-
with R236fa is the highest, while those with R600 and R600a are tem are simulated with the calculated Tesla turbine efficiency. The
considerably low, which is mainly related to the mass flow rate results are shown in Fig. 7. Because the total heat load absorbed is
and the viscosity of the working fluid listed in Table 3. On the con- fixed, the thermal performance of the ORC system is directly deter-
trary, the Tesla turbines with R600 and R600a yield high dimen- mined by the turbine efficiency. With R245ca as the working fluid,
^ 1 and that with the turbine efficiency is the highest. Therefore, the ORC system
sionless inlet tangential velocity difference W
with R245ca yields the highest net power output and system ther-
R236fa is the lowest. It can be concluded that a higher evaporation
mal efficiency, which are 1.25 kW and 0.04, respectively.
pressure corresponds to a low expansion ratio and lower relative
velocity, thus lower W^ 1.
4.3. Results of ORC under different conditions (ORC system with
High Tesla turbine efficiency can be attained with low X and low
R245ca)
W^ 1 . The efficiency of the Tesla turbine with R236fa is higher than
that with R600 and R600a, which indicates that W ^ 1 has a more sig-
With R245ca as the working fluid, the Tesla turbine efficiency is
nificant influence on the turbine performance than X. Since the the highest among all the working fluids. R245ca is selected as the
Tesla turbine with R245ca has both moderate X and W^ 1 , it yields working fluid in this section. The outlet temperature of the heat
the highest efficiency. source is not fixed here to obtain different operating conditions.
324 J. Song et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 110 (2017) 318–326

(a) Variation of the outlet temperature of the hot water with ^ 1 with the evaporation temperature.
Fig. 9. Variations of Re⁄ and W
the evaporation temperature of the working fluid

(b) Variation of the mass flow rate of


R245ca with the evaporation temperature Fig. 10. Variations of the Tesla turbine efficiency with the evaporation temperature.

Fig. 8. Variations of the thermal parameters of the ORC system with R245ca.

The heat load absorbed by the ORC system varies with the out-
let temperature of the hot water. For each outlet temperature of
the hot water, a proper evaporation temperature of the ORC system
can be calculated by the computer program, which is still related to
the ratio of the latent heat to the sensible heat of the working fluid.
The thermodynamic results of the ORC system with R245ca as the
working fluid are shown in Fig. 8. Fig. 8a indicates that a higher
outlet temperature of the hot water corresponds to a higher evap-
oration temperature of the working fluid. It is evident that the total
heat load absorbed decreases with the increment of the outlet tem-
perature of the hot water, while the heat load required per unit
mass of the working fluid increases as the increasing evaporation
temperature. Thus, the mass flow rate of R245ca decreases defi- Fig. 11. Power output of the Tesla turbine under different operating conditions.
nitely when the evaporation temperature increases, as shown in
Fig. 8b.
The variations of X and W ^ 1 are still calculated to investigate
lowest turbine efficiency is attained at 0.379. The difference
their influence on the Tesla turbine efficiency. As shown in Fig. 9,
between the turbine efficiencies under 335 K and 370 K evapora-
with the increment of the evaporation temperature, X decreases
tion temperature conditions is nearly 0.05, which surely has a sig-
while W ^ 1 increases. High turbine efficiency can be attained with
nificant impact on the ORC system performance.
low X and low W ^ 1 . Thus, it is not easy to directly determine how
The power outputs of the Tesla turbine under different operat-
the turbine efficiency varies with the evaporation temperature. ing conditions are shown in Fig. 11. It increases first and then
The efficiency of the Tesla turbine with R245ca under different decreases with the increment of the evaporation temperature.
conditions is shown in Fig. 10. The turbine efficiency decreases first When the evaporation equals 350 K, the Tesla turbine yields the
and then increases with the increment of the evaporation temper- highest net power output at 1.31 kW. The power output of the
ature. When the evaporation temperature is lower than 335 K, the Tesla turbine is related to the mass flow rate of the working fluid
effect of increasing W ^ 1 dominates in the decreasing turbine effi- and the specific power output. A higher evaporation temperature
ciency. When the evaporation temperature is higher than 335 K, corresponds to a higher power output per unit mass of working
the effect of decreasing X dominates in the increasing turbine fluid and mass flow rate of working fluid directly affects the total
efficiency. When the evaporation temperature equals 335 K, the power output of the ORC system. As shown in Fig. 12, the mass
J. Song et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 110 (2017) 318–326 325

temperature. The system thermal efficiency reaches 0.043 when


the evaporation temperature is 350 K.

5. Conclusions

The Tesla turbine offers an attractive option for the expander


design in small scale ORC systems due to its simplicity and low
capital cost. This paper improves the one-dimensional model for
the Tesla turbine, which adopts a non-dimensional formulation
that identifies the dimensionless parameters that dictate perfor-
mance features of the turbine. Although the model embodies sev-
eral simplifying assumptions, its predictions are found to agree
reasonably well with available measured performance data for a
Tesla turbine from a previous research work. The model is used
Fig. 12. Working fluid mass flow rate and the specific power output of the Tesla to indicate the relationship between the turbine parameters and
turbine under different operating conditions. the turbine efficiency, which shows that the dimensionless param-
eter X and the dimensionless inlet tangential velocity difference
W^ 1 have a significant influence on the turbine performance. High
Tesla turbine efficiency is attained with low X and low W ^ 1.
This paper focuses on a small scale ORC system using a Tesla
turbine as the expander. For the heat source (hot water,
393.15 K, 0.5 t/h), when the outlet temperature is fixed at
338.15 K, the Tesla turbine with R245ca as the working fluid yields
the highest efficiency at 0.366, while the turbine efficiency with
R600 and R600a is considerably low, which are only 0.346 and
0.341, respectively. There are non-ignorable efficiency differences
among the Tesla turbines with different working fluids, which con-
firms that the working fluid properties and the thermodynamic
parameters have an influence on the Tesla turbine performance.
With R245ca as the working fluid, the ORC system yields the high-
est net power output and system thermal efficiency, which are
1.25 kW and 0.04, respectively.
Fig. 13. Variations of the power output of the ORC system with R245ca. With R245ca as the working fluid and outlet temperature of the
heat source not fixed, thermodynamic analysis of the ORC system
is conducted under different operating conditions. The Tesla tur-
bine efficiency decreases first and then increases with the incre-
ment of the evaporation temperature. The difference between the
turbine efficiencies under 335 K and 370 K evaporation tempera-
ture conditions is nearly 0.05, which surely has a significant impact
on the ORC system performance. When the evaporation equals
350 K, the ORC system yields the highest net power output at
1.27 kW and the corresponding system thermal efficiency reaches
0.043. This reveals that the ORC system with a Tesla turbine can
generate a considerable net power output and system thermal effi-
ciency in small scale applications. Therefore, the Tesla turbine can
be regarded as a potential choice in similar practical cases.

Acknowledgement
Fig. 14. Variations of the thermal efficiency of the ORC system with R245ca.
This research study was supported by the cooperative scientific
research project of energy conversion and emission reduction
among China-Europe enterprises (No. SQ2013ZOC200005).
flow rate of R245ca decreases while the specific power output
increases with the increment of the evaporation temperature,
which results in the trend of the turbine power output in Fig. 11. References
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