Low-temperature heat utilization can be applied to waste heat from industrial processes or renewable energy sources such as geothermal and ocean energy. The most common low-temperature waste-heat recovery technology is the organic Rankine cycle (ORC). However, the phase change of ORC working fluid for the heat extraction process causes a pinch-point problem, and the heat recovery cannot be efficiently used. To improve heat extraction and power generation, this study explored the cycle characteristics of the trilateral flash cycle (TFC) in a low-temperature heat source. A pinch-point-based methodology was developed for studying the optimal design point and operating conditions and for optimizing working fluid evaporation temperature and mass flow rate. According to the simulation results, the TFC system can recover more waste heat than ORC under the same operating conditions. The net power output of the TFC was approximately 30% higher than ORC but at a cost of higher pump power consumption. Additionally, the TFC was superior to ORC with an extremely low-temperature heat source (<80 °C), and the ideal efficiency was approximately 3% at the highest work output condition. The TFC system is economically beneficial for waste-heat recovery for low-temperature heat sources.
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