Conventional Organic Rankine Cycles (ORCs) using ambient air as their coolant cannot fully utilize the greater temperature differential available to them during the colder months. However, changing the working fluid composition so its boiling temperature matches the ambient temperature as it changes has been shown to have potential to increase year-round electricity generation. Previous research has assumed that the cycle pressure ratio is able to vary without a major loss in the isentropic efficiency of the turbine. This paper investigates if small scale ORC systems that normally use positive-displacement expanders with fixed expansion ratios could also benefit from this new concept. A numerical model was firstly established, based on which a comprehensive analysis was then conducted. The results showed that it can be applied to systems with positive-displacement expanders and improve their year-round electricity generation. However, such an improvement is less than that of the systems using turbine expanders with variable expansion ratios. Furthermore, such an improvement relies on heat recovery via the recuperator. This is because expanders with a fixed expansion ratio have a relatively constant pressure ratio between their inlet and outlet. The increase of pressure ratio between the evaporator and condenser by tuning the condensing temperature to match colder ambient condition in winter cannot be utilised by such expanders. However, with the recuperator in place, the higher discharging temperature of the expander could increase the heat recovery and consequently reduce the heat input at the evaporator, increasing the thermal efficiency and the specific power. The higher the amount of heat energy transferred in the recuperator, the higher the efficiency improvement.
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