A sensitivity study was conducted for three typical expander-based transcritical CO2
cycles with the developed simulation model, and the sensitivities of the maximum coefficient of performance (COP) to the key operating parameters, including the inlet pressure of gas cooler, the temperatures at evaporator inlet and gas cooler outlet, the inter-stage pressure and the isentropic efficiency of expander, were obtained. The results showed that the sensitivity to the gas cooler inlet pressure differs greatly before and after the optimal gas cooler inlet pressure. The sensitivity to the intercooler outlet temperature in the two-stage cycles increases sharply to near zero and then keeps almost constant at intercooler outlet temperature of higher than 45 °C. However, the sensitivity stabilizes near zero when the evaporator inlet temperature is very low of −26.1 °C. In two-stage compression with an intercooler and an expander assisting in driving the first-stage compressor (TEADFC) cycle, an abrupt change in the sensitivity of maximum COP to the inter-stage pressure was observed, but disappeared after intercooler outlet temperature exceeds 50 °C. The sensitivity of maximum COP to the expander isentropic efficiency increases almost linearly with the expander isentropic efficiency.
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