Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) power systems are nowadays an option for local and domestic cogeneration of heat and electric power. Very interesting are micropower systems for heat recovery from low potential (40–90 °C) waste and renewable heat sources. Designing an ORC system dedicated to heat recovery from such a source is very difficult. Most important problems are connected with the selection of a suitable expander. Volumetric machines, such as scroll and screw expanders, are adopted as turbine alternative in small-power ORC systems. However, these machines are complicated and expensive. Vane expanders on the other hand are simple and cheap. This paper presents a theoretical and experimental analysis of the operation of a micro-ORC rotary vane expander under variable heat source temperature conditions. The main objective of this research was therefore a comprehensive analysis of relation between the vane expander output power and the heat source temperature. A series of experiments was performed using the micropower ORC test-stand. Results of these experiments are presented here, together with a mathematical description of multivane expanders. The analysis presented in this paper indicates that the output power of multivane expanders depend on the heat source temperature, and that multivane expanders are cheap alternatives to other expanders proposed for micropower ORC systems.
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