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Laboratory Scale Steam Power Plant Study — Rankine Cycler™ Comprehensive Experimental Analysis

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Developments in the Energy Laboratories

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1002.1 - 12.1002.33



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Paper Authors


Andrew Gerhart Lawrence Technological University

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Andrew Gerhart is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Lawrence Technological University. He is actively involved in ASEE, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Engineering Society of Detroit. He serves as Faculty Advisor for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Student Chapter at LTU and is the Thermal-Fluids Laboratory Coordinator. He serves on the ASME PTC committee on Air-Cooled Condensers.

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Philip Gerhart University of Evansville

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Philip Gerhart is the Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science and a professor of mechanical and civil engineering at the University of Evansville in Indiana. He is a member of the ASEE Engineering Deans Council. He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and serves on their Board on Performance Test Codes. He chairs the PTC committee on Steam Generators and is vice-chair of the committee on Fans.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Laboratory-Scale Steam Power Plant Study – Rankine Cycler™ Comprehensive Experimental Analysis


The Rankine Cycler™ steam turbine system, produced by Turbine Technologies, Ltd., is a table- top-sized working model of a fossil-fueled steam power plant. It is a tool for hands-on teaching of fundamentals of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and instrumentation systems in an undergraduate laboratory.

Inevitably, when a power generation plant is scaled-down and it has few efficiency-enhancing components (e.g., feedwater heaters), energy losses in components will be magnified, substantially lowering the cycle efficiency from values presented in textbooks and realized in real world power plants. Therefore, faculty and students at two different universities undertook a study of the Rankine Cycler to determine its effectiveness as a pedagogical tool and to characterize the device with a comprehensive experimental analysis. This analysis can be useful to faculty and students who use the equipment and can also be useful to potential customers of Turbine Technologies.

This is the authors’ third and final paper about the Rankine Cycler, continuing the work started in 2004-05. In the first paper two important objectives were met. First, to determine the effectiveness of the Rankine Cycler as a learning tool, an indirect assessment was performed (i.e., a measure of student opinion). The results were positive. Second, a parametric study of the effects of component losses on Rankine Cycler thermal efficiency was performed. The results showed that the range of component losses used in the parametric study accurately reflect experimental thermal efficiencies for the device, and pointed to future experimental work.

In the second paper, two further objectives were met. First, assessment of the RC’s effectiveness as a learning tool was continued. The indirect assessment was extended through more student surveys, and a more direct assessment was performed based on graded student reports and exams. Assessment results were positive and pointed toward how the equipment can be used in the best possible manner in the undergraduate curriculum. Second, experimental work performed to characterize the Rankine Cycler was reported. Multiple steady state runs were performed to seek the optimum operating point and methods for measuring steam flow more accurately were proposed.

For this paper, significant experimental work was concluded to further characterize the Rankine Cycler. First, more steady state runs were performed at higher voltages than previous tests to determine an optimum operating point. Second, a method for accurate steam flow measurement was developed. Third, the fuel (LP) flow calibration was verified. Fourth, the turbine and generator were studied to discover discrepancies in power output. Finally, boiler efficiency is discussed along with some recommendations.

Gerhart, A., & Gerhart, P. (2007, June), Laboratory Scale Steam Power Plant Study — Rankine Cycler™ Comprehensive Experimental Analysis Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1918

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