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Laboratory Scale Steam Power Plant Study Rankine Cycler Effectiveness As A Learning Tool And A Comprehensive Experimental Analysis

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Energy Laboratory Development

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.862.1 - 11.862.30



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Paper Authors


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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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 is on the ASME PTC committee on Air-Cooled Condensers.

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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 CyclerTM Effectiveness as a Learning Tool and a 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 widely used by engineering colleges around the world.

This is the second 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, and pointed to future experimental work.

For this paper, two more objectives are met, contributing to the conclusions and recommendations from the first paper. First, a direct assessment (and further indirect assessment) of the Rankine Cycler as a learning tool is performed. Student’s laboratory reports were evaluated, so that ultimately the equipment can be used in the undergraduate curriculum in the best possible manner.

Inevitably, when a power generation plant is scaled-down and it has few efficiency-enhancing components (e.g. lack of feedwater heaters, etc.), energy losses in components will be magnified, substantially decreasing the cycle efficiency. Although the Rankine Cycler is a useful tool for teaching fundamentals of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and instrumentation systems in an undergraduate laboratory, a comprehensive analysis of the equipment had not been completed. This analysis can be useful to faculty and students who use the equipment and can also be useful to potential customers of Turbine Technologies. Therefore, as a second objective, faculty and students at two different universities have continued a comprehensive analysis of the Rankine Cycler. Significant experimental work was performed to characterize the Rankine Cycler. Multiple steady state runs were performed to determine the optimum operating point (i.e., load at which turbine/generator performance is optimum). Also, methods for accurately measuring steam flow were studied. Finally, future work is outlined to complete a characterization of the Rankine Cycler.

Gerhart, P., & Gerhart, A. (2006, June), Laboratory Scale Steam Power Plant Study Rankine Cycler Effectiveness As A Learning Tool And A Comprehensive Experimental Analysis Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--388

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