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Energy Conversion and Management 151 (2017) 681–692

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Energy Conversion and Management

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/enconman

Parabolic trough solar collectors integrated with a Kalina cycle for high MARK
temperature applications: Energy, exergy and economic analyses

V. Zare , A. Moalemian
Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Urmia University of Technology, Urmia, Iran


Keywords: As a promising option for future power generation is the concentrating solar power systems with various types,
Economic analysis among which Parabolic Trough Solar Collectors (PTSC) are the most proven technology with lowest cost
Exergy analysis available today. Benefits of this renewable energy source are challenged by means of relatively low energy
Kalina cycle conversion efficiency. To overcome the dilemma, one approach is employing an efficient thermodynamic power
Parabolic trough collectors
cycle in order to enhance the overall power plant efficiency. The Kalina cycle (KC) is considered as an efficient
Solar energy
alternative over the conventional or organic Rankine cycles in last few years. In the present work, the integration
of a novel configuration of the KC, which is proper for utilizing high temperature heat sources, with PTSC is
proposed and analyzed. Thermal, thermodynamic and economic models are developed to investigate the in-
tegrated system performance from the viewpoints of energy, exergy and economics. The results indicate that,
exergy efficiencies of around 64% is achievable for power cycle unit while the overall power plant exergy
efficiency reaches to around 14%. The results of economic analysis revealed that if a lower LCOE is to be reached
increment of the number of collectors per row is more beneficial than the increment of parallel rows of the

1. Introduction [11] performed an exergy analysis to investigate the effects of opera-

tional and environmental parameters on the performance of PTCs, who
Among renewable energy resources, the solar one has received more found that the highest exergy destruction occurs due to the heat transfer
and more attention in recent years as it is an inexhaustible, safe and between the sun and the absorber. A novel thermal model for PTCs is
clean energy. Over the last decade lots of research works have been developed by Behar et al. [12] and validated using experimental data
devoted to analyze and discuss on different aspects, types and appli- available from Sandia National Laboratory (SNL) tests with an average
cations of solar energy systems. Solar PV/T systems [1,2], application uncertainty of 0.64%. Guo and Huai [9] employed a multi-objective
of solar energy for air-conditioning systems [3–5], comprehensive stu- optimization to investigate the PTCs based on energy and exergy ana-
dies on solar thermal power generation [6,7] and analyzing Con- lyses and concluded that the exergy efficiency of the collector’s field can
centrating Solar Power technologies (CSP) [8] have been considered in be increased at the expense of heat losses from receiver.
relevant scientific literature. Among different CSP technologies, Para- With regards to various power generation units integrated with
bolic Trough Collectors (PTC) are the most mature and common sys- PTCs a number of papers are published recently. Regarding the avail-
tems which have been successfully employed in many places around the able heat source temperature from PTC (up to 400 °C [14]) Organic
world [9]. Rankine Cycles (ORCs) and Kalina cycles (KCs) are two proper choices
The first solar electricity generation system is built in California in for power generation in this case and a lot of research papers are
1980s, since then researches on these systems have experienced great published on investigating ORC-based solar power plants. The perfor-
impetus investigating both the solar field and the power generation mance of a low temperature regenerative ORC derived by PTCs is
unit. Thermal modeling and simulation of PTCs is recently conducted evaluated by Gang et al. [15], who indicated that the overall electrical
by some researchers [10–13], who investigated different aspects of efficiency of about 8.6% for a solar irradiation of 750 W/m2 is
these systems from various perspectives. A detailed thermal model of a achievable. They also examined their proposed system performance for
PTC is presented by Kalogiro [10] using Engineering Equation Solver different selected areas and assessed the influences of important oper-
(EES) and taking into account all modes of heat transfer. Padilla et al. ating parameters on its performance [16]. Quoilin et al. [17] conducted

Corresponding author.
E-mail address: v.zare@uut.ac.ir (V. Zare).

Received 8 July 2017; Received in revised form 22 August 2017; Accepted 9 September 2017
Available online 18 September 2017
0196-8904/ © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
V. Zare, A. Moalemian Energy Conversion and Management 151 (2017) 681–692

Nomenclature Greek symbols

A surface area (m2) σ Stefane–Boltzmann constant

Dpi inside receiver pipe diameter (m) εgi glass envelope emissivity
Dpo outside receiver pipe diameter (m) εgo emissivity of the glass envelope outside surface
Dgi inside glass envelope diameter (m) ηex second law efficiency
Dgo outside glass envelope diameter (m) ηP pump isentropic efficiency
Ė exergy rate (kW) ηT turbine isentropic efficiency
fpi fraction factor of the receiver pipe inside ηth thermal efficiency
h convection heat transfer coefficient (W/m2 K). Specific
enthalpy (kJ/kg) Subscripts and abbreviations
k thermal conductivity (W/m K)
hf HTF convection heat transfer coefficient at Tf (W/m2 K) AWM ammonia–water mixture
ṁ mass flow rate (kg/s) CD condenser
Nu Nusselt number CSP Concentrating Solar Power
Pr Prandtl number DNI Direct Normal Irradiance
P pressure (bar) HTF Heat Transfer Fluid
Q̇ heat transfer rate (kW) EV evaporator
s specific entropy (kJ/kg K) KC Kalina cycle
T temperature (°C or K) MX mixer
Tf mean (bulk) temperature of HTF (°C or K) ORC Organic Rankine Cycle
Tpi receiver pipe inside surface temperature (°C or K) P pump
Tpo receiver pipe outside surface temperature (°C or K) PP power plant
Tgi inside glass envelope surface temperature (°C or K) PTC parabolic trough collector
Tgo outside glass envelope surface temperature (°C or K) PTSC parabolic trough solar collectors
Ẇ power (kW) RE recuperator
X ammonia mass fraction SEP separator
SPL splitter

a thermodynamic analysis of a small scale ORC integrated with PTC for which four different nano-fluids are used to enhance heat transfer in the
a rural location in Berea District of Lesotho, South Africa. Their results collector system, is evaluated by Toghyani et al. [26] using energy and
showed that an overall electrical efficiency between 7 and 8% can be exergy analyses. Their results showed that, the overall exergy efficiency
reached for a steady state operating condition at a nominal working of the system when nano-particles are employed can be increased by
point. He et al. [18] modeled and analyzed the performance of an ORC almost 3–11%. Desai and Bandyopadhyay [27,28] analyzed and com-
integrated with PTC for three organic working fluids including: R113, pared thermo-economic performance of organic and steam Rankine
R123, and pentane and concluded that pentane yields the highest cycles powered by parabolic trough collectors and linear Fresnel re-
thermal efficiency. The performance of conventional steam Rankine flectors. They compared different working fluids performance for ORC
cycle and combined steam Rankine with ORC, from energy and exergy and concluded that, amongst 12 working fluids for ORC, R113 can
viewpoints, is analyzed and compared by Al-sulaiman [19,20], who achieve the lowest LCOE with a value of 0.344 $/kWh. The perfor-
reported that the main source of exergy destruction is the solar col- mance of a 1 MWe grid-connected solar thermal power plant with PTC
lector. Chacartegui et al. [21] analyzed the performance of a 5 MW is analyzed by Desai et al. [29,30] from the viewpoints of thermo-
parabolic trough plant integrated with an ORC power block with two dynamics and economics. They investigated the effects of turbine inlet
different thermal storage systems. They showed that, the indirect sto- pressure, temperature, solar radiation, plant size, and various cycle
rage layout is the most interesting from the viewpoint of LEC (16.19 c configurations on overall efficiency and LCOE and reported an esti-
€/kW) and productivity (28.2 GWh/y for a 5 MWe plant) for 10 h of mated minimum LCOE of about 18.8 ¢/kWh.
storage. Casartelli et al. [22] analyzed the performance of a 5 MWe The Kalina cycle (KC) is introduced as an ambitious competitor
ORC power plant with PTC for different heat source temperatures and against the ORC for power generation from low and medium tem-
found that toluene is the most suitable working fluid for temperature perature heat sources and recently applied for different applications
levels close to 400 °C for which a levelized cost of electricity of 180 €/ such as geothermal power plants and industrial waste heat recovery
MWh is calculated. A pilot PTC with a design output of 650 kWth in- [31]. Rodríguez et al. [32] compared the exergetic and economic per-
tegrated with an ORC is constructed in Louisiana during 2012 and is formance of a KC and an ORC for a low temperature geothermal power
evaluated under various local weather conditions by Chambers et al. plant and reported that the KC generates 18% more power than the
[23]. Their results indicated a thermal efficiency of about 7–8% for the ORC with 17.8% lower levelized electricity cost. A comparison between
ORC power plant at an average Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI) of different power cycles for medium temperature geothermal resources is
800 W/m2. Borunda et al. [24] proposed a PTC system coupled with an presented by Coskun et al. [33], who found that the KC and the double
ORC for cogeneration of heat and power applied to a textile industrial flash cycle provide the least levelized cost of electricity. The perfor-
process at medium temperature. Design and thermodynamic modeling mance of a KC driven by PTC for low temperature heat sources (a
of a solar plant with PTC and an ORC unit, being installed in Lesotho, is turbine inlet temperature of 106 °C) is analyzed by Wang et al. [34]
developed by Quoilin et al. [17] based on experimental data. Using real who conducted a parametric analysis from the viewpoint of first law of
expander efficiency curves, they showed that an overall electrical effi- thermodynamics to examine the effects of some key thermodynamic
ciency between 7 and 8% is achievable. A simplified transient modeling parameters on the system performance and reported an optimized
of an ORC coupled to PTCs is conducted by Bamgbopa and Uzgoren system efficiency of 8.54%. Later for this configuration of the KC,
[25], who aimed to assess the ORC response to heat input variations. Ashouri et al. [35] performed an economic analysis and reported that
The performance of an integrated steam Rankine cycle with PTC, in under a typical operating conditions, the system has a levelized cost of

V. Zare, A. Moalemian Energy Conversion and Management 151 (2017) 681–692

electricity of 0.4274 $/kW with a solar-to-electricity exergy efficiency (450 °C) and pressure (over 100 bar). In another study, they compared
of 5.24%. Energy and exergy analyses of the Kalina cycle system 11 four different layouts of the KC based on the number and/or placement
(KSC11) integrated with parabolic solar collectors, for a turbine inlet of the recuperators and optimized their performance for maximum
temperature of 130 °C, is performed by Sun et al. [36]. They reported a thermal efficiency for a turbine inlet temperature of 500 °C [41].
maximum generated power of 491 kW with an exergy efficiency of A comprehensive literature review explained above reveals that the
35.6% and energy efficiency of 6.48% for the month of August. scientific literature lacks about application and investigation of the KC
Regarding the employment of the KC for higher temperature heat performance for solar power plants with PTCs for high turbine inlet
sources (350–550 °C) some researches have been conducted indicating temperatures (up to 400 °C which can be provided by the PTCs). In the
the better performance of the KC over the Rankine cycle [37–39]. For a present paper, a novel configuration of the KC which can efficiently
turbine inlet temperature of 482 °C, Ibrahim and Kovach [37] showed utilize the high temperature heat source available from PTCs field is
that the KC is 10–20% more efficient than the Rankine cycle with the employed and energy, exergy and economic analyses of the integrated
same boundary conditions. Modi and Haglind [40] proposed and ana- system are performed to evaluate the technical performance and to
lyzed the performance of a KC for direct steam generation central re- assess the LCOE. The considered KC configuration (KCS123), is recently
ceiver solar thermal power plant with high live steam temperature introduced by Modi et al. [41] for high temperature applications. A

Fig. 1. Schematic diagram of the considered system (a); T-s diagram of the Kalina cycle (b).

V. Zare, A. Moalemian Energy Conversion and Management 151 (2017) 681–692

thermal model to simulate the PTC field is presented and a detailed 4. The isentropic efficiency for the turbine and pumps are assumed to
thermodynamic performance assessment of the KCS123 coupled to be 85% and 70%, respectively [41].
PTCs is conducted. The effects of key variables on the PTCs field and the 5. Heat losses from the system components are neglected.
overall system performance are examined via the parametric study 6. Thermal oil is considered as an incompressible fluid.
using the Engineering Equation Solver (EES) software.
3. System modeling and analysis
2. System description and assumptions
3.1. Thermal modeling of PTC
The schematic of the considered system consisting of PTC field
coupled to KCS123, as the power generation unit, is shown in Fig. 1(a) The approach used in this paper to simulate thermal performance of
and the T-s diagram of the Kalina cycle is presented in Fig. 1(b). Three the PTCs is adapted from Kalogirou [10]. The model is used to de-
recuperators are employed in the KCS123 to increase internal heat re- termine the useful heat gained by the receiver tube of the collectors and
covery and to enhance the overall system efficiency. As illustrated in exit temperature of the HTF leaving the PTCs system. A cross-section of
Fig. 1(a), in the considered system several numbers of PTCs in series the collector system, showing the glass cover and receiver tube, and its
and parallel with specified sizes and characteristics (as given in Table 3) thermal resistance model are illustrated in Fig. 2.
are used to heat up the Syltherm-800 as the Heat Transfer Fluid (HTF) According to the nomenclature given in Fig. 2 and using Newton’s
to temperatures of up to 400 °C and then its thermal energy is trans- law of cooling, the convection heat transfer from the inside surface of
ferred to the ammonia–water mixture (AWM) in the evaporator. The the receiver pipe to the HTF can be expressed as [10]:
superheated AWM (state 1) expands through the turbine and goes to the
mixer 1 (MX1) after passing the recuperators 1 and 2 (RE1 and RE2). In Qḟ − pi,conv = hf πDpi (Tpi−Tf ) (1)
the MX1 it gets mixed with the ammonia lean liquid from the separator
to reduce the ammonia mass fraction in the condenser 1 (CD1). The where, the convection heat transfer coefficient at the inside pipe dia-
mixed fluid exiting the MX1 is called the basic solution (state 5). After meter, hf is given by:
passing the condenser and pump, a part of the basic solution goes to the
Kf ⎞
splitter (SPL) (state 9) where it is separated into vapor and liquid hf = Nu Dpi ⎜⎛ ⎟
⎝ pi ⎠ (2)
streams. The remaining part of the basic solution (state 8) is mixed with
the ammonia rich vapor coming from the separator in the MX2 to form
For the convective heat transfer from the receiver pipe to the HTF
the working fluid again. This working fluid (state 15) goes through the
the following Nusselt number correlation is used [10]:
CD2 and pump 2 to attain the high pressure required at the turbine
inlet. The high-pressure AWM exiting the pump 2 goes to the turbine f pi
⎛ ⎛⎜ ⎞ ⎞
after passing through the RE3, RE1 and EV. ( 8 ( Re Dpi − 1000 ) Pr f ) ⎟ 0.11

The following assumptions are made in the present study:

Nu Dpi = ⎜

f pi 2
⎜⎜ ⎜1 + 12.7 8 ((Prf ) 3 − 1) ⎟ ⎟⎟
⎠ ⎟

( )

⎝⎝ ⎠⎠
1. The system works under steady state conditions. fpi = (1.82log (Re Dpi)−1.64)−2 (3)
2. Changes of kinetic and potential energies and exergies are ne-
glected. All fluid properties except Prpi are evaluated at the mean HTF
3. The pressure losses in the pipelines and heat exchangers of the KC temperature (Tf ) . The Fourier’s law determines conduction heat transfer
are neglected [41]. through the receiver pipe wall as follows [10]:

Fig. 2. Cross-section of the collector (a) and its thermal resistance

model (b) [10].

V. Zare, A. Moalemian Energy Conversion and Management 151 (2017) 681–692

⎛ ⎞ 3.2. Thermodynamic analysis

2πkpipe (Tpo−Tpi )
̇ − po,cond = ⎜
Qpi ⎟

Ln D

( ) (4)
For thermodynamic analysis of the overall system including PTC
field coupled to KC, thermodynamic models are developed for each of
the system components which are considered as control volumes under
where, kpipe is the receiver pipe thermal conductivity which is evaluated
steady state conditions. For such a control volume, the energy and
at the average receiver pipe temperature. Between the receiver pipe and
exergy balance equations are expressed as:
the glass envelope heat transfer occurs by convection and radiation. In
determination of the convection heat transfer, the case of vacuum in the QĊ . V −WĊ . V + ∑ ṁ in hin− ∑ ṁ out hout = 0 (12)
annulus is assumed for which the convection heat transfer occurs by
free-molecular convection and is given by [10]: EḊ = Ein
̇ −Eout
̇ (13)
̇ − gi,conv = πDpo hpo − gi (Tpo−Tgi )
Qpo where, EḊ is the exergy destruction rate within the component and Eiṅ
̇ denote for the total exergy rates entering and exiting the
and Eout
hpo − gi =
⎛⎛ ⎞ ⎞ control volume.
⎜⎜ Dpo ⎟ ⎛ ⎛ ⎛ Dpo ⎞ ⎞⎞⎟ Simulation of the considered system and calculation of the perfor-
⎜⎜ D ⎟ + ⎜bλ ⎜ ⎜ Dgi ⎟ + 1⎟ ⎟ ⎟
gi ⎞
⎜⎜ ⎜ 2Ln ⎛⎜ ⎟⎟ ⎝ ⎝⎝ ⎠ ⎠⎠⎟
⎟ mance parameters are carried out for a given number of solar collectors.
⎝⎝ ⎝ Dpo ⎠ ⎠ ⎠ (5) To model the heat exchangers including evaporator, recuperators and
For the radiation heat transfer between the receiver pipe and the condensers, the pinch point assessment is an important factor on which
glass envelope the following equation is used: the cycle’ performance depend. The heat exchangers performances are
assessed by fixing the pinch point (or minimum temperature difference)
σπDpo ((Tpo) 4−(Tgi ) 4) temperature difference of heat transferring streams within the heat
̇ − gi,rad =
exchangers, as demonstrated by Fig. 3 for the case of evaporator.

( )+(
(1 − εgi ) Dpo
εgi Dgi ) ⎞⎠ (6) For the system under consideration in the present work, regarding
the fact that the kinetic and potential exergy effects are ignored, the
The conduction heat transfer through the glass envelope is calcu- flow exergy rate of a stream of matter is composed of the physical and
lated by [10]: chemical exergies. The physical exergy is expressed as:
2πk glass (Tgi−Tgo ) ̇ = ṁ [(h−h 0 )−T0 (s−s0 )]
Eph (14)
Q̇gi − go,cond =
Ln ( )
Dgi (7) The chemical exergy for the ammonia–water mixture may be ex-
pressed as [42]:
where, k glass is assumed as a constant value of 0.78 W/m K [12]. From
the glass envelope to the atmosphere, the heat transfer occurs by con- e0 e0
̇ = ṁ ⎜⎛X ch,NH 3 + (1−X ) ch,H 2O ⎞⎟
vection and radiation. The convection heat transfer would either be ⎝ MNH 3 MH 2O ⎠ (15)
forced or natural depending on whether there is wind or not. The ra-
diation heat loss occurs due to the temperature difference between the where X denotes for ammonia fraction in the solution and and
ech,NH 3
glass surface and sky. The convection heat transfer, for the case of ex- ech,H 2O are the standard chemical exergies of ammonia and water, re-
istence of wind which is assumed in the present work, can be estimated spectively.
from Newton’s law of cooling as follows: The relations used for the first and second law analysis of the system
components are given in Table 2. All of these relations along with the
Q̇go − a,conv = hgo − a πDgo (Tgo−Ta) equations of PTC thermal model are introduced into a computer pro-
gram, the solution of which simulates the system performance.
hgo − a = ( ) Nu
k air
Dgo Dgo
(8) For the proposed solar power plant the overall first and second law
(energy and exergy) efficiencies are defined as the ratio of net output
where, the Nusselt number in this case is estimated with Zhukauskas power to the thermal energy and exergy input associated with the solar
correlation for external forced convection flow by [10]: irradiation on the PTC field [43]:
m (Pr ) n ⎛ Pra ⎞ 4 ηth,PP =
Nu Dgo = C Re Dgo ( ) a ⎜ ⎟ ̇
Qsun (16)
⎝ Prgo ⎠ (9)
The values of constants in this equation can be found in Ref. [10]. ηex ,PP =
Einput ,sun (17)
The net radiation heat transfer between the glass envelope and sky is
caused by the temperature difference between the glass cover and the
,sun is the input exergy to the solar field which is a function
where, Einput
sky and is given by:
of the solar irradiation intensity and total aperture area as follows [20]:
Q̇go − s,rad = σεgo πDgo (Tgo
−Ts4 ) (10) 4
̇ ⎛ 1 ⎛ T0 ⎞ 4 ⎛ T0 ⎞ ⎞
Einput ,sun = Aap,total × (DNI ) × ⎜1 + ⎜ ⎟ − ⎜ ⎟
where, Ts denotes for the effective sky temperature which is approxi- 3 ⎝ Tapp ⎠ 3 ⎝ Tapp ⎠ ⎟ (18)
⎝ ⎠
mated as Tambient −8(°C) .
The collector’s thermal efficiency can be defined as [9]:
Table 1
Composition and basic properties of Syltherm-800.
Q̇gain ṁ (h −h )
ηth,collector = = 24 24 26
Qinputsun ̇
Qinputsun (11) Composition Dimethyl polysiloxane

where, Q̇gain denotes the useful heat absorbed by the HTF inside the Freezing point (°C) −60.15
̇ Density (@ 25 °C) (kg/m3) 930.7
receiver’s tube and Qinputsun is the total received thermal energy on the
Normal boiling point (°C) 202.4
collector surface. The main properties and characteristics of Syltherm- Specific heat (@ 25 °C) (kJ/kg K) 1.617
800 as the HTF are given in Table 1.

V. Zare, A. Moalemian Energy Conversion and Management 151 (2017) 681–692

Table 3a
Cost functions and data used to calculate the capital cost of the system components

Component Capital cost

Solar collector 150"$"/ m2

HTF and hydraulic 90"$"/ m2
Turbine 576.1
F ·C 0
397 BM ,T T
logCT = K1,T + K2,T ·logẆT + K3,T ·(logẆT )2
Heat exchangers 576.1 0
(B1,HE + B2,HE ·FBM ,HE )·CHE
logCHE = K1,HE + K2,HE ·logAHE + K3,HE ·(logAHE )2
Separator Zsep = 5.93Csep0

lnCsep = 3.49 + 0.448lnVsep + 0.107(lnVsep)2Vsep = 81.24Di3
Pump 576.1
(B1,P + B2,P . FBM ,P )·CP0
Fig. 3. Illustration of pinch point assessment in evaporator modeling. logCP = K1,P + K2,P . logẆP + K3,P ·(logẆP )2

where, Tapp denotes the apparent sun temperature as the equivalent heat
where, Zinvestment is the total investment cost of the plant ($), ZO & M is the
source temperature for exergy analysis [43,44].
annual operating and maintenance costs ($) and PGnet denotes for the
For the considered KC as the power generation unit which converts
annual net power generation by the power plant. Also, CRF is the ca-
the thermal energy absorbed in evaporator to mechanical power, the
pital recovery factor calculated as:
cycle efficiency can be defined as:
i. (1 + i)n
ηth,cycle = net (1 + i)n−1 (22)
Q̇EV (19)
where, i is the interest rate and n is the number of years of the plant
Wnet operation. The interest rate and the number of operation years in this
ηex ,cycle =
̇ −E25
E24 ̇ (20) work is assumed to be 8% and 25 years.
̇ −E25
where (E24 ̇ ) represents the useful exergy input to the Kalina cycle. To calculate the total investment cost of the plant the cost of in-
dividual components should be evaluated. The plant considered in this
3.3. Economic analysis paper can be divided into two subsystems; namely solar field and Kalina
cycle. The data and formulas to calculate the capital cost of each
The economic investigation is conducted here to estimate the component of the subsystems are outlined in Tables 3a and 3b).
Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) generated by the considered solar The annual levelized operation and maintenance cost for a system
power plant. It is well known that the LCOE is the most commonly used composes of two types of expenditures; fixed and variable costs. The
indicator to assess the feasibility of any solar thermal power plant and fixed costs includes all the costs for operating labor, maintenance labor,
to compare different power generation technologies [45]. The LCOE maintenance materials, administration and support, distribution and
can be calculated as [35,45]: marketing and etc., while the variable costs includes the costs of che-
micals, catalysts, raw water, etc. The variable cost is dependent on total
CRF . Zinvestment + ZO & M annual working hours of the system. In analyzing thermal systems’
PGnet (21) performance, usually total operating and maintenance costs of the plant

Table 2
Energy and exergy relations used in the system analysis.

Component Energy equation Exergy equation

Solar field Q̇gain,field = ṁ 24 (h24−h26) ̇

Einput ̇ = E24
,sun + E26 ̇ + EḊ ,field
Solar pump ηPump =
v 25 (P26 − P25) ̇ + ẆPump = E26
E25 ̇ + EḊ ,Pump
wa h26 − h25
ẆPump = ṁ 25 (h26−h25)
Evaporator Q̇EV = ṁ 24 (h24−h25) = ṁ 1 (h1−h19) ̇ + E19
E24 ̇ = E1̇ + E25
̇ + EḊ ,EV
Turbine ẆT = ṁ 1 (h1−h2) E1̇ = E2̇ + ẆT + EḊ ,T
wa h1 − h2
ηT = =
ws h1 − h2s
Recuperator 1 (h2−h3) = (h19−h18) E2̇ + E18
̇ = E3̇ + E19
̇ + EḊ ,RE1
Recuperator 3 ṁ 11 (h11−h12) = ṁ 17 (h18−h17) ̇ + E17
E11 ̇ = E12
̇ + E18
̇ + EḊ ,RE 3
Separator ṁ 10 h10 = ṁ 11 h11 + ṁ 13 h13 E10̇ = E11
̇ + E13̇ + EḊ ,SEP
Recuperator 2 ṁ 3 (h3−h4 ) = ṁ 9 (h10−h9) E3̇ + E9̇ = E4̇ + E10
̇ + EḊ ,RE 2
Condenser 2 ṁ 15 (h15−h16) = ṁ 22 (h23−h22) ̇ + E22
E15 ̇ = E16̇ + E23̇ + EḊ ,CD2
Mixer 1 ṁ 4 h4 + ṁ 14 h14 = ṁ 5 h5 E4̇ + E14
̇ = E5̇ + EḊ ,MX 1
Condenser 1 ṁ 5 (h5−h6) = ṁ 21 (h21−h20) E5̇ + E20
̇ = E6̇ + E21̇ + EḊ ,CD1
Pump 1 ηPump1 =
v6 (P 7 − P6) E6̇ + ẆPump1 = E7̇ + EḊ ,Pump1
wa h7 − h6
ẆPump1 = ṁ 6 (h7−h6)
Splitter ṁ 7 h7 = ṁ 9 h9 + ṁ 8 h8 E7̇ = E8̇ + E9̇ + EḊ ,SPL
Mixer 2 ṁ 8 h8 + ṁ 12 h12 = ṁ 15 h15 E8̇ + E12
̇ = E15 ̇ + EḊ ,MX 2

V. Zare, A. Moalemian Energy Conversion and Management 151 (2017) 681–692

Table 3b collectors per row (Nperrow ), number of parallel rows (Nparallel ), solar ir-
Constants for components’ cost functions. radiance (DNI ) , turbine inlet pressure (P1), ammonia mass fraction (X1)
and ambient temperature (T0 ) are investigated as design variables. Such
Constant Value Constant Value
a thermodynamic and economic analysis is essential to design efficient
FBM ,T 3.5 K2,P 0.0536 and cost-effective new generations of this type of power plants.
K1,T 2.7051 K3,P 0.1538 Regarding the size of the plant and its economic performance and
K2,T 1.4398 B1,HE 1.63 feasibility, number of collectors which affects the HTF output tem-
K3,T – 0.1776 B2,HE 1.66 perature and mass flow rate is the most important parameter. Fig. 4
B1,P 1.89 FBM ,HE 1.0
shows the effects of the number of collectors in each row on the HTF
B2,P 1.35 K1,HE 4.3247
FBM ,P 1.5 K2,HE – 0.3030
output temperature and the absorbed thermal energy by the solar field.
K1,P 3.3892 K3,HE 0.1634 As expected, increasing the number of collectors per row results in an
increase of HTF output temperature (T24 ). Referring to Fig. 4 it is seen
that, T24 can be increased from around 180 °C to 380 °C (which is ap-
is estimated to be 6% of the total capital cost [35]. proximately the highest temperature attainable with PTCs) as a result of
For the heat exchangers, as indicated in Table 3a, the purchased increasing the number of collectors from 4 to 20 in each row. Also, the
equipment cost is a function of heat transfer surface area (A). The heat figure indicates that when Nperrow of collectors is increased from 4 to 20,
transfer process in heat exchangers is modeled using the logarithmic the input thermal energy increases from around 1300 kW to 6480 kW.
mean temperature difference as follows: The effects of the number of collectors per row on the net output
power and LCOE of the proposed system are presented in Fig. 5. The
Q̇ = U . A. ΔTLMTD (23) ̇ ) indicated in this figure is very si-
trend of the net output power (Wnet
where U is the overall heat transfer coefficient, A is the heat transfer milar to that of HTF output temperature shown in Fig. 4 because an
area and ΔTLMTD is the logarithmic mean temperature difference de- increase in T24 results in a higher turbine inlet temperature of the KC
fined as: (T1), as a result of which the generated power by the turbine is also
increased. Fig. 5 indicates that an increase in the number of collectors
ΔThotend−ΔTcoldend ̇ from 115 kW to
from 4 to 20 brings about a significant increase in Wnet
ln ΔT hotend (24) around 860 kW. Fig. 5 also shows that, despite the fact that increasing
Nperrow of collectors would increase the capital cost of the solar field,
where, ΔThotend and ΔTcoldend are the temperature difference between two
however, it results in a great decrease of the LCOE. This is due to the
streams at hot and cold end of the heat exchanger, respectively.
fact that as Nperrow increases the net output power is also increased and
the net effect of increasing the output power and the capital investment
4. Results and discussion is a significant reduction of LCOE as depicted in Fig. 5. Referring to
Fig. 5, LCOE generated by the considered system can be decreased from
The basic assumptions and design data of the solar field and the KC around 0.43 to about 0.15 $/kWh as a result of increasing the number
for the simulation of the proposed system are outlined in Table 4. of collectors from 4 to 20 in each row.
The effects of the number of parallel rows of collectors on the HTF
4.1. Model validation mass flow rate and absorbed thermal energy by the solar field are
shown in Fig. 6. Referring to Fig. 6, increasing the number of parallel
4.1.1. Validation of thermal analysis of PTCs rows results in an increase of HTF mass flow rate (ṁ 24 ). It can be ob-
In order to verify the accuracy of the applied simulation model for served that, when Nparallel increases from 4 to 20, the HTF mass flow rate
parabolic trough collectors, the results of experimental tests conducted is increased from around 2.6 kg/s to 13.3 kg/s. This increment of ṁ 24 ,
in Sandia National Laboratory (SNL) are used [12,48]. The SNL has
tested a small module of LS-2 collector of rotating platform to in-
Table 4
vestigate the effect of various conditions on the PTC performance. The
The input data assumed in the simulation.
design parameters of the LS-2 module are given in Table 4. Syltherm-
800 has been selected as the HTF oil during the tests to analyze the Parameter Value Unit
collector performance at various temperatures. The calculated results of
Collector aperture width 5 m
HTF outlet temperature and collector thermal efficiency in this work
Collector length 7.8 m
are compared with the corresponding test results from SNL in Table 5. Collector reflectance 0.935 –
The table reveals a good agreement between the results obtained in this Receiver outer diameter 0.070 m
work with experimental data. Receiver inner diameter 0.066 m
Cover outer diameter 0.0115 m
Cover inner diameter 0.109 m
4.2. Verification of KC thermodynamic model Cover thickness 0.006 m
Absorber thermal conductivity 54 W/m K
To validate the model developed for thermodynamic analysis of the Cover thermal conductivity 0.78 W/m K
Absorber absorbance 0.96 –
KC123 the results given by Modi and Haglind [41] are used. They ap-
Cover emittance 0.86 –
plied the KCS123 for a solar tower power plant with a central receiver Cover absorbance 0.02 –
and assumed that the KC operates with a turbine inlet temperature of Receiver shadowing 0.974 –
500 °C to generate a net power output of 20 MW. For these operating Twisting tracking error 0.994 –
conditions, the values of temperature, pressure, ammonia concentration Geometry accuracy of collector 0.98 –
Direct normal irradiance 850 W/m2
and mass flow rate at state points of the cycle according to Fig. 1(a) are Number of collectors per row 10 –
given in Table 6. The table compares the results obtained in this work Number of parallel rows 10 –
with previously reported data and indicates a good agreement between Pump isentropic efficiency 70 %
them. Turbine isentropic efficiency 85 %
Pinch point temperature difference 10 °C
To examine the effects of key operating parameters of both solar and
Ambient temperature 20 °C
KC sub-systems on the system performance, a parametric study is Ambient pressure 1 bar
conducted. The effects of important parameters including number of

V. Zare, A. Moalemian Energy Conversion and Management 151 (2017) 681–692

Table 5
Comparison of the results of present work with experimental results from SNL tests for
PTC field.

DNI (W/m2) Wind speed Tin (°C) Tout (°C) Collector thermal
(m/s) efficiency (%)

SNL test Present SNL test Present

[48] work [48] work

933.7 2.60 102.2 124.0 121.5 72.51 71.11

968.2 3.70 151.0 173.3 170.3 70.90 70.74
982.3 2.50 197.5 219.5 216.1 70.17 70.11
909.5 3.30 250.7 269.4 265.8 70.25 68.87
937.9 1.0 297.8 316.9 312.9 67.98 67.40

which in turn raises the mass flow rate of AWM vapor produced in the Fig. 4. Effects of the number of collectors per row on the HTF output temperature and
evaporator of the KC turbine, brings about a power generation en- input thermal energy.

hancement by the turbine, as Fig. 7 shows. As presented in this figure,

the net output power is enhanced by a significant amount (from about
150 kW to 760 kW) when Nparallel is increased from 4 to 20. Fig. 7 also
depicts the variation of LCOE with increasing the number of parallel
rows of collectors. It can be seen that, increasing Nparallel results in a
decrease of LCOE, despite the increase of capital costs associated with
solar collectors. As can be seen, at the expense of increasing Nparallel
from 4 to 20 the LCOE can be decreased form around 0.34 to 0.17
$/kWh. A comparison between the results indicated in Figs. 5 and 7
reveals that if a lower LCOE is to be reached increment in Nperrow is more
beneficial than the increment in Nparallel of collectors.
Fig. 8 shows the variations of power plant energy and exergy effi-
ciencies and net output power of the proposed system with the turbine
inlet pressure of the KC (P1). As the figure indicates, for a given turbine
inlet temperature, increasing turbine inlet pressure results in an in-
crease of net output power as a result of which the power plant thermal Fig. 5. Effects of the number of collectors per row on the net output power and LCOE.
and exergy efficiencies are also increased. The figure illustrates how
much power and efficiency enhancement can be gained when P1 raises. that a huge amount of energy and exergy is lost/destructed in the solar
It is observed that, when P1 increases from 80 to 160 bar a significant field, as the maximum values of ηth and ηex are around 25.0% and 63.9%
efficiency improvement is attained, as the thermal and exergy effi- for the KC and 12.7% and 13.9% for the overall power plant. The dif-
ciencies of the power plant is increased by 14.1% (from 11.1% to ference between ηth and ηex of the cycle and such a high exergy effi-
12.7%) and 13.9% (from 12.2% to 13.9%), respectively. ciency of the cycle is due to the fact that the cycle has a considerable
To reveal the values of energy and exergy losses in the PTC field, the energy loss. However, the exergy loss is very low as the lost energy is of
energy and exergy efficiency values of the KC, as the thermal to me- very low quality.
chanical power conversion unit, are presented in Fig. 9 with respect to Effect of the turbine inlet pressure of the KC on the LCOE is pre-
the turbine inlet pressure. A comparison between Figs. 8 and 9 indicates sented in Fig. 10. Referring to Fig. 10, for a given turbine inlet

Table 6
Comparison of the results of present work (a) with the available data in literature (b) [41] for KC123.

Stream Temperature (°C) Pressure (bar) Ammonia concentration (kg NH3/kg solution) Mass flow rate (kg/s)

(a) (b) (a) (b) (a) (b) (a) (b)

1 500 500 140 140 0.8 0.8 29.81 29.20

2 200.9 183.2 6.004 5.98 0.8 0.8 29.81 29.20
3 95.06 93.9 6.004 5.98 0.8 0.8 29.81 29.20
4 39.26 38.4 6.004 5.98 0.8 0.8 29.81 29.20
5 42.10 41.2 6.004 5.98 0.6736 0.6723 55.76 52.26
6 24.20 24.2 6.004 5.98 0.6736 0.6723 55.76 52.26
7 24.26 24.3 8.679 8.28 0.6736 0.6723 55.76 52.26
8 24.26 24.3 8.679 8.28 0.6736 0.6723 18.07 17.63
9 24.26 24.3 8.679 8.28 0.6736 0.6723 37.69 34.62
10 54.19 52.0 8.679 8.28 0.6736 0.6723 37.69 34.62
11 54.19 52.0 8.679 8.28 0.9946 0.9946 11.74 11.57
12 39.77 39.3 8.679 8.28 0.9946 0.9946 11.74 11.57
13 54.19 52.0 8.679 8.28 0.5284 0.5106 25.95 23.05
14 43.89 43.1 6.004 5.98 0.5284 0.5106 25.95 23.05
15 35.34 34.3 8.679 8.28 0.8 0.8 29.81 29.20
16 27.3 27.3 8.679 8.28 0.8 0.8 29.81 29.20
17 31.77 31.3 152.2 152.17 0.8 0.8 29.81 29.20
18 36.66 35.3 152.2 152.17 0.8 0.8 29.81 29.20
19 141.7 134.3 152.2 152.17 0.8 0.8 29.81 29.20

V. Zare, A. Moalemian Energy Conversion and Management 151 (2017) 681–692

Fig. 6. Effects of the number of parallel rows of collectors on the HTF mass flow rate and Fig. 9. Effects of the turbine inlet pressure on the Kalina cycle thermal and exergy effi-
input thermal energy. ciencies.

Fig. 7. Effects of the number of parallel rows of collectors on the net output power and
LCOE. Fig. 10. Effects of the turbine inlet pressure on the LCOE.

becomes lower than 0.9. Referring to Fig. 11, it can be concluded that
increasing the ammonia fraction at the turbine inlet has a negative
effect on the system performance. The results shown in Fig. 11 reveals
that, for the considered power plant if higher output power and energy
and exergy efficiencies are aimed the X1 should be selected as low as
possible value that the practical limitations allow.
Effect of ammonia fraction of turbine inlet solution on the LCOE is
presented in Fig. 12. It can be seen that increasing the ammonia fraction
at the turbine inlet brings about an increase in LCOE. This is mainly
attributed to the fact that, increasing ammonia fraction results in a
̇ (as presented in Fig. 11), as a result of which the LCOE
decrease of Wnet
increases. It can be observed from Fig. 12 that, as X1 increases from 0.75
to 0.9 kgNH3/kgH2O the LCOE increases from around 0.202 to 0.220

Fig. 8. Effects of the turbine inlet pressure on the net output power and power plant
thermal and exergy efficiencies.

temperature, increasing turbine inlet pressure brings about a reduction

in LCOE. This is mainly due to the fact that, increasing turbine inlet
̇ (as presented in Fig. 8) which
pressure results in an increase of Wnet
dominates the increment of the size and cost of the turbine as its inlet
pressure and generated power increases. It can be observed from Fig. 10
that, as P1 increases from 80 to 160 bar the LCOE decreases from around
0.225 to 0.205 $/kWh.
Another important parameter affecting the performance of the
KC123 is the ammonia mass fraction of the AWM solution entering the
turbine ( X1). The effects of this parameter on the values of net output
power and power plant thermal and exergy efficiencies are depicted in
Fig. 11. The lower bond for X1 is selected to be 0.75 since for the values
Fig. 11. Effects of the ammonia fraction of turbine inlet solution on the net output power
lower than this value the quality of the stream exiting the turbine and power plant thermal and exergy efficiencies.

V. Zare, A. Moalemian Energy Conversion and Management 151 (2017) 681–692

Fig. 15. Effects of direct solar irradiation intensity on the net output power and LCOE.
Fig. 12. Effects of the ammonia fraction of turbine inlet solution on the LCOE.

is usually considered as an important parameter. The effects of DNI on

the net output power and power plant thermal and exergy efficiencies
of the proposed system are shown in Fig. 14. The figure indicates a
higher output power and efficiency as DNI increases. This is due to the
fact that an increase of DNI results in receiving more solar radiation
energy to the PTC field, as a result of which T24 (as the heat source
temperature of the KC) increases. Referring to Fig. 14, it is observed
that when DNI increases from 600 to 1000 W/m2 the thermal and ex-
ergy efficiencies are increased from 11.5% to 11.9% and from 12.5% to
13.0%, respectively. Such an efficiency increment can be accounted as a
slight performance enhancement with a relatively large increment of
DNI (from 600 to 1000 W/m2). This point can be considered as an in-
teresting characteristic and advantage of the proposed system on which
the reduction of DNI doesn’t have significant negative effect, implying
that the proposed power plant works efficiently with low DNI, in dif-
Fig. 13. Effects of the ambient temperature on the net output power and power plant
ferent hours of day or different seasons, without suffering a consider-
thermal and exergy efficiencies.
able reduction in efficiency. It should be pointed out that increasing the
DNI has a significant influence on net output power (as presented in
Fig. 15), however, regarding the efficiency definitions as given by Eqs.
(16) and (17), since both the numerator and denominator of the frac-
tion are increased with increasing the DNI, the net effect on the effi-
ciencies are relatively slight as presented in Fig. 14.
The variations of net output power and LCOE of the considered
power plant with DNI are shown in Fig. 15. As expected, DNI increment
has a significant positive effect on the output power. An increment of
DNI from 600 to 1000 W/m2 results in a significant increase in output
power from around 260 to about 455 kW. It is clear that such an in-
crease in output power would increase the size and cost of the system
components specially the turbine. However, Fig. 15 reveals that in-
creasing the DNI results in a decreases in LCOE, implying that incre-
ment of Wneṫ dominates the increment of system components’ costs. It
can be seen from Fig. 15 that, as DNI increases from 600 to 1000 W/m2
Fig. 14. Effects of direct solar irradiation intensity on the power plant thermal and exergy the LCOE decreases from 0.179 to 0.118 $/kWh.
efficiencies. The irreversibility assessment of the system components is an im-
portant outcome of the second law analysis by which the contribution
of each subsystem or component on total exergy destruction can be
identified. For the proposed system in this work, the breakdown of
The influence of the ambient temperature on the net output power
exergy destruction ratios in each system component is illustrated in
and power plant thermal and exergy efficiencies of the proposed system
Fig. 16. Referring to Fig. 16, more than 90% of total exergy destruction
is shown in Fig. 13. The figure indicates a lower output power and
of the system occurs in PTC solar field. Therefore, there is a large po-
efficiency as T0 increases. This is mainly due to the fact that an increase
tential of improving the collector performance which can be achieved
of the ambient temperature brings about a higher condenser tempera-
by improving its optic performance and reducing heat losses. As the KC
ture (and thus pressure) which results in a lower power generation by
has minor contribution on total exergy destruction; more investment
the turbine. Referring to Fig. 13, a significant decrease in output power
should be put on solar subsystem in order to improve the overall system
and efficiencies is observed when T0 increases from 15 to 45 °C. The
performance. The large exergy destruction of the solar field can be at-
output power decreases from 395 to 315 kW (a reduction by 20.2%)
tributed to the fact that in solar field the high-quality solar irradiation
and the exergy efficiency of the power plant decreases from 13.3% to
energy (with a temperature of as high as 4500 K [43,44]) is converted
to thermal energy with lower quality in PTC at a temperature of lower
In evaluating solar thermal power plant performance direct normal
than 400 °C. Regarding these temperature levels and material
irradiance, which varies with geographical location and the time of day,

V. Zare, A. Moalemian Energy Conversion and Management 151 (2017) 681–692

Fig. 16. Exergy destruction percentage in each system component.

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