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Organic Rankine Cycle machines are based on the simple thermodynamical principle shown in the picture below.

The cycle is started at the pump, which is pumping the refrigerant – the fluid of the internal circuit of the machine – to the evaporator.

At this first heat exchanger the available waste heat is used to evaporate the refrigerant. The saturated gas at the outlet of the evaporator is sent to the expander.

The expansion of the gas is delivering the work to drive the generator, resulting in the production of electricity. Supersaturated low pressure gas is leaving the expander to be condensed.

At a second heat exchanger, the condenser, external cooling is used to condense the gas. The fluid leaving the condenser will be pumped up again to restart the cycle.

In some cases a third heat exchanger, the recuperator, can be integrated to optimize machine efficiency. This recuperator cools down the low pressure gas leaving the expander prior to entering the condenser. The extracted heat is used to preheat the fluid pumped by the pump prior to entering the evaporator. This extra heat exchanged maximizes overall performance of the machine.

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