Waste heat is the by-product of industrial energy usage. Approximately one-third of the energy consumed by the oil and gas industry is discharged as thermal losses into the environment or via cooling systems. And the main reasons for waste heat discharge are process inefficiencies and technology limitations in the conversion of thermal to mechanical energy. Nevertheless, because the oil and gas industry demands large amounts of thermal, electrical and mechanical energy, a huge amount of waste heat is subsequently available.

Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) technology has made economical utilization of lower temperature heat sources possible. ORC's efficiency percentage for waste heat recovery varies between single digit to the mid-20s, depending on the waste heat source temperature and the cooling medium. Even the recovery of a few MW of thermal energy with a single-digit cycle efficiency for a plant consuming an average of 100 MW (134 102 hp) thermal energy is a considerable efficiency improvement. Studies by the Oakridge National Laboratory (USA) show that 75% of waste heat comes with sufficiently high temperatures (> 150°C, or > 302°F). This report projects a 2-5-year return of investment for ORC-based waste heat to power plant systems, which represents an attractive financial payback.

The recovery of waste heat from oil and gas operations remains mostly underutilized. Furthermore, economically feasible power generation from waste heat has been limited to medium- to high- temperature waste heat resources. This paper will explore technical solutions to these challenges facing the oil and gas industry

In this paper, three cases of waste heat from a gas turbine's exhaust flue gas are presented. The turbines have nominal output of 7.5, 15, and 25 MW (10 057, 20 115 and 33 525 hp) electrical power at an ambient air temperature of 15°C (59°F). A heat recovery unit (HRU) can recover thermal energy from exhaust flue gas. The heat recovery loop (HRL) could exchange thermal power with an ORC system, which in turn has the potential to produce electrical power. It will be demonstrated that this configuration has a HRL/ORC cycle efficiency of approximately 10% when the ambient air temperature is about 30°C (86°F).

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