High-speed turboexpander for ORC-based waste heat recovery from internal combustion engines

This project aims at developing a high-speed, oil-free turboexpander supported on gas lubricated bearings for waste heat recovery using Organic Rankine Cycles (ORC).

It is expected that within a few years most commercial long distance freight trucks will be equipped with a waste heat recovery system. This allows to convert heat from exhaust gases into mechanical or electrical energy. Truck manufacturers estimate that this will result in a fuel savings of 5-7%. The potential for this technology extends beyond heavy trucks to other commercial vehicles and SUVs.

The objective of this project is to design and build a demonstrator of an expander for Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) to recover waste heat from truck engines. Unlike existing solutions based on volumetric expansion, the research project proposes to use a dynamic turbine supported on gas-lubricated bearings. The cycle will therefore run without oil and improve the expander efficiency.

In this respect, the expertise of the Laboratory for Applied Mechanical Design (LAMD) is unique: it integrates the theoretical and experimental knowledge in the small size turbo-machinery design, the design of gas bearings, the thermal management and the integrated design and optimization methods. The different tasks performed within the LAMD will be accompanied by engineers from industrial partner(s) to ensure continuous technology transfer.

This project will last for three years and will be conducted by Prof. Jürg Schiffmann, head of the LAMD. It is sponsored by the Swiss Federal Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) and industrial partner(s).

Principal investigator Prof. Jürg Schiffmann
Project manager Industrial partner
Sponsors Swiss Federal Commission for Technology and Innovation
Industrial partner(s)
Period 2015-18
Laboratory LAMD
Collaboration TRACE