Air-Cooled Condensers in Next-Generation Conversion Systems Geothermal Lab Call Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Air-Cooled Condensers in Next-Generation Conversion Systems
Project Type / Topic 1 Laboratory Call for Submission of Applications for Research, Development and Analysis of Geothermal Technologies
Project Type / Topic 2 Air-Cooling

Project Description As the geothermal industry moves to use geothermal resources that are more expensive to develop, there will be increased incentive to use more efficient power plants. Because of increasing demand on finite supplies of water, this next generation of more efficient plants will likely need to reject heat sensibly to the ambient (air-cooling). This will be especially true in western states having higher grade Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) resources, as well as most hydrothermal resources. If one had a choice, an evaporative heat rejection system would be selected because it would provide both cost and performance advantages. The evaporative system, however, consumes a significant amount of water during heat rejection that would require makeup. Though they use no water, air-cooling systems have higher capital costs, reduced power output (heat is rejected at a higher temperature), lower power sales due to higher parasitics (fan power), and greater variability in power output (because of large variation in the dry-bulb temperature).
State Idaho
Objectives Identify and recommend methods to mitigate the disadvantages of air-cooling in the power cycles of the next generation of geothermal power plants.
Awardees (Company / Institution) Idaho National Laboratory

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-PS36-09GO99017

DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $810,000.00

Total Project Cost $810,000.00

Principal Investigator(s) Gregory Mines

Targets / Milestones The project objective will be accomplished through a series of engineering studies that will be performed for the candidate plants with different resource scenarios. There are three resource scenarios;

- Air-Cooled Binary (Completion by FY10 1st Quarter)
- Air-Cooled Flash Steam (Completion by FY10 3rd Quarter)
- Air-Cooled Condenser designs for Mixed Working Fluids (Completion by FY11 4th Quarter)

In each of the studies performed, results will be documented and recommendations made as to whether further research is warranted to validate the projected benefits.

Location of Project Idaho Falls, ID

Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs