Thermodynamic Analysis and Optimization of Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Brayton Cycles for Use with Low-Grade Geothermal Heat Sources: Article No. 112978

Eduardo Ruiz-Casanova, Carlos Rubio-Maya, J. Pacheco-Ibarra, Victor Ambriz-Diaz, Carlos Romero, Xingchao Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus Citations


The transcritical carbon dioxide Rankine cycle has emerged as an alternative for power generation in low-grade heat applications. However, the low heat rejection temperatures required for condensing the carbon dioxide is almost prohibitive for many locations. A simple solution is the adoption of a supercritical carbon dioxide Brayton cycle which does not need such low temperature heat sinks. This power cycle has been poorly studied previously in low-grade heat applications. Therefore, with the aim of determining the performance and feasibility of the supercritical carbon dioxide Brayton cycle from thermodynamic viewpoint, using a low-grade geothermal heat source, this paper presents a comparative thermodynamic analysis between four different supercritical carbon dioxide Brayton cycles. For this purpose, detailed models were developed and solved by coupling the thermodynamic model with the thermal-hydraulic model of a Printed Circuit Heat Exchanger. Subsequently, simulations of a base case, a parametric analysis, and an optimization using Genetic Algorithms, were carried out. Results show that there is a combination of operating conditions that maximizes the electrical output of the system. Besides, some values of the minimum pressure of the cycles can increase substantially the precooler cooling water pumping power. At the optimum design point, using a 20 kg/s geothermal brine stream at 150 °C as heat source with a minimum allowable reinjection temperature of 70 °C, the Intercooled Recuperated Brayton Cycle achieved the highest electric power output, energy and exergy efficiencies, obtaining values of 779.99 kW, 11.51%, and 52.49%, respectively. The other feasible alternatives were the Recuperated Brayton Cycle, the Simple Brayton Cycle and the Intercooled Brayton Cycle, ranked, in that order.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages14
JournalEnergy Conversion and Management
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-77253


  • Brayton cycle
  • geothermal energy
  • low-grade heat
  • optimization
  • supercritical carbon dioxide
  • thermodynamic analysis


Dive into the research topics of 'Thermodynamic Analysis and Optimization of Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Brayton Cycles for Use with Low-Grade Geothermal Heat Sources: Article No. 112978'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this