Performance analysis of a red-med salinity gradient heat engine

Giorgio Domenico Maria Micale, Andrea Cipollina, Alessandro Tamburini, Francesco Giacalone, Bartolomé Ortega Delgado, Patricia Palenzuela, Diego-César Alarcón-Padilla, Marina Micari, Guillermo Zaragoza, Marina Micari

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22 Citations (Scopus)


A performance analysis of a salinity gradient heat engine (SGP-HE) is presented for the conversion of low temperature heat into power via a closed-loop Reverse Electrodialysis (RED) coupled with Multi-Effect Distillation (MED). Mathematical models for the RED and MED systems have been purposely developed in order to investigate the performance of both processes and have been then coupled to analyze the efficiency of the overall integrated system. The influence of the main operating conditions (i.e., solutions concentration and velocity) has been quantified, looking at the power density and conversion efficiency of the RED unit, MED Specific Thermal Consumption (STC) and at the overall system exergy efficiency. Results show how the membrane properties (i.e., electrical resistance, permselectivity, water and salt permeability) dramatically affect the performance of the RED process. In particular, the power density achievable using membranes with optimized features (ideal membranes) can be more than three times higher than that obtained with current reference ion exchange membranes. On the other hand, MED STC is strongly influenced by the available waste heat temperature, feed salinity and recovery ratio to be achieved. Lowest values of STC below 25 kWh/m3 can be reached at 100 ◦C and 27 effects. Increasing the feed salinity also increases the STC, while an increase in the recovery ratio is beneficial for the thermal efficiency of the system. For the integrated system, a more complex influence of operating parameters has been found, leading to the identification of some favorable operating conditions in which exergy efficiency close to 7% (1.4% thermal) can be achieved for the case of current membranes, and up to almost 31% (6.6% thermal) assuming ideal membrane properties.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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