Development of a 125kW AMB Expander/Generator for Waste Heat Recovery

The development and testing of an integrated power module (IPM) for a waste heat recovery system is described. The IPM is part of a waste heat recovery system based on the organic Rankine cycle. The waste heat system can recover energy from a wide variety of heat sources including landfill gas, reciprocating engine exhaust, solar, geothermal, boilers, and other industrial processes. The IPM incorporates a high performance, high speed permanent magnet generator with an integrated expansion turbine and low loss magnetic bearings. The IPM operates between 20,000 rpm and 26,500 rpm depending on the energy available from the heat source. The varying frequency voltage supplied by the generator is connected to the grid using an active/active power electronics package that can deliver power at 400–480 Vac (50 Hz or 60 Hz). Active magnetic bearings (AMBs) were chosen for the application because they can operate directly in the working fluid, have low losses, and provide high reliability and remote monitoring capabilities. This system has a flow-through design and an inboard impeller layout that produces desirable rotordynamics for a simple magnetic bearing control. An extensive shop testing procedure is described, and measurements and predictions are presented, showing good correlation.  Shop testing of the IPM in the waste heat system has been completed for 15 systems. The magnetic bearings and backup bearings have performed as designed. The thrust balancing system has limited the thrust load that must be reacted by the axial magnetic bearings to 25% of the design load capacity in the worst case. The first field unit was installed in April 2009 at a biogas site. _DOI: 10.1115/1.4002660