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Laboratory Experiment MP 2.


Mechanical Engineering
Rankine Cycle

1) To apply the First Law of Thermodynamics to the
power cycle to produce an energy balance and
determine the cycle efficiency.
2) To compare the practical cycle with the ideal
Rankine cycle and to determine the isentropic
efficiency of the turbine.
The evolution of the steam power plant from the
Newcomen engines to the modern thermal power
stations is a fascinating study. Despite the enormous
advances made in thermal efficiency, power output,
etc., there has been surprisingly little change in the
cycles used and the functions of the components.
However complex a modem steam power plant, these
components can still be identified (Fig. 1), i.e.
(i) The steam generator or boiler in which water is
converted to steam by the transfer of heat from
burning fuel, a nuclear reaction, solar radiation,
geothermal sources, etc.
(ii) A work producing unit, which uses the high
pressure steam to produce shaft work. Formerly the
power unit was a reciprocating engine, but the vast
majority of modern plants use turbines.
(iii) A condenser, in which the exhausted steam is
converted to water by transferring heat to cooling
(iv) A feed pump which pressurises and transfers the
water from the low pressure in the condenser to the
high pressure in the steam generator or boiler.
The ideal cycle on which it operates is known as the
RANKlNE Cycle. For the discussion of the choice of
fluid, theoretical Rankine cycle and practical cycle see
Appendix 1.

Figure 1: Basic components of a steam power plant
The Hilton F821 Vapour Turbine
(Please refer to the schematic diagram - Fig. 2)
The system is charged with R141b. The vapour
generator consists of a coiled seamless copper tube
through which pressurised R141b flows. The coil is
immersed in an insulated tank containing hot water
provided by an electric resistance heater which is
housed within the tank.
As the R141b flows through the vapour generator it
changes from liquid to high pressure wet or
superheated vapour, according to conditions.
The vapour produced then flows through a
convergent-divergent nozzle and impinges on blades
on the rotor of a single stage impulse turbine. The
turbine is mounted on the condenser and the exhaust
vapour from it passes directly over the water cooled
coil. The condenser, which has a high strength glass
shell, is partly flooded to provide the R141b with a few
degrees of sub-cooling.
A low speed reciprocating feed pump draws
condensed R141b from the bottom of the condenser
and delivers it, via a control valve and flow meter, to
the vapour generator for re-evaporation. An
accumulator fitted between the feed pump and vapour
generator smooths most of the pulsation arising from
the action of the pump. A small quantity of
lubricating oil mixed with the R141b and is separated
from the high pressure vapour line and fed to the
turbine bearings.

Rankine Cycle Laboratory Experiment MP 2.1

Figure 2. Schematic diagram of the Hilton F821 Vapour Turbine rig

Rankine Cycle Laboratory Experiment MP 2.1

Vapour Pressure and Temperature
These are determined by the setting of the R141b flow
control valve and the temperature of the water in the
vapour generator tank.
Turbine output
A simple band brake dynamometer applies and
measures the resisting torque to the turbine shaft.
A digital meter indicates the load in Newtons being
applied by the turbine to the load cell. Knowing the
radius at which this load is applied the torque may be
calculated. An optical sensor senses the rotational
speed of the turbine and this is displayed on a digital
Condenser Pressure
This is determined by the R141b flow rate and by the
temperature and flow rate of the cooling water.
R141b Liquid Feed to the Generator
The feed pump runs at a constant speed. The R141b
flow rate to the vapour generator is controlled by the
flow control valve at the base of the R141b flowmeter.
Surplus liquid from the feed pump is returned to the
condenser via a spill valve within the internal
Hot Water Temperature
When the electric resistance heater is in use, the
desired water temperature in the vapour generator is
set by adjustment of a water temperature control
situated to the right of the vapour generator tank.
Note that the advised maximum temperature is 95C.
Cooling Water Temperature
As with all heat engines, the performance of this unit
is largely dependent on the temperature range over
which it works. The maximum and minimum vapour
saturation temperatures are approximately 85C, and
10K above the temperature of the cooling water,
The range over which tests can be performed will be
reduced as cooling water temperature increases and it
is suggested that when its temperature exceeds 22C,
cooled water should be considered.
Preliminary Procedures
and Calculations:
Assuming the unit is correctly charged with R141b
and oil and the vapour generator tank has sufficient
water (half way up the level indicator), the unit may
be started.
(i) Switch on the mains supply and the "Supply"
switch on the panel.
(ii) Turn on the condenser cooling water to about 50
g s
(iii) Check that the temperature indicator (set to
station 4) and the tachometer illuminate and that
the feed pump and circulating pump operate.
Movement of the feed pump plunger may be
observed from the front of the panel. The
circulating pump usually operates quietly but a
slight movement of the water in the sight glass
will indicate that it is working. If the water
circulating pump is noisy or if the water
circulation is thought to be sluggish, it is possible
that air is trapped. The air may normally be
cleared by turning the main switch on and off
several times.
(iv) Adjust the R141b control valve until the
flowmeter shows a small flow - say 2 gs

(Initially, flow may be erratic).
(v) Set the water temperature controller to about
(vi) Switch on the vapour generator Heater" switch
and set the temperature indicator to station 4 to
indicate the temperature of the water in the
generator tank. This temperature should be seen
to steadily increase.
(vii) Ease the dynamometer belt tensioning screw so
that the turbine can spin freely.
(viii) When the water temperature reaches about 50C
the turbine should start to rotate.
(ix) Gradually increase the R141b flow rate to about 5
g s
and adjust the dynamometer so that the
turbine runs at about 10,000 rev/min.
(x) Vent any air from the condenser by pulling
gently on the safety valve plunger. (If the cooling
water is very cold it may be necessary to reduce
the cooling water flow rate so that the condenser
pressure exceeds that of the atmosphere)
(xi) Adjustment of the water temperature in the
vapour generator can now be made. As a general
guide, the water temperature should be between
5 and l0K above the saturation temperature of
R141b at the desired turbine inlet pressure. This
will usually provide a few degrees of superheat
at turbine in1et. Under no circumstances must
the tank water temperature (t4) be allowed to
exceed 98C. If it does, boiling water may be
ejected from the vent.
Rankine Cycle Laboratory Experiment MP 2.1
(xii) By a combination of the R141b flow rate and
vapour generator water temperature, the desired
turbine inlet pressure and temperature can be
achieved within a range to about 450 kN m

gauge and 90C.
(xiii) The turbine speed may be adjusted to the desired
value by turning the screw of the dynamometer
load adjustment.
(a) During running, the level of R141b in the
condenser will vary according to operating
conditions. If there is less than 25mm for
prolonged periods the R141b charge should be
(b) Any changes of R141b flow rate and/or cooling
water flow rate should be made gradually.
(c) The graduations on the water temperature
controller must be regarded as a guide only. The
knob should be set in conjunction with the value
of t4.
(d) The flowmeter float will be seen to fluctuate in
position (by up to 0.5 gs
). This is due to the
combined effect of the feed pump and
accumulator. The actual flow rate may be taken
as the mean value.
(e) At intervals, check the water level in the vapour
generator tank, particularly after felling and
initial start up.
(f) The vapour generator operates most smoothly
when the tank water temperature (t4) is
approximately 3K to l0K above the saturation
temperature of the R141b. If necessary the tank
water temperature (t4), or the R141b flow rate,
may be adjusted to achieve the desired
Shutting Down
(i) Turn off the "Heater" switch but leave the
"Supply" switch on.
(ii) Allow the unit to run for about 10 minutes - this
will reduce the tank water temperature.
(iii) Close the R141b flow control valve and run for
two minutes to empty the vapour generator.
(iv) Switch off the mains - this will shut off all
electrical components and close the solenoid
valve in the high pressure vapour line, isolating
the vapour generator from other parts.
(v) Slacken the dynamometer adjusting screw.
(vi) Shut off the cooling water supply.
(i) The high pressure cut-out on the condenser is set
to close the solenoid valve and shut the heater
down if the condenser pressure exceeds 200 kN
m~ gauge. If this operates, check that the cooling
water is cool enough and flowing at the correct
rate. Check also for air in the condenser by
venting through the safety valve.
(ii) The safety valve on the condenser is set to
discharge at 250 kN m
and must not be adjusted
to a higher pressure.
(iii) The temperature of the water in the vapour
generator tank t4 must not be allowed to exceed
98C, otherwise steam and hot water may be
discharged through the vent.
Experimental Procedures:
1. Energy balance and cycle efficiency.
(i) An energy balance can be conducted at any
operating condition, but this it is advisable to use a
high generator pressure (ps) and temperature (t1) and
to use the highest R141b flow rate consistent with
about 3-5 K of superheated at turbine inlet. The
condenser cooling water flow should be 40 to 50 gs
order to obtain a low condenser pressure
(ii) Run the unit on the desired conditions with
dynamometer load to give a turbine speed of
approximately 20,000 rpm for at least 5 minutes before
making any observations.
(iii) After noting all the parameters on the standard
Observation Sheet, the test may be repeated at another
set of conditions.
Note that the pressures shown are Absolute Pressures.
Absolute Pressure = Gauge Pressure + Atmospheric
Determination Of The Thermal Efficiency Of The
Cycle At A Range Of Generator Pressures (optional).
(i) This test should be run with a constant condenser
pressure but with varying R141b mass flows and
consequent generating pressures.
(ii) The degree of superheat should be kept
approximately constant by variation of the generating
tank water temperature.
(iii) The first test should be run with maximum
generator pressure and maximum condenser water
flow rate to give minimum condenser pressure.
(iv) The turbine should be loaded so that it develops
approximately maximum power. As a rough guide,
maximum power is developed at about 50-60% of the
no load speed.
Rankine Cycle Laboratory Experiment MP 2.1
(v) Having allowed the unit to stabilise note the values
set out on the observation sheet.
(vi) Reduce the inlet pressure by about 100 kNm-2,
adjust the value of t4, the condenser pressure and the
turbine speed, and when stable repeat the
(vii) Repeat at similar decrements of vapour generator
(viii) It is interesting to repeat the test with a constant
vapour generator pressure, but various values of the
condenser pressure.
2. Practical cycle vs. the ideal Rankine cycle and the
isentropic efficiency of the turbine.
(i) It is advisable to use a high generator pressure and
temperature and to use the highest R141b flow rate
consistent with about 3-5 K of superheat at turbine
inlet. The condenser cooling water flow should be 40
to 50 gs-1.
(ii) Run the unit on the desired conditions with
dynamometer load to give a turbine speed of 18,000 to
20,000 rpm for at least 5 minutes before making any
(iii) After noting all the observations given on the test
sheet, another set of conditions may be set up for
another test.

Results and Discussion
1. Energy balance and cycle efficiency.
It is convenient to insert the observations on a simple
schematic diagram. Specific Enthalpies may be
obtained from the p-h diagram for R141b.
The turbine power output, heat transfer rate to R141b
in the generator, heat transfer rate from R141b in the
condenser, Energy Balance, cycle efficiency.
Feed Pump Work. In a Rankine Cycle it is normal to
neglect the work input to the feed pump since it is
small compared with the work output from the
turbine, however, the power absorbed by the feed
pump in this unit may be estimated by using either:
Dynamometer Power OR by applying the Steady
Flow Equation and assuming adiabatic flow, OR by
measuring the power absorbed by the electric motor.
An undesirable property of R141b is that the value of
enthalpy of evaporation is only about 10% of that for
water. Thus, for a given energy transfer rate, the mass
flow rate of R141b must be about 10 times that for
water. The result is that the feed pump power input is
proportionately greater than in a corresponding steam
2. Practical cycle vs. the ideal Rankine cycle and the
isentropic efficiency of the turbine.
- Turbine Power,
- Find enthalpies of R141b at entry and exit from
generator (p-h chart),
- Heat transfer to R141b in generator,
- Heat transfer from R141b in Condenser,
- Energy balance for the cycle,
- Assume that 50% of total heat loss in the cycle is
from the turbine (all of the internal pipework is
insulated and it would not be unreasonable to
assume that at least 50% of the heat loss is from the
- Sketch the practical cycle on a p-h diagram.
- Calculate rankine cycle thermal efficiency.
- Calculate practical cycle thermal efficiency.
- Calculate cycle efficiency relative to isentropic.
- Find tubine isentropic work in kJkg-1 from
- Calculate actual external turbine work in kJkg-1
(as indicated by dynamometer).
- Calculate turbine external isentropic efficiency.
The differences between the ideal Rankine Cycle and
the practical cycle can be clearly seen on the p-h
The principal reasons for the discrepancy in the
thermal efficiencies are:
(i) The irreversibilities in the turbine,
(ii) Cooling the condensate below the saturation
(iii) Heat losses.
It should be noted that the feed pump work input are
neglected in both cases.
The external isentropic efficiency of the turbine is low
due to the very small scale of the unit.
The irreversibilities in the turbine include:
(i) Bearing friction
(ii) Gland friction
(iii) Nozzle friction
(iv) Blade friction
(v) Disc friction or windage
(vi) Momentum changes in idle blades
(vii) Kinetic energy rejected by blades.

Rankine Cycle Laboratory Experiment MP 2.1
Useful Data
Turbine: Nozzles- Number: 1
Type: Convergent-divergent
Throat Diaameter: 1.6mm
Discharge Angle: 20 to plane of rotation
Rotor - Blade circle diameter: 45mm
Blade inlet angle: 40
Blade outlet angle: 40
Blade height: 4.25mm
Brake Pulley Effecdve Mdius: 17.5mm
(i.e. radius of pulley ~ half thickness of brake band)
Rotating Parts - Moment of Inertia: 40 x 10-6 kg m

Vapour Generator: Heat transfer surface area - 0.194 m

Condenser Heat transfer surface area - 0.132m

Feed Pump: Swept Volume - 7.6cm
. Single acting.
Standard Atmospheric Pressure = 1013 mbar = 101.3 kN/m

Symbols and Units
Symbol Quantity Fundamental Unit
F Force N
h Specific Enthalpy kJ kg

I Moment of Inertia kg m
m Mass Flow Rate (Water) kg s
M Torque Nm
n Rotational Speed rev min
p Pressure N/m

P,W Power W
q Heat Transfer per Unit Mass J kg

Heat Transfer Rate W

r Radius m
s Specific Entropy J kg

t Temperature (Customary)
T Temperature (Absolute) K

Volume Flow Rate m

3 s

o Angular Acceleration s
e Angular Velocity s
q Efficiency -
Density kg m
c Condenser
e The environment, i.e. the surroundings
f Friction
g Generator
r Refrigerant 141b
t Turbine
p Pump
et Water
(e.g. 2') denotes a state reached after an isentropic process

Rankine Cycle Laboratory Experiment MP 2.1
Appendix 1
Choice of Working Fluid
Nearly all modern vapour power plants use steam and operate on the Rankine Cycle or the Rankine Cycle modified
by the addition of reheating and/or feed heating. The use of steam as the working fluid is historical but there are
many sound reasons for its continued use despite some of its disadvantages.
Among the less desirable attributes of steam are those connected with its thermodynamic properties at lower
temperatures, e.g.
(i) the saturation pressure of steam at say 25C is 3.16 kN m
abs. Thus the low pressure end of the turbine and
condenser operate well below atmospheric pressure and great care must be taken to exclude and eject air.
(ii) the specific volume of saturated steam at 25C is very high (43.4 m
compared with air at 0.83 m
). This
means that the steam passages at the low pressure end of the power unit and into the condenser must be very large
and result in bulky equipment.
In the case of a vapour power plant to work over a fairly small temperature range - say from 100C to 25C as in the
case of a simple solar power unit, the use of steam would present many practical problems. For these reasons the
working fluid chosen for the F821 Vapour Turbine is R141b.
Over the temperature range likely to be encountered, the saturation pressure ranges from about 100 kN m
abs. (i.e.
atmospheric) to about 600 kN m
abs. Other advantages are (i) that ester oil is miscible with R141b, and (ii) due to its
large molecular mass, the nozzle jet velocity is much lower than for steam thus the turbine can run at a lower speed.
Except for the change of working fluid, the cycle on which the F821 Vapour Turbine works is identical with its
corresponding steam plant and the unit displays the same characteristics.
Theoretical Rankine Cycle
The plant diagram is as sketched, Fig. 3. Both the expander and pump are reversible - adiabatic (isentropic) and there
are no pressure or heat losses in pipe work.
Applying SFEE to Vapour Generator and then to the condenser,
Heat transfer from heat source qz-w = hw - hz
Heat transfer to cold sink qx-y = hy - hz
By lst Law qnet = wnet
wnet = (hw - hz) + (hy - hz)
= (hw - hx) - (hz - hy)
= Turbine Work - Feed Pump Work
The Cycle Thermal Efficiency
is defined as (Net Work/Heat from Source)

( ) h
( )

In most cases the feed pump work (hz - hy) is small compared with the turbine work (hw - hx) and may be ignored, thus

( )

The specific enthalpies and other properties are most readily obtained from charts of properties for the fluid used,
although tabulated properties may also be used.
For steam, h/s diagrams are usually used, but for R141b as used in the F821 Vapour Turbine it is more convenient to
use a p/h diagram.

Rankine Cycle Laboratory Experiment MP 2.1

Figure 3

Rankine Cycle on p/h diagram

Figure 4
The therrnal efficiency is readily seen as

q =
x '

Practical Cycle
In a practical plant, the expansion is not reversible and some over-cooling of the condensate is likely. The resulting
p/h diagram is as shown in Fig.5.

Rankine Cycle Laboratory Experiment MP 2.1

Figure 5

Isentropic Efficiency
Due to irreverslbilides in the expander, the actual work transfer is less than that indicated during an isentropic
The ratio (actual work/isentropic work) is called the isentropic efficiency.
Neglecting heat losses from the expander, the actual work is hw - hx and the isentropic effciency

is e nt r
x '

Other detrimental effects in practice are heat losses and pressure drop in the pipework and elsewhere, and as a result
the thermal efficiency of a practical plant is significantly less than that of the Theoretical Rankine Cycle.
Scale Effects
In order to keep the operating and maintenance costs to a minimum the F821 unit has been reduced in scale to the
minimum practical size. At small size the losses normally associated with the turbine comprise a greater proportion
of the absolute work output. These losses typically are associated with:
Bearing friction.
Shaft seal friction.
Windage friction.
Back pressure associated with non-condensible gases.
For these reasons the cycle thermal efficiency and turbine isentropic efficiency will be lower than that associated with
a full size plant. However the trends and graphical form of turbine data will be similar to that of full size plant.

Rankine Cycle Laboratory Experiment MP 2.1
Appendix 2
Demonstration of A Thermodynamic Cycle (Rankine Cycle).
The First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics are fully discussed in most Thermodynamics text books and among
others the following conclusions are drawn:
(a) When a closed system is taken through a cycle, the net work delivered to the surroundings is equal to the net heat
taken from the surroundings. (First Law)
(b) If a system operates in a cycle and produces work, it must exchange heat with at least two heat "reservoirs" at
different temperatures. (Second Law)
The F821 introduces students to the concept of a Thermodynamic Cycle and to the truth of the above conclusions.
With the unit operating normally, students should identify:
(i) The system (i.e. the R141b).
(ii) The "hot source", i.e. the hot water in the vapour generator tank, from which heat is transferred to the system.
(iii) The "cold sink", i.e. the cooling water flowing through the condenser coils, to which the system rejects heat.
(iv) The places where work is transferred - identified by a shaft turning (at the turbine), or by displacement (at the
feed pump).
(v) That the cycle executed by the system is made up from a series of processes at the end of which the system returns
to its initial state.
These processes are:
Compression - the cold low pressure liquid from the condenser is pressurised and pumped into the generator. This
requires a Work Input ( -ve by convention).
Warming and Evaporation - the high pressure cold liquid is raised to its saturation temperature and evaporated. This
requires a Heat Transfer from the Hot Source (+ve by convention).
Expansion - the hot, high pressure vapour expands to the condenser pressure and in doing so produces a Work
Output at the turbine, (+ve by convention).
Condensation - the low pressure vapour is condensed to forrn low pressure co1d liquid, thus completing the cycle.
This requires a Heat Transfer to the Cold Sink (-ve by convention).
Note: There is a third heat transfer i.e. the unintentional heat transfer from the R141b to the metal surfaces and thence
to the environment, ( -ve by convention).
(vi) The student can then make the algebraic statement,

= W Q

pump turbine losses k cold source hot

sin _ _

By reducing the vapour generator tank water temperature and/or reducing the cooling water flow rate, the effect of
reducing the difference between the source and sink temperatures can be demonstrated. The reduction of tulbine
power output is obvious due to speed reduction without taking measurements. Note also that if the cooling water
temperature is high(above 22-C.) then the turbine power output will be reduced due to the high sink temperature.

Rankine Cycle Laboratory Experiment MP 2.1

Rankine Cycle Laboratory Experiment MP 2.1