This study quantified the effects of evaporation temperature, condensation temperature, and the inlet- and outlet-temperature differences of deep cold seawater and warm seawater on the performance of an ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) plant using an organic Rankine cycle (ORC), and also investigated the optimal operations required for the performance. A finite-temperature-difference heat transfer method is developed to evaluate the objective parameter, which is the ratio of net power output to the total heat transfer area of heat exchanger in the system, and R717, R600a, R245fa, R152a, and R134a were used as the working fluids. The optimal evaporation and condensation temperatures were obtained under various conditions for maximal objective parameters in an OTEC system.
The results show that R717 performed optimally in objective parameter evaluation among the five working fluids, and that R600a performed better than other fluids in thermal efficiency analysis. The optimal seawater temperature differences between the inlet and outlet of the evaporator and condenser are proposed. Furthermore, the influences of inlet temperatures of warm and cold seawater in the ORC are presented for an OTEC plant. The simulation results should enable the performance of an ORC system to be compared when using various organic working fluids.