On the pathway to integrate more renewable energy into the energy system and to increase the use of residual heat, conversion systems will play an important role as enablers to link different energy carriers and networks to each other. Surplus of energy in one network can be transferred to other energy networks and similarly, the operational flexibility of one network can be exploited by others. To this purpose, conversions systems need to be designed and operated to achieve high efficiency and flexibility.  

EnergyVille develops generic technologies and methodologies for a sustainable energy system. Within the Conversion Technology activity we develop technological solutions that enable an increased recuperation of residual and renewable thermal energy via efficient, flexible, and cost-effective conversion systems and ease the transfer of thermal energy within and between different energy networks carriers. The development of tools for automated component design contributes to the creation of innovative conversion systems by harvesting their full potential.

Thermal
Erik De Schutter

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Erik De Schutter

Business Developer Thermal Energy Systems at EnergyVille/VITO
Johan Van Bael

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Johan Van Bael

Project Manager Energy Technology at EnergyVille/VITO

Optimal heat recovery

For optimal heat recovery via heat exchanges a lot of parameters need to be optimized at the same time. It is important to have a heat exchanger with a high effectiveness and reduced pressure drop, but from the other side it is also important to minimize the usage of material and in some cases also the size/dimension needs to be minimized (or fit within certain boundary conditions).

Within EnergyVille we focus on the development of software packages for detailed simulation and optimisation of flow and heat transfer in (compact) heat transfer devices. The software is based on  new macro-scale modelling techniques for fast evaluation of ‘average’ flow and temperature in heat transfer devices with fin arrays.

In order to validate new designs of heat exchangers we are equipped with micro-scale testing infrastructure (measurements on arrays of fin structures including flow velocity measurement via Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) and temperature measurement via Thermographic PIV).

Low-temperature power generation

Within low-temperature power generation we focus on

  • Steady state modeling and optimization of ORC power systems including thermodynamic optimization, thermo-economic optimization, optimal fluid selection and hybrid cooling systems
  • Dynamic modeling and control of ORC power systems via Modelica (the ThermoCycle library) with focus on fast variations in boundary conditions and opimised start-up and shut-down
  • Evaluation of optimal working fluids for ORCs using the open-source Coolprop library
  • Design of small-scale prototypes of ORCs

Flexible heat pumps

Within flexible heat pumps we focus on

  • Assessment of control strategy influence on heat pump installations to exploit their energy flexibility including the impact on the heat pump performance, the mutual influence of control strategy and design specifications and the interaction of different energy systems in heat pump installations
  • Design optimisation and compact heat exchangers for charge reduction of heat pumps with environmentally friendly refrigerants
  • Assessment of innovative heat pump technologies (eg high temperature heat pumps for waste heat recovery, absorption cooling with solar energy)
  • Testing of energy flexible heat pumps with heat pump hardware-in-the-loop configuration (testing of different control strategies and system configurations)