Kalina cycle

Kalina cycle

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The Kalina cycle is a thermodynamic process for converting thermal energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

 into usable mechanical power.

It uses a solution of 2 fluids with different boiling points for its working fluid. Since the solution boils over a range of temperatures as in distillation
Distillation is a method of separating mixtures based on differences in volatilities of components in a boiling liquid mixture. Distillation is a unit operation, or a physical separation process, and not a chemical reaction....

, more of the heat can be extracted from the source than with a pure working fluid. The same applies on the exhaust (condensing) end. This provides efficiency comparable to a Combined cycle
Combined cycle
In electric power generation a combined cycle is an assembly of heat engines that work in tandem off the same source of heat, converting it into mechanical energy, which in turn usually drives electrical generators...

, with less complexity.

By appropriate choice of the ratio between the components of the solution, the boiling point of the working solution can be adjusted to suit the heat input temperature. Water and ammonia is the most widely used combination, but other combinations are feasible.

Because of this ability to take full advantage of the temperature difference between the particular heat source and sink available, it finds applications in reuse of industrial process heat, geothermal energy, solar energy, and use of waste heat from power plants (Bottoming cycle).

Reuse of Industrial Process Heat

The Kalina cycle has been shown to increase thermal power output efficiencies by up to 50% in suitable installations, such as Steel, Coal, Oil refineries and Cement production plants.

Several proof of concept power plants using the Kalina cycle have now been built including two Kalina cycle power plants currently operating in Japan:
  • The Kashima Steel Works operated by Sumitomo Metals
  • The Tokyo Bay Oil Refinery operated by Fuji Oil

Use in geothermal power

The Kalina cycle is particularly useful in geothermal power
Geothermal power
Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. Thermal energy is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. Earth's geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet and from radioactive decay of minerals...

 plants, where the hot fluid is very often below 100°C.

Geothermal plants exist in Husavik, Iceland, and Unterhaching, Germany.
Two Eco-Gen Kalina cycle units will soon to be installed at additional separate hot-spring sites in Japan.

Power Plants

Up until recently, in the heat converters are heat exchangers used to produce steam, and the most common cycle used is the Carnot Cycle
Carnot cycle
The Carnot cycle is a theoretical thermodynamic cycle proposed by Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot in 1824 and expanded by Benoit Paul Émile Clapeyron in the 1830s and 40s. It can be shown that it is the most efficient cycle for converting a given amount of thermal energy into work, or conversely,...

. An example of the recent use of Kalina cycle is the Wasabi Energy Facility, Husavik Power Plant in Northern Iceland, rated 2MW electric power output and 20MW heat power.


The Kalina cycle trademark and all global patents are owned by Wasabi Energy plc. owner of Global Geothermal Ltd., parent company of Recurrent Engineering Inc.

Global Geothermal Ltd. (parent company: Wasabi Energy Ltd.) owns all the worldwide entities licensed to deploy the Kalina Cycle process.
As a result GGL controls the Kalina cycle rights and over 200 international patents associated with this technology. The process is currently used via licensing deals with Siemens and Shanghai Shenge New Energy for all their Chinese applications.