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EAI presents Cleantech Snapshots: a quick summary of some of the most interesting and innovative areas in clean technology that will drive the sustainability movement in future.

This snapshot focuses on Organic Rankine Cycle. Within this page you will find


  • An Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) uses an organic fluid with a boiling point lower than that of water for power generation
  • It can thus recover heat from lower temperature sources such as industrial waste heat and geothermal heat. This heat can be converted to electricity
  • With waste management and waste to energy gaining importance, the use of ORC has seen furious growth in the last few years, and can be expected to play a significant role in the near future especially in the waste heat recovery domain
  • The ORC operates on the same principle as Rankine cycle, with the difference where the working fluid is an organic compound that is chosen to boil at a lower temperature, enabling it to extract power from lower temperature sources
  • It can use lower-temperature heat to generate power

Organic Rankine CycleOrganic Rankine Cycle(Image source)


  • Waste heat recovery: It is one of the most important technique applied to power plants or other industrial processes, exhausts from ovens, furnaces and vehicles, intercooling of compressor, etc
  • Biomass power plant: In biomass plants, the process also helps to overcome the relatively small amount of input fuel available in many regions because an efficient ORC power plant is possible for smaller sized plants
  • Solar thermal power: The ORC’s can be used in the solar parabolic trough technology in place of the usual steam rankine cycle. The ORC allows power generation at lower capacities and with a lower collector temperature
  • Paper: Stand-alone solar desalination system with an Organic Rankine Cycle. Link


  • Dispersion of heat is high
  • High capital cost
  • Sensitive to ambient air temperature variations

Also check out: Sustainability Edge – EAI Consulting to assist corporates design, evaluate and align sustainability strategies