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Reactive fluids for intensified thermal energy conversion
Funder: European CommissionProject code: 101040994 Call for proposal: ERC-2021-STG
Funded under: HE | HORIZON-AG Overall Budget: 1,436,090 EURFunder Contribution: 1,436,090 EUR

Thermal engines, refrigeration systems and heat pumps rely on thermodynamic cycles, in which an inert working fluid converts input thermal and mechanical energies into another useful energy form (work or heat) by cyclically transforming its thermal energy content. Although the selection of the working fluid is the main lever to increase their performances, whatever the fluid is, recorded efficiencies remain far below the highest achievable ones. This deficiency is strongly affecting the exploitation of waste heat and renewable thermal energies by closed power cycles, as well as representing the main cause of the slow performance improvement of heat pumps and cooling technologies. With the aim to effectively increase the performances of thermodynamic cycles, I propose to investigate a radically new thermodynamic structure, resulting from the use of equilibrated reactive working fluids instead of inert ones. Preliminary calculations have indeed shown that the simultaneous conversion of the thermal and chemical energy of reactive fluids may result in the intensification of these energy conversion processes. This project applies an original methodology that integrates thermodynamic and kinetic predictive tools to discover and characterize suitable reactive fluids, allowing for the quantification of the effects of reaction features on cycle performance and the optimization of the cycle?s configuration. The novelty of such a solution approach and comprehensiveness of the applied methodology builds the innovative character of REACHER. Probably due to the complex multi-disciplinarity of the problem or to the negligence of this possible way to convert chemical energy in thermodynamic cycles, this field has remained substantially unexplored. The successful development of REACHER will provide the former fundamental understanding on how chemical energy can be efficiently exploited in the intensification of thermodynamic cycles for power, refrigeration and heating purposes.

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