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A Critical Review on Energy, Exergy, Exergoeconomic and Economic (4-E) Analysis Of Thermal Power

Kumar, Ravinder

Today’s ever-growing population is in demand for more and more facilities, infrastructure and developments.
So as the population and development increases, so is the requirement to produce much more power. The growing
energy demand, of course, needs a growing energy supply which is hard to do once a power plant is already designed
for a specific rating. Each year more and more power plants are constructed to cope up with this problem. Another
solution which scientists, engineers and researchers do is to increase the efficiency of power plants so that the overall
output will be increased and the energy loss will be decreased using energy performance analysis which is based on
the first law of thermodynamics. Sometimes, the system energy balance is not sufficient for the possible finding of
the system imperfections. Exergy analysis is a much more effective way of determining the equipment losses.
Improvement in thermal performance of power generation units and consuming devices can be achieved significantly
by combining exergy analyses with economic analyses.
It is a well-known fact that the total conversion of heat into work is not possible. So, that part which is
available for conversion is termed as exergy. It is a property associated with the state of system and environment,
now-a-days a useful tool to differentiate between internal irreversibility and energy losses in a process is exergy
analysis. In recent decades, exergy analysis of plants has been found as a useful method in the design, evaluation,
optimization and improvement of thermal power plants. It is usually used to determine exergy efficiencies and identify
and quantify exergy destructions so that directions for improved efficiency can be determined (Dincer & Rosen, 2007).
Increasing application and recognition of the usefulness of exergy methods by those in industry, government and
academia has been observed in recent years.
The study showed 4 types of power plant that have done exergy analysis, namely the Coal- Fired Power
Plants, Gas-Fired Power Plants, Cogeneration Systems, and Combined Cycle Power Plants. Coal-fired plants produce
electricity by burning coal in a boiler to produce steam. The steam produced, under tremendous pressure, flows into a
turbine, which spins a generator to create electricity. The steam is then cooled, condensed back into water and returned
to the boiler to start the process over. Presented on Table 1 is the list of some exergy analysis on a number of coal
fired power plants.
The next type of power plant that was analyzed on the paper were Gas-Fired Power Plants. Natural gas-fired
power plants generate electricity by burning natural gas as their fuel. There are many types of natural gas power plants
which all generate electricity, but serve different purposes. All natural gas plants use a gas turbine; natural gas is
added, along with a stream of air, which combusts and expands through this turbine causing a generator to spin a
magnet, making electricity. There is waste heat that comes from this process, because of the second law of
thermodynamics. The Table 2 below shows the results of the existing exergy, energy and economic related analysis
of existing gas-turbine power plants.
Combined Cycle power plants were also considered in this paper. A combined-cycle power plant uses both
a gas and a steam turbine together to produce up to 50 percent more electricity from the same fuel than a traditional
simple-cycle plant. The waste heat from the gas turbine is routed to the nearby heat exchanger used in the steam cycle
which transforms water into steam to be passed into the steam turbine, which generates extra power. Below is the
table 3 for the list results of the available exergy analysis for Combined Cycle Power Plants.
Lastly, the cogeneration plants were reviewed. Cogeneration is basically the production of energy and usable
heat (generally in the form of steam and hot water) in the same plant, usually by capturing heat that in older plants
used to be simply wasted. It's one of the principal ways in which countries intend to reduce their greenhouse-gas
emissions so as to slow climate change. Sample of a cogeneration plant is UPPC where the steam produced from the
boiler is used to spin a turbine to generate electricity and a line is also extracted to use steam for the drying of the
paper. The paper presented several examples of exergy analysis of cogeneration plants and they can be found in table
4 below.
Table 1 - Coal Fired Power Plant energy, exergy and economic analysis (Kumar, 2016).


A Critical Review on Energy, Exergy, Exergoeconomic and Economic (4-E) Analysis Of Thermal Power
Kumar, Ravinder

Table 2 - Gas Fired Power Plant energy, exergy and economic analysis. (Kumar, 2016).

Table 3 – Combined Cycle Power Plant energy, exergy and economic analysis (Kumar, 2016)..

Table 4 – Cogeneration Power Plant energy, exergy and economic analysis (Kumar, 2016).
A Critical Review on Energy, Exergy, Exergoeconomic and Economic (4-E) Analysis Of Thermal Power
Kumar, Ravinder


The 4 types of power plants were reviewed using the 4E analysis. In Coal-Fired Power Plants, the maximum
energy lost is in the condenser due to the heat being dissipated from the steam that doesn’t become fully utilized. The
maximum exergy lost on coal fired power plants was found to be in the boiler. It is found that the cost of exergy
destruction happening in the boiler and turbine is higher than the other components, this is because the whole energy
from fuel cannot be converted to fully useful heat and the same as with the turbine the steam’s energy cannot fully be
converted to useful work. It is also found that in one study that the cost in length projected improvements for the
efficiency of the power plant will be overly beneficial to the power plant in the long run. For the Gas-Fired Power
Plants, it was concluded from the majority of the results in the studies that the main cause of inefficiency is the
combustor, where majority of the exergy destruction occurs and impacts the economic part of the plant. For Combined
Cycle Power Plants, the same effect as the gas-fired ones because it utilizes the same cycle except combines it with
the Rankine cycle. The combustor is the most inefficient and is the greatest exergy destructor. For Cogeneration
Power Plants, it was shown that there are many types of cogeneration plants that uses different cycles and that exergy
analysis revealed that the fluid parameters in inlets and outlets of components are the most important in increasing the
efficiency. For most power plants, the efficiency can be specifically increased if it is operated at super critical
conditions, and as far as we know operating it at those conditions requires materials that can sustain very high
temperature and pressures, the cost efficiency of creating supercritical power plants will be worth once our
metallurgical scientists have developed a material that can withstand high enough pressure and temperature.


Dincer, I., & Rosen, M. (2013). Exergy Analysis of Renewable Energy Systems. Exergy (Second Edition).

Kumar, R. (2016). A critical review on energy, exergy, exergoeconomic and economic (4-E). Engineering Science
and Technology,.