Kalina Cycle Power Plants

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Kalina Cycle power plants are a type of power generation technology that utilizes a binary mixture of ammonia and water as the working fluid. This mixture allows for more efficient utilization of low-temperature heat sources compared to traditional Rankine cycle power plants that use pure water as the working fluid. Kalina Cycle plants offer a way to generate electricity from waste heat, geothermal energy, and other low-temperature heat sources that would otherwise be wasted.

Impact on climate action

Kalina Cycle Power Plants in Industrial Waste Heat Recovery bolster climate action by efficiently converting waste heat into electricity. By utilizing low-temperature heat sources, these plants reduce reliance on fossil fuels, lower emissions, and enhance energy efficiency, contributing to a more sustainable and carbon-neutral energy landscape.


  • Heat Source: The heat source can be from various sources, such as waste heat from industrial processes, geothermal energy, or solar thermal collectors.
  • Evaporator: The low-temperature heat source is used to vaporize the ammonia-water mixture.
  • Separator: The vaporized mixture is separated into high-concentration ammonia vapor and low-concentration ammonia liquid.
  • Turbine: The high-concentration ammonia vapor expands through a turbine, generating mechanical energy.
  • Generator: The turbine is connected to a generator, which converts the mechanical energy into electricity.
  • Condenser: The ammonia vapor leaving the turbine is condensed back into a liquid by rejecting heat to a cooling medium, such as water or air.
  • Absorber: The low-concentration ammonia liquid absorbs the ammonia vapor from the condenser, creating a high-concentration ammonia liquid.
  • Pump: The high-concentration ammonia liquid is pumped back to the separator to complete the cycle.

TRL : 7-8

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Advanced Working Fluid Mixtures: Researchers are exploring different ammonia-water mixture ratios and other binary mixtures to optimize the performance of Kalina Cycle plants for specific heat sources and applications.
  • High-Efficiency Turbines and Expanders: Innovations in turbine and expander design are improving the efficiency of Kalina Cycle plants, leading to higher electricity generation from the same amount of heat input.
  • Compact and Modular Designs: Companies are developing compact and modular Kalina Cycle plants that can be easily integrated into existing industrial facilities or used for distributed power generation applications.
  • Hybrid Kalina Cycle Systems: Hybrid systems that combine the Kalina Cycle with other power generation technologies, such as ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle) systems or gas turbines, are being explored to improve overall system efficiency and flexibility.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Enhanced Working Fluid Formulations
  • Next-Generation Turbine Technologies
  • Scalable Modular Plant Designs
  • Hybrid Kalina Cycle Systems
  • Miniaturized Kalina Cycle Solutions
  • Efficiency-enhancing Separator Designs
  • Innovative Condenser Configurations
  • High-pressure Pump Innovations
  • Smart Grid Integration Strategies
  • Sustainable Cooling Medium Solutions
  • Adaptive Control Systems
  • Kalina Cycle in Space Exploration

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Exergy International:
    • Technology Enhancement: Exergy International specializes in the design, engineering, and manufacturing of power generation systems, including Kalina Cycle power plants. The Kalina Cycle is a thermodynamic cycle that enhances the efficiency of conventional power plants by using a mixture of two fluids with different boiling points to optimize energy conversion. Exergy’s expertise lies in integrating the Kalina Cycle technology into various types of power generation systems, such as geothermal, biomass, and waste heat recovery.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Exergy International stands out for its focus on innovation in energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions. Their Kalina Cycle power plants offer higher efficiency and lower environmental impact compared to traditional power generation technologies, making them suitable for applications where sustainability and cost-effectiveness are priorities.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Exergy International serves a diverse range of industries and applications, including utilities, industrial plants, and renewable energy projects. Their Kalina Cycle power plants are deployed in geothermal fields, industrial processes, and waste heat recovery systems, providing efficient and reliable power generation solutions to meet the specific needs of each customer.
  2. Turboden:
    • Technology Enhancement: Turboden is a leading provider of Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) systems, including Kalina Cycle power plants, for decentralized power generation and waste heat recovery applications. Their Kalina Cycle solutions utilize a proprietary mixture of working fluids to optimize energy conversion and increase power generation efficiency. Turboden’s ORC systems are modular, scalable, and suitable for a wide range of heat sources, including biomass, industrial waste heat, and geothermal resources.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Turboden stands out for its extensive experience in ORC technology and its commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency. Their Kalina Cycle power plants offer flexibility, reliability, and high performance, making them ideal for distributed power generation and industrial applications where waste heat recovery is a priority.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Turboden serves industries and sectors seeking efficient and environmentally friendly power generation solutions. Their Kalina Cycle power plants are deployed in biomass plants, industrial processes, and geothermal fields worldwide, providing clean and cost-effective electricity generation while reducing carbon emissions and environmental impact.
  3. Wasabi Energy:
    • Technology Enhancement: Wasabi Energy specializes in the development and deployment of advanced energy solutions, including Kalina Cycle power plants, for sustainable power generation and waste heat recovery. Their Kalina Cycle systems utilize a unique mixture of ammonia and water to maximize energy conversion efficiency and minimize environmental impact. Wasabi Energy’s solutions are designed to integrate seamlessly with existing power generation infrastructure, offering a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to conventional power plants.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Wasabi Energy stands out for its innovative approach to energy generation and its focus on delivering scalable and adaptable solutions for a wide range of applications. Their Kalina Cycle power plants are designed to meet the specific needs of each customer, offering customized solutions for decentralized power generation, industrial processes, and renewable energy projects.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Wasabi Energy serves industries, utilities, and governments seeking reliable and sustainable power generation solutions. Their Kalina Cycle power plants are deployed in geothermal fields, biomass plants, and industrial facilities worldwide, providing clean, efficient, and cost-effective electricity generation while reducing reliance on fossil fuels and minimizing environmental impact.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Technical University of Munich (TUM):
    • Research Focus: TUM is renowned for its research on Kalina Cycle Power Plants, with a focus on optimizing the performance and efficiency of waste heat recovery systems in industrial settings.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves developing advanced thermodynamic models, heat exchanger designs, and process control strategies tailored to specific industrial applications. They also explore novel working fluid compositions, cycle configurations, and integration with existing power generation technologies to enhance overall system performance and economic viability.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in various industrial sectors, including steel, cement, chemicals, and manufacturing. By recovering waste heat and converting it into electricity using Kalina Cycle Power Plants, TUM’s research contributes to energy efficiency improvements, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, and cost savings for industrial facilities.
  2. University of Liège (Belgium):
    • Research Focus: The University of Liège conducts pioneering research on Kalina Cycle Power Plants for Industrial Waste Heat Recovery, leveraging its expertise in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and sustainable energy systems.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses experimental studies, numerical simulations, and techno-economic assessments of Kalina Cycle-based waste heat recovery systems under various operating conditions and industrial environments. They also investigate the integration of renewable energy sources, energy storage technologies, and waste heat utilization strategies to achieve synergies and maximize overall energy efficiency.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in heavy industries, such as steelmaking, petrochemicals, and food processing. By harnessing waste heat resources through Kalina Cycle Power Plants, the University of Liège’s research supports the transition to a circular economy, resource conservation, and sustainable industrial development.
  3. National University of Singapore (NUS):
    • Research Focus: NUS is engaged in innovative research on Kalina Cycle Power Plants, aiming to address the challenges and opportunities associated with industrial waste heat recovery in the context of urban sustainability and climate change mitigation.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves developing integrated energy systems models, optimization algorithms, and decision support tools for assessing the techno-economic feasibility and environmental impacts of Kalina Cycle-based waste heat recovery projects. They also investigate policy frameworks, regulatory incentives, and market mechanisms to promote the adoption of waste heat recovery technologies and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in urban-industrial symbiosis, district energy systems, and sustainable urban development. By leveraging Kalina Cycle Power Plants for industrial waste heat recovery, NUS’s research contributes to energy security, climate resilience, and green growth initiatives in urban environments.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Kalina Cycle power plants have been implemented in various commercial projects around the world, primarily for geothermal power generation and waste heat recovery in industrial facilities. For example, the Husavik Geothermal Power Plant in Iceland utilizes Kalina Cycle technology to generate electricity from geothermal resources.