Isobaric Expansion Engines–Compressors: Thermodynamic Analysis of Multistage Vapor Driven Compressors

Alexander Kronberg*, Maxim Glushenkov, Sander Roosjen, Sascha Kersten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Isobaric expansion (IE) engines can directly convert heat into mechanical energy, making them particularly attractive for applications such as vapor-driven pumps and compressors. A recent initial assessment investigating the utilization of IE engines as vapor-driven reciprocating compressors has revealed that the vapor use efficiency is inherently low in the case of the simplest direct-acting compressor designs. Based on this analysis, it was anticipated that multistage compression can offer significant advantages for vapor-driven compressors. Therefore, this paper aims to conduct a comprehensive analytical thermodynamic analysis of direct vapor-driven multistage reciprocating compressors. The analysis considers processes without intercooling and processes with intercooling of the compressed gas between stages. The findings demonstrate that, for vapor-driven compression, the benefits of multistage compression are superior to those known for conventional compression processes. Multistage vapor-driven compression not only reduces compression work and temperature elevation but, more importantly, mitigates the adverse effects on vapor compression of the driving vapor, thereby enabling a substantial improvement in vapor utilization efficiency. Furthermore, the total volume of the IE engine compressor experiences a significant decrease with an increasing number of stages. Consequently, under specific process parameters, the overall dimensions of the engine-compressor system may also decrease as the number of stages increases. The results offer significant opportunities for energy savings in energy-intensive compression processes by replacing electrical energy with readily available low-grade heat sources (<100 °C). Such processes include hydrogen, air, and ethylene compression at high pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6791
Number of pages15
Issue number19
Early online date24 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • energy efficiency
  • heat-driven compressor
  • hydrogen compressor
  • isobaric expansion engine
  • multistage compression


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