. The aim of this work is to perform the preliminary design of a turbo-expander that meets diverse system requirements such as low pressure, small size and low mass flow rates. The expander must be adaptable to a small ORC system utilizing gas of a diesel engine or small gas turbine as thermal source to produce 2–10 kW of electricity. The temperature and pressure of the exhaust gases, in this case study (400–600 °C and a pressure of 2 bar), imposes a limit on the use of an organic fluid and on the net power that can be produced. In addition to water, fluids such as CO2, R134a and R245fa have been considered. Once the operating fluids has been chosen, the turbine characteristics (dimensions, input and output temperature, pressure ratio, etc.) have been calculated and an attempt to find the “nearly-optimal” combination has been carried out. The detailed design of a radial expander is presented and discussed. A thermo-mechanical performance study was carry out to verify structural tension and possible displacement. On the other hand, preliminary CFD analyses have been performed to verify the effectiveness of the design procedure.