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Title: Concept Design for a High Temperature Helium Brayton Cycle with Interstage Heating and Cooling

The primary metric for the viability of these next generation nuclear power plants will be the cost of generated electricity. One important component in achieving these objectives is the development of power conversion technologies that maximize the electrical power output of these advanced reactors for a given thermal power. More efficient power conversion systems can directly reduce the cost of nuclear generated electricity and therefore advanced power conversion cycle research is an important area of investigation for the Generation IV Program. Brayton cycles using inert or other gas working fluids, have the potential to take advantage of the higher outlet temperature range of Generation IV systems and allow substantial increases in nuclear power conversion efficiency, and potentially reductions in power conversion system capital costs compared to the steam Rankine cycle used in current light water reactors. For the Very High Temperature Reactor (VHTR), Helium Brayton cycles which can operate in the 900 to 950 C range have been the focus of power conversion research. Previous Generation IV studies examined several options for He Brayton cycles that could increase efficiency with acceptable capital cost implications. At these high outlet temperatures, Interstage Heating and Cooling (IHC) was shown to provide significant efficiencymore » improvement (a few to 12%) but required increased system complexity and therefore had potential for increased costs. These scoping studies identified the potential for increased efficiency, but a more detailed analysis of the turbomachinery and heat exchanger sizes and costs was needed to determine whether this approach could be cost effective. The purpose of this study is to examine the turbomachinery and heat exchanger implications of interstage heating and cooling configurations. In general, this analysis illustrates that these engineering considerations introduce new constraints to the design of IHC systems that may require different power conversion configurations to take advantage of the possible efficiency improvement. Very high efficiency gains can be achieved with the IHC approach, but this can require large low pressure turbomachinery or heat exchanger components, whose cost may mitigate the efficiency gain. One stage of interstage cooling is almost always cost effective, but careful optimization of system characteristics is needed for more complex configurations. This report summarizes the primary factors that must be considered in evaluating this approach to more efficient cycles, and the results of the engineering analysis performed to explore these options for Generation IV high temperature reactors.« less
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  1. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States