Design of Compact Intermediate Heat Exchangers for Gas Cooled Fast Reactors
Author(s)Gezelius, K.; Driscoll, Michael J. ;; Hejzlar, Pavel
Advanced Nuclear Power Technology Program (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
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Two aspects of an intermediate heat exchanger (IHX) for GFR service have been investigated: (1) the intrinsic characteristics of the proposed compact printed circuit heat exchanger (PCHE); and (2) a specific design optimizing economic and technical efficiency while coupling a supercritical CO[subscript 2] Brayton power cycle to a helium cooled fast reactor core. In particular, the wavy channel friction factor and the effective conduction thickness between channels were evaluated by simulations using state of the art software (Fluent[superscript TM]). To support the competitiveness of the PCHE, it was directly compared to other potential IHX candidates with respect to performance and size for identical operating conditions. All PCHE modeling conservatively assumed straight channels and was carried out using an MIT in-house code. The PCHEs designed specifically for the He/S-CO[subscript 2] cycle were designed to be deployed in a prestressed cast iron reactor vessel (PCIV) pod and to permit a net cycle efficiency of at least 40%. Optimization theory, sensitivity studies, and thermal-hydraulic constraints contributed to shaping the final design. The friction factor analysis showed that the correlations cited in the literature overestimate the value by approximately a factor of two. As regards the effective conduction thickness ratio, it was found to be around 0.6 for a 2.0 mm channel diameter. Since the value of the ratio employed in the MIT in-house code is 1.0, the results generated by the code should be conservative. Comparing the competing IHX types clearly illustrated the advantages of using a compact design, thus favoring PCHEs and plate-fin designs. A maximum net cycle efficiency of 40.9% was achieved for the proposed cycle utilizing a low-pressure-drop reference core. The cost and core volume of this 600 MWt PCHE design were estimated to be $2.4M and 16.4 m[superscript 3], respectively. The largest uncertainty associated with the computations is whether the PCIV pod provides sufficient space for deployment of the PCHE, a blower, and other ancillary equipment. However, studies of PCHEs based on zig-zag channels indicate that the compactness can be further enhanced by a factor of 2 to 3 thanks to the increased heat transfer capability of the saw-tooth channel geometry. More research is needed to verify this projection.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems. Advanced Nuclear Power Program