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Materials Science at Oregon State University

Carbon Dioxide: The Only Thing We Want Supercritical in a Nuclear Power Plant

Date: Thursday, Apr 24th
Presenter: Mark Anderson, University of Wisconsin


The importance of improved efficiency, reduced capital cost and higher operational temperature of future power production has led to renewed interest in studying advanced Brayton cycles utilizing supercritical carbon dioxide as the working fluid for high temperature energy conversion. Previous work conducted by Dostal et al. 2006 has shown that the supercritical CO2 recompression cycle proposed by Feher may be superior to other advanced high temperature cycles both from the standpoint of increased thermal efficiency as well as reduced size and cost of the required turbo-machinery components. These advantages make the cycle especially well-suited for any high temperature reactor system including the, the Sodium-Cooled Fast Reactor (SFR), the Fluoride Salt-Cooled High Temperature Reactor (FHR), the Lead-Cooled Fast Reactor (LFR) and the Very High Temperature Reactor (VHTR). The cycle is also of interest for use in Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems and has recently become of interest for use in fossil fuel power production to aid in CO2 reduction and sequestration. In order to realize these goals and demonstrate the applicability of this cycle several key fundamental phenomena need to be further understood. As an effort to advance this technology the University of Wisconsin is conducting research in the following different areas:

• Highly instrumented heat transfer and pressure drop experiments on Printed circuit heat exchangers (PCHE) geometries
• Development and implement of optimized fluid property algorithms within the Plant Dynamics Code and CFD
• Experiments to investigate the critical flow of the supercritical fluid through shaft seals and valve components.
• Materials compatibility and S-CO2 corrosion

This talk will give a quick overview of some of the above research and how it relates to the future development of advanced s-CO2 Brayton power cycles. It will also elucidate the interesting phenomena associated with supercritical fluids.


• Feher, E.G. The Supercritical Thermodynamic Power Cycle. in Douglas Paper No. 4348, presented to the IECEC. August 12-17, 1967. Miami Beach, Florida.
• Dostal, V.e.a., The supercritical carbon dioxide power cycle: Comparision to other advanced power cycles. Nuclear Technology, 2006. 154: p. 23.

Dr. Mark Anderson is a Professor in the department of Engineering Physics and director of the University of Wisconsin's Thermal Hydraulic Laboratory. He has research groups working on supercritical fluid heat transfer, turbomachinery and materials. Dr. Anderson has worked on supercritical fluids for about eight years starting with work on the GENIV supercritical water reactor designs. He is currently the US representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for the coordinated research project on supercritical water reactors and has several projects working the S-CO2 brayton power cycle for solar, nuclear and fossil energy conversion. He is an active member of the American Nuclear Society (ANS), the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Dr. Anderson was recently awarded the young investigator engineering achievement award from the American Nuclear Society for his work on turbulent heat transfer measurements in supercritical fluids and other areas. Dr. Anderson earned his bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Wisconsin -River Falls and his doctorate in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. He has been awarded 3 patents and has published over 150 papers. His work has included experimental research on supercritical fluids, LWRs passive safety systems, liquid salt heat transfer, liquid sodium heat transfer, heat storage systems, high energy density physics, reactor materials, and advanced optical diagnostics.