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Research Papers

Mass Optimization of a Supercritical CO2 Brayton Cycle Power Conversion System for a Mars Surface Fission Power Reactor

[+] Author and Article Information
Kurt E. Harris

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,
Utah State University,
Logan, UT 84322
e-mail: kuharris@gmail.com

Kevin J. Schillo

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,
University of Alabama in Huntsville,
Huntsville, AL 35899
e-mail: kjs0011@uah.edu

Yayu M. Hew

Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering,
Stanford University,
Stanford, CA 94305
e-mail: ymhew@stanford.edu

Akansha Kumar

Center for Space Nuclear Research,
Idaho National Laboratory,
Idaho Falls, ID 83401
e-mail: akansha.tamu@gmail.com

Steven D. Howe

Talos Power LLC,
Idaho Falls, ID 83402
e-mail: showe@hbartech.com

Manuscript received October 24, 2016; final manuscript received February 6, 2017; published online May 25, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Mark Anderson.

ASME J of Nuclear Rad Sci 3(3), 031006 (May 25, 2017) (7 pages) Paper No: NERS-16-1147; doi: 10.1115/1.4035974 History: Received October 24, 2016; Revised February 06, 2017

In the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Design Reference Architecture 5.0 (DRA 5.0), fission surface power systems (FSPS) are described as “enabling for the human exploration of Mars.” This study investigates the design of a power conversion system (PCS) based on supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) Brayton configurations for a growing Martian colony. Various configurations utilizing regeneration, intercooling (IC), and reheating are analyzed. A model to estimate the mass of the PCS is developed and used to obtain a realistic mass-optimized configuration. This mass model is conservative, being based on simple concentric tube counterflow heat exchangers and published data regarding turbomachinery masses. For load following and redundancy purposes, the FSPS consists of three 333 kWe reactors and PCS to provide a total of 1 MWe for 15 years. The optimal configuration is a sCO2 Brayton cycle with 60% regeneration and two stages of intercooling. The majority of the analyses are performed in matlab, with certain data provided by a comsol multiphysics model of part of a low-enriched uranium (LEU) ceramic metallic (CERMET) reactor core.

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References

Drake, B. G., ed., 2009, “ Human Exploration of Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0,” NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, Report No. NASA/SP-2009-566-ADD.
Mason, L. S. , 2001, “ A Comparison of Brayton and Stirling Space Nuclear Power Systems for Power Levels From 1 Kilowatt to 10 Megawatts,” NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH, Report No. NASA/TM-2001-210593.
Mason, L. S. , 2006, “ A Comparison of Fission Power System Options for Lunar and Mars Surface Applications,” NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH, Report No. NASA/TM-2006-214120.
Schillo, K. J. , Kumar, A. , Harris, K. E. , Hew, Y. M. , and Howe, S. E. , 2016, “ Neutronics and Thermal Hydraulics Analysis of a Low-Enriched Uranium Cermet Fuel Core for a Mars Surface Power Reactor,” Ann. Nucl. Energy, 96, pp. 307–312. [CrossRef]
Tarlecki, J. , Lior, N. , and Zhang, N. , 2007, “ Analysis of Thermal Cycles and Working Fluids for Power Generation in Space,” Energy Convers. Manage., 48(11), pp. 2864–2878. [CrossRef]
Conboy, T. M. , Carlson, M. D. , and Rochau, G. E. , 2015, “ Dry-Cooled Supercritical CO2 Power for Advanced Nuclear Reactors,” ASME J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power, 137(1), p. 012901. [CrossRef]
NIST, 2013, “ Thermophysical Properties of Fluid Systems,” National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, accessed July 10, 2015, http://webbook.nist.gov/chemistry/fluid/
Oh, C. , Lillo, T. , Windes, W. , Totemeier, T. , and Moore, R. , 2004, “ Development of a Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Brayton Cycle: Improving PBR Efficiency and Testing Material Compatability,” Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID, Report No. INEEL/EXT-04-02437.
Çengel, Y. A. , and Boles, M. A. , 2015, Thermodynamics: An Engineering Approach, 8th ed., McGraw-Hill Education, New York.
Bergman, T. L. , Lavine, A. S. , Incropera, F. P. , and Dewitt, D. P. , 2011, Fundamentals of Heat and Mass Transfer, 7th ed., Wiley, Hoboken, NJ.
IEA GHG, 2009, “ Upgraded Calculator for CO2 Pipeline Systems,” IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme, Cheltenham, UK.
Wetch, J. R. , 1988, “ Megawatt Class Nuclear Space Power Systems (MCNSPS) Conceptual Design and Evaluation Report,” NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH, Report No. NASA CR-179614.

Figures

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Fig. 1

Radial overview of reactor core [4]

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Fig. 2

Core loop consists of a core, which heats a coolant fluid, then passes it to reheaters, then to the intermediate heat exchanger, and then to the external heat exchanger for the core loop

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Fig. 3

Power cycle loop consists of compression, intercooling, regeneration, primary heating, expansion, reheating, and primary heat rejection

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Fig. 4

T–s (temperature versus entropy) (a) and P–v (pressure versus specific volume) (b) diagrams for an ideal Brayton cycle configuration with no regeneration, intercooling, or reheating

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Fig. 5

T–s (a) and P–v (b) diagrams for an ideal Brayton cycle configuration with no regeneration, intercooling, or reheating

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Fig. 6

Trade study of regeneration effectiveness, analyzing (a) cycle efficiency and (b) net work out. A mass-optimized effectiveness occurs around 60%.

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Fig. 7

Trade studies of intercooling and reheating, analyzing (a) cycle efficiency and (b) net work out

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Fig. 8

Trade study of turbine inlet temperature, analyzing (a) cycle efficiency and (b) net work out

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Fig. 9

Trade study of compressor inlet temperature, analyzing (a) cycle efficiency and (b) net work out

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Fig. 10

Trade study of turbine inlet pressure, analyzing (a) cycle efficiency and (b) net work out

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Fig. 11

Trade study of pressure ratio, analyzing (a) cycle efficiency and (b) net work out

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Fig. 12

Trade study of isentropic efficiencies of turbines and compressors, analyzing (a) cycle efficiency and (b) net work out

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Fig. 13

Trade study of all configurations

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