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NGNP Process Heat Utilization: Liquid Metal Phase Change Heat Exchanger

[+] Author Affiliations
Piyush Sabharwall, Vivek Utgikar, Fred Gunnerson

University of Idaho, Idaho Falls, ID

Mike Patterson

Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID

Paper No. HTR2008-58197, pp. 725-732; 8 pages
  • Fourth International Topical Meeting on High Temperature Reactor Technology
  • Fourth International Topical Meeting on High Temperature Reactor Technology, Volume 1
  • Washington, DC, USA, September 28–October 1, 2008
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4854-8 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3834-1
  • Copyright © 2008 by ASME


One key long-standing issue that must be overcome to fully realize the successful growth of nuclear power is to determine other benefits of nuclear energy apart from meeting the electricity demands. The Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) will most likely be producing electricity and heat for the production of hydrogen and/or oil retrieval from oil sands and oil shale to help in our national pursuit of energy independence. For nuclear process heat to be utilized, intermediate heat exchange is required to transfer heat from the NGNP to the hydrogen plant or oil recovery field in the most efficient way possible. Development of nuclear reactor-process heat technology has intensified the interest in liquid metals as heat transfer media because of their ideal transport properties. Liquid metal heat exchangers are not new in practical applications. An important rationale for considering liquid metals as the working fluid is because of the higher convective heat transfer coefficient. This explains the interest in liquid metals as coolant for intermediate heat exchange from NGNP. The production of electric power at higher efficiency via the Brayton Cycle, and hydrogen production, requires both heat at higher temperatures and high effectiveness compact heat exchangers to transfer heat to either the power or process cycle. Compact heat exchangers maximize the heat transfer surface area per volume of heat exchanger; this has the benefit of reducing heat exchanger size and heat losses. High temperature IHX design requirements are governed in part by the allowable temperature drop between the outlet of NGNP and inlet of the process heat facility. In order to improve the characteristics of heat transfer, liquid metal phase change heat exchangers may be more effective and efficient. This paper explores the overall heat transfer characteristics and pressure drop of the phase change heat exchanger with Na as the heat exchanger coolant. In order to design a very efficient and effective heat exchanger one must optimize the design such that we have a high heat transfer and a lower pressure drop, but there is always a tradeoff between them. Based on NGNP operational parameters, a heat exchanger analysis with the sodium phase change is presented to show that the heat exchanger has the potential for highly effective heat transfer, within a small volume at reasonable cost.

Copyright © 2008 by ASME



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