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PBMR Desalination Options: An Economic Study

[+] Author Affiliations
Riaan de Bruyn, Jan P. Van Ravenswaay

M-Tech Industrial (Pty.) Ltd., Potchefstroom, North-West, South Africa

Ryan Hannink, Reiner Kuhr, Nick Zervos, Kishna Bhagat

Shaw Group, Boston, MA

Paper No. HTR2008-58212, pp. 287-292; 6 pages
  • Fourth International Topical Meeting on High Temperature Reactor Technology
  • Fourth International Topical Meeting on High Temperature Reactor Technology, Volume 2
  • Washington, DC, USA, September 28–October 1, 2008
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4855-5 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3834-1
  • Copyright © 2008 by ASME


The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR), under development in South Africa, is an advanced helium-cooled graphite moderated high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactor. The heat output of the PBMR is primarily suited for process applications or power generation. In addition, various desalination technologies can be coupled to the PBMR to further improve the overall efficiency and economics, where suitable site opportunities exist. Several desalination application concepts were evaluated for both a cogeneration configuration as well as a waste heat utilization configuration. These options were evaluated to compare the relative economics of the different concepts and to determine the feasibility of each configuration. The cogeneration desalination configuration included multiple PBMR units producing steam for a power cycle, using a back-pressure steam turbine generator exhausting into different thermal desalination technologies. These technologies include Multi-Effect Distillation (MED), Multi-Effect Distillation with Thermal Vapor Compression (MED-TVC) as well as Multi-Stage Flash (MSF) with all making use of extraction steam from backpressure turbines. These configurations are optimized to maximize gross revenue from combined power and desalinated water sales using representative economic assumptions with a sensitivity analysis to observe the impact of varying power and water costs. Increasing turbine back pressure results in a loss of power output but a gain in water production. The desalination systems are compared as incremental investments. A standard MED process with minimal effects appears most attractive, although results are very sensitive with regards to projected power and water values. The waste heat utilization desalination configuration is based on the current 165 MWe PBMR Demonstration Power Plant (DPP) to be built for the South African utility Eskom. This demonstration plant is proposed at the Koeberg Nuclear site and utilizes a direct, single shaft recuperative Brayton Cycle with helium as working fluid. The Brayton Cycle uses a pre-cooler and inter-cooler to cool the helium before entering the low-pressure compressor (LPC) and the high-pressure compressor (HPC) respectively. The pre-cooler and intercooler rejects 218 MWt of waste heat at 73°C and 63°C, respectively. This waste heat is ideally suited for some low temperature desalination processes and can be used without negative impact on the power output and efficiency of the nuclear power plant. These low temperature processes include Low Temperature Multi-Effect Distillation (LT-MED) as well Reverse Osmosis (RO) with pre-heated water. The relative economics of these design concepts are compared as add-ons to the PBMR-DPP and the results include a net present value (NPV) study for both technologies. From this study it can be concluded that both RO as well LT-MED provide water at reasonable production rates, although a final study recommendation would be based on site and area specific requirements.

Copyright © 2008 by ASME



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