On the adoption of carbon dioxide thermodynamic cycles for nuclear power conversion: A case study applied to Mochovce 3 Nuclear Power Plant
Authors: Lorenzo Santini, Carlo Accornero, Andrea Cioncolini
Journal: Applied Energy
Publication Date: 24 August, 2016
Department of: Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering
Towards cheaper nuclear power
The use of carbon dioxide cycle technology in pressurized water-cooled nuclear power stations can greatly reduce construction time and installation cost.
The development of the UK New Build Programme is currently under way: it had been proposed to build in total 12 new reactors by 2030, adding 16 GW of new nuclear capacity at an estimated cost of £100 billion. Due to their intrinsic complexity, nuclear power stations are very expensive to build, so that design innovations and new technologies that can help reduce their construction cost are actively investigated.
In pressurized water nuclear power stations, the heat generated in the reactor core is used to produce high-pressure steam to run the turbines and produce electricity. Now, researchers at ENEL Produzione SpA (Rome) and the University of Manchester have teamed up to examine the feasibility of replacing steam turbines with carbon dioxide turbines in existing nuclear power stations. Using real data from nuclear plant to corroborate the analysis, the researchers found that the use of carbon dioxide in place of steam would yield ten times more compact turbines and associated machinery, with huge potential savings on construction times, installation costs and plant footprint, and notably without penalizing the plant efficiency.
- Pressurized water-cooled nuclear reactors account for the majority of the nuclear power stations worldwide.
- Steam turbines and associated machinery are bulky due to the very low density of the steam discharged at the last stage of the turbines.
- Carbon dioxide can be used instead and operated at much higher density than steam.
- Smaller components are generally less expensive to build, install and maintain.
- Future work will consider other nuclear reactor designs.