Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Power Cycle Selection and Optimization for a Small Modular Reactor Public Deposited

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  • As a way to improve safety and economics, one area of research and commercialization of new nuclear power plants has focused on the development of small modular reactors (SMRs). NuScale Power has developed a 50 MWe natural convection cooling SMR coupled with a regenerative Rankine cycle. Current estimates place the NuScale SMR plant at a competitive levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), but there is continued interest to improve the economics of the system. This paper provides a research review and analysis of alternative power cycle designs well suited for the NuScale SMR. Alternative cycles are analyzed for overall cycle efficiency, 2nd law exergy efficiencies, capital cost, and plant (LCOE). These results are compared to the baseline regenerative Rankine cycle via optimization techniques. Results reveal two cycles, regenerative reheat Rankine and transcritical ethanol, have promise as alternative cycles. While both cycles had higher estimated capital costs, the additional power produced reduced the LCOE by 5.1 ± 4.0% for the regenerative reheat Rankine cycle and 4.8 ± 4.8% for the transcritical ethanol cycle, when compared to the regenerative Rankine cycle. The regenerative reheat Rankine cycle would be the simplest cycle to integrate into the NuScale SMR as it is similar to the baseline regenerative Rankine cycle. Conversely, the transcritical ethanol cycle would require more research to assess the viability, but has greater potential to improve the economics of the system.
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