Overview of Naval Reactors Program Development of the Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Brayton System

by John Ashcroft, Kenneth Kimball, & Michael Corcoran
Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory

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The Naval Reactors (NR) Program, and its two Prime Contractor Laboratories, Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL) and Bettis Laboratory, are exploring the supercritical carbon dioxide (S-CO2) Brayton energy conversion system. This non-ideal gas Brayton system may offer improved efficiency and power density relative to ideal gas Brayton systems and may offer physical and operational simplicity relative to a saturated or superheated steam Rankine system. The NR Program work has included initial concept development and integration with S-CO2 flow and heat transfer measurements, instrumentation development, leak testing, and materials compatibility testing. System testing work has also been initiated, both in-house and through component vendor development. The design of a 100 kWe integrated system test (IST) is underway with planned operation in 2010. Initial scoping of a 1-3 MWe S-CO2 system test (SCST) is underway.