Supercritical CO2 Cycle Development at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne

by Gregory A. Johnson & Michael W. McDowell
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne

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Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s extensive experience in both the rocket engine and energy industries, provides an effective underpinning for work in supercritical CO2 power cycle development. Our current thrusts are supercritical CO2 power conversion for a LMR, a solar power system using molten salt energy storage, and a zero emission coal power system. Key observations from our nuclear power application work is that large, highly-effective heat exchangers will need to be developed, system architecture is driven by start-up operations, etc. along with steady-state full-power operations, and the large volumetric flow rates associated with this cycle coupled with the desire to keep pressure losses low will lead to parallel runs of large diameter pipe. Our solar power work is focused on developing a system architecture that can take advantage of the full thermal storage temperature spectrum while maintaining the high-efficiency and low-cost potential of this cycle. And in the fossil-fuel arena, the efficiency improvements derived from supercritical CO2 are particularly interesting as a way to make up the losses that are caused by CO2 sequestration.