Engineering design elements of a two-phase thermosyphon to transfer nuclear thermal energy to a hydrogen plant


Sabharwall, Piyush.. (2009). Engineering design elements of a two-phase thermosyphon to transfer nuclear thermal energy to a hydrogen plant. Theses and Dissertations Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Collections.

Engineering design elements of a two-phase thermosyphon to transfer nuclear thermal energy to a hydrogen plant
Sabharwall, Piyush.
Thermosyphons--Design and construction Nuclear reactors--Materials--Thermal properties
Nuclear Engineering
Two hydrogen production processes, both powered by Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP), are currently under investigation at the Idaho National Laboratory. The first is high-temperature steam electrolysis utilizing both heat and electricity and the second is thermo-chemical production through the sulfur-iodine process primarily utilizing heat. Both processes require high temperature (>850{deg}C) for enhanced efficiency; temperatures indicative of NGNP. Safety and licensing mandates prudently dictate that the NGNP and the hydrogen production facility be physically isolated, perhaps requiring separation of over 100m. There are several options to transferring multi-megawatt thermal power over such a distance. One option is simply to produce only electricity, transfer by wire to the hydrogen plant, and then reconvert the electric energy to heat via Joule or induction heating. Electrical transport, however, suffers energy losses of 60-70% due to the thermal to electric conversion inherent in the Brayton cycle. A second option is thermal energy transport via a single-phase forced convection loop where a fluid is mechanically pumped between heat exchangers at the nuclear and hydrogen plants. High temperatures, however, present unique materials and pumping challenges. Single phase, low pressure helium is an attractive option for NGNP, but is not suitable for a single purpose facility dictated to hydrogen production because low pressure helium requires higher pumping power and makes the process very inefficient. A third option is two-phase heat transfer utilizing a high temperature thermosyphon. Heat transport occurs via evaporation and condensation, and the heat transport fluid is re-circulated by gravitational force. Thermosyphon has the capability to transport heat at high rates over appreciable distances, virtually isothermally and without any requirement for external pumping devices.;For process heat, intermediate heat exchangers (IHX) are desired to transfer heat from the NGNP to the hydrogen plant in the most efficient way possible. The production of power at higher efficiency using Brayton Cycle, and hydrogen production requires both heat at higher temperatures (up to 1000{deg}C) and high effectiveness compact heat exchangers to transfer heat to either the power or process cycle. The purpose in selecting a compact heat exchanger is to maximize the heat transfer surface area per volume of heat exchanger; this has the benefit of reducing heat exchanger size and heat losses. The IHX design requirements are governed by the allowable temperature drop between the outlet of the NGNP (900{deg}C, based on the current capabilities of NGNP), and the temperatures in the hydrogen production plant. Spiral Heat Exchangers (SHEs) have superior heat transfer characteristics, and are less susceptible to fouling. Further, heat losses to surroundings are minimized because of its compact configuration. SHEs have never been examined for phase-change heat transfer applications. The research presented provides useful information for thermosyphon design and Spiral Heat Exchanger.;This research provides useful insight in making decisions regarding the thermosyphon heat transfer system between the nuclear reactor and chemical plant. Development of very high-temperature reactor technologies for the production of electricity, hydrogen and other energy products is a high priority for a successful national energy future.
Thesis (Ph. D., Nuclear Engineering)--University of Idaho, January 30, 2009.
Major Professor:
Fred Gunnerson.
Defense Date:
January 30, 2009.
Format Original:
xxx, 310 leaves :ill. (some col.) ;29 cm.

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