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Publication Title | Brayton Power Cycles for Electricity Generation from Fusion Reactors

Organic Rankine Cycle

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Journal of Energy and Power Engineering 5 (2011) 590-599

Brayton Power Cycles for Electricity Generation from Fusion Reactors

J.I. Linares1, L.E. Herranz2, B.Y. Moratilla1 and I.P. Serrano1

1. Comillas Pontifical University, Chair Rafael Mariño of New Energy Technologies, Madrid 28015, Spain 2. Unit of Nuclear Safety Research, CIEMAT, Madrid 28040, Spain

Received: August 15, 2010 / Accepted: December 29, 2010 / Published: July 31, 2011.

Abstract: Brayton power cycles for fusion reactors have been investigated, using Helium in classical configurations and CO2 in a recompression layout. Thermal sources from the reactor have strongly constrained the cycle configurations, hindering use of a recuperator in Helium cycles and conditioning the outlet turbine temperature in CO2 ones. In both cycles, it is possible to take advantage of the exhaust thermal energy by coupling the Brayton to a Rankine cycle, with an organic fluid in the helium case (iso-butane has been investigated) and steam in the CO2 case. The highest efficiency achieved with Helium cycle is 38.5% using Organic Rankine Cycle and 32.6% with Helium alone. The efficiency changes from 46.7% using Rankine cycle to 41% with CO2 alone. The Helium cycle is highly sensitive to turbine efficiency and in a moderate way to compressor efficiency and pressure drops, being nearly insensitive to thermal effectiveness in heat exchangers. On the other hand, CO2 is nearly insensitive to all the parameters.

Key words: Brayton cycles, fusion technology, CO2 recompression cycles, organic Rankine cycles.

1. Introduction

Forecasts of mid- and long-term energy demand along with increasing concern for environmental issues are pointing the need for additional large scale CO2-free sources of energy. Nuclear fusion has the potential to meet those conditions by using an inexhaustible primary fuel source that would produce a minimum environmental burden. Even though there is still a long way to go, the ITER project (International Thermo-nuclear Experimental Reactor) is expected to result in key scientific and technological achievements to make fusion power production a reality. In this regard, developments in areas such as material performance, safety and thermal-to-power conversion will play a key role. On this basis, a domestic R&D program called TECNO_FUS [1] was launched in Spain in 2009 to support technological developments

Corresponding author: L.E. Herranz, professor, research fields: power cycles, heat transfer and aerosol transport, nuclear safety. E-mail:

related to a specific concept of dual-coolant (He/Pb-Li) breeding blanket (TBM, Tritium Blanket Module). The dual-coolant blanket is one of the advanced concepts to be pursued within the European long-term power plant conceptual study. Its main characteristic are the use of self-cooled breeding zones with Pb-Li acting both as a breeder and as a coolant at the same time and the use of helium-cooled ferritic/martensitic steel structure and the use of SiCf/SiC flow channel inserts serving as electrical and thermal insulators [2].

In TECNO_FUS program a few areas are being investigated, from H3 production to potential advanced materials behavior, going through unavoidable safety studies. One of the areas of major interest is the efficient conversion of thermal energy to power. This paper describes the latest results obtained in this field through investigation of potential Brayton power cycles.

The thermal energy produced through the fusion reaction in the plasma gets eventually deposited on two locations in a fusion power plant: the breeding blanket module and the divertor, at the bottom of the vacuum

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