Materials Development for HTGR Heat Exchangers
Abstract: High-temperature, gas-cooled reactors (HTGR’s) are uranium/thorium-fueled, graphite-moderated, helium-cooled systems capable of producing high-temperature primary coolant. Several variants of this system are under active development in the United States and worldwide. In one version, the primary coolant heat is transferred to steam generators producing 538°C/16.5 MPa steam for use in electricity generation or process heat applications. The materials and design technology for steam generators in this system are well developed, relying heavily upon prior experience with fossil-fired steam generators and the steam generators of the commercial HTGR’s. The major work that remains to be done is to complete qualification of the materials and to respond to evolving rules pertinent to elevated-temperature nuclear design and construction. Other versions of the HTGR generate much higher primary coolant gas temperatures (850° to 950°C) and exchange this heat, through intermediate heat exchangers (IHX’s), to a secondary loop for higher temperature process heat applications. Although IHX’s for these systems are typically pressure-balanced (low-stress) units, their design involves several challenges, including the potential interactions between structural materials and impurities present in the HTGR primary coolant. Considerable work is required to qualify materials for IHX applications, including detailed mechanical property characterization, determination of environmental influences on performance, provision of welding materials and procedures for producing joints of adequate strength and integrity, and provisions for wear protection. Some of the work currently under way addressing these issues is described.
Keywords: Heat exchangers / Very high temperature reactors / Boilers / Heat / Coolants / Temperature / Design / Nuclear design / Electric power generation / Graphite
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