Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) has been awarded a program from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to design and build a conformal heat exchanger for installation in spaces of opportunity within a small modular reactor. The heat exchanger will demonstrate specific power and power density substantially better than the state-of-the-art.
For heat engine power plants used to generating electricity, heat transfer and heat rejection are one of the primary capital expenditures as well as some of the largest, heaviest, and least volumetrically versatile components of the entire plant. It is necessary to reconsider heat exchanger requirements for the Small Modular Reactor and other weight and volume limited applications. The heat exchanger must fit into confined space and have fewer, smaller components and must have reduced Operations and Maintenance costs.
In the past, the cost and complexity of heat exchangers has been inversely proportional due to the difficulties inherent in manufacturing finely-detailed welded or brazed structures. To address this problem, PSI is using additive manufacturing to produce a heat exchanger that uses a fractal branching design without any increase in cost compared to a traditional design with equal performance. The branching design provides extremely large surface area per volume, maximizing the heat transfer area that can be included in a confined space.
Applications for the additively-manufactured heat exchanger technology include regenerative heat exchangers, condensers, component cooling, and letdown heat exchangers. The design is not a one-size-fits-all scheme, but instead the general design architecture is readily tailored to purpose. This modularity is due to the parametric design, which allows capacity rate matching between streams, geometric flexibility, and different flow mediums (for example steam, liquid metal, CO2, or molten salt and water). This unique design optimization combined with responsive manufacturing means that the heat exchanger technology could be a replacement for many of the different types of heat exchangers found in power plants and many vehicles to reduce cost and volume allocations.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Sean Torrez
Area Manager, Deployable Technologies
Physical Sciences Inc.
Telephone: (978) 689-0003