The Gas Turbine-Modular Helium Reactor for the Next Fifty Years of Nuclear Power
The Gas Turbine-Modular Helium Reactor (GT-MHR) is the result of coupling the evolution of a low power density passively safe modular reactor with key technology developments in the U.S. during the last decade: large industrial gas turbines; large active magnetic bearings; and compact, highly effective plate-fin heat exchangers. This is accomplished through the unique use of the Brayton cycle to produce electricity with the helium as primary coolant from the reactor directly driving the gas turbine electrical generator. This cycle can achieve a high net efficiency in the range of 45% to 48%.
In the design of the GT-MHR the desirable inherent characteristics of the inert helium coolant, graphite core, and the coated fuel particles are supplemented with specific design features such as passive heat removal to achieve the safety objective of not disturbing the normal day-to-day activities of the public even for beyond design basis rare accidents.
Each GT-MHR plant consists of four modules. The GT-MHR module components are contained within steel pressure vessels: a reactor vessel, a power conversion vessel, and a connecting cross vessel. All vessels are sited underground in a concrete silo, which serves as an independent vented low pressure containment structure.
By capitalizing on industrial and aerospace gas turbine development, highly effective heat exchanger designs, and inherent gas cooled reactor temperature characteristics, the passively safe GT-MHR provides a sound technical, monetary, and environmental basis for new nuclear power generating capacity.
This paper provides an update on the status of the design, which has been under development on the US-DOE program since February 1993. An assessment of plant performance and safety is also included.
KeywordsNegative Temperature Coefficient Rankine Cycle Steel Pressure Vessel Primary Coolant High Thermal Efficiency
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