Super-critical water nuclear reactor status update

The Gen IV international forum had an updated presentation on super-critical water nuclear reactors in 2017 by Laurence Leung.

* Potential for cost reduction
• Fuel cost is lower, but capital cost is higher, for nuclear than coal-fired power plants
• Increase in steam temperature could simplify the nuclear system
* Advancement in boiler technology
• Leverage development in the fossil-power industry reducing cost and risk
• Net efficiency could reach ~50% at steam temperature of 700°C

SCWR Concept Development Status as of 2017

* Canada, EU and Japan have completed the development of their concepts
• International peers reviewed the concept and assessed viability
• R&D to improve confidence on the developed concepts
* China and Russian Federation are working on completing of their concepts
• China plans to host the review of their concept with international peers
* Preparation of a fuel irradiation test
• Acquire design and licensing experience of in-reactor supercritical water system
• Obtain in-reactor data on fuel, cladding material and thermal-hydraulics at supercritical pressures to improve understanding and for code validation
* Development of small SCWR concepts
• Other than Japan’s Super Fast Reactor, all SCWR concepts have been developed to generate electric powers at or greater than 1000 MW
• Small remote communities require much less power
• Adjustment of SCWR core size to meet local deployment needs (e.g., 10 to 300 MWe)

SCWR Design Challenges: Materials

* In-core (except cladding) and out-of-core components
• No single alloy with sufficient information to confirm its performance
• Based on materials used in current fleet of reactors and fossil – fired power plants
• Different acceptance requirements on corrosion for nuclear power plants
• Need thermal and corrosion -resistant barrier
* Cladding
• Zirconium
-based alloys are not viable material
• Stainless steel or nickel
-based alloys are potential candidates
• Demonstrate performance in key areas: Corrosion and stress corrosion cracking; strength, embrittlement and creep resistance; and dimensional and microstructural stability
• Quantify irradiation effect
* Challenges
• Testing at high pressures and high temperatures
• Irradiation effect

36 thoughts on “Super-critical water nuclear reactor status update”

  1. Neutrons + protons = ☺️ Other Gen 4 can make superheated steam without super duper high pressure tho.

  2. Neutrons + protons = ☺️Other Gen 4 can make superheated steam without super duper high pressure tho.

  3. I clicked the ‘sad’ button because I’m disappointed that the same amount of effort isn’t going into low pressure, high safety molten salt reactors. Several of the molten salt developers are making sure that they are only using already availble nuclear qualified materials. There’s a time for new alloys and bold invention, and there’s a time for putting together what we already have.

  4. I clicked the ‘sad’ button because I’m disappointed that the same amount of effort isn’t going into low pressure high safety molten salt reactors. Several of the molten salt developers are making sure that they are only using already availble nuclear qualified materials. There’s a time for new alloys and bold invention and there’s a time for putting together what we already have.

  5. Here the deal, big nuclear power plants require a lot of cheap heavy duty cooling which requires lots of water. Now, looking back at one of the recent droughts in Europe, France had to curtail nuclear power generation because there wasn’t enough water in their rivers. In China it’s rivers are going to be in bad shape when the Himalayas are too warm to sustain glaciers because they moderate the monsoon rain. I’m not sure are enough good sites remaining for the damns that would be needed in order to work around this problem.

  6. Oh well. Guess the people that matter don’t agree. Must be a big conspiracy because MSRs are the logical choice, eh?

  7. Here the deal big nuclear power plants require a lot of cheap heavy duty cooling which requires lots of water. Now looking back at one of the recent droughts in Europe France had to curtail nuclear power generation because there wasn’t enough water in their rivers. In China it’s rivers are going to be in bad shape when the Himalayas are too warm to sustain glaciers because they moderate the monsoon rain. I’m not sure are enough good sites remaining for the damns that would be needed in order to work around this problem.

  8. Oh well. Guess the people that matter don’t agree. Must be a big conspiracy because MSRs are the logical choice eh?

  9. That’s right. Supercritical water is a dangerous thing. Even regular coal/gas plants can have big explosions if the superheated water boiler ruptures. But any powerpoint reactor loses to a real , albeit imperfect, one

  10. The rivers were not running dry, they were warm due to the hot summer and the French authorities were worried that warm water from thermal (coal, gas, nuclear) power plant cooling could further raise temperatures and harm endangered species of river fish. These problems could be avoided by using sea water for cooling. Or by building cooling towers.

  11. This is a bit of a misleading myth that seems to get posted under Ars Technica nuclear articles. The rivers in France were actually warm and the french authorities were worried that warm water from thermal power stations could raise temperatures further and harm endangered fish. Thermal stations include gas and coal, although France does not have much of those due to an abundance of nuclear. Also this problem can be avoided through the use of cooling towers, or building the plants by the sea and using that for cooling.

  12. That’s right. Supercritical water is a dangerous thing. Even regular coal/gas plants can have big explosions if the superheated water boiler ruptures. But any powerpoint reactor loses to a real albeit imperfect one

  13. The rivers were not running dry they were warm due to the hot summer and the French authorities were worried that warm water from thermal (coal gas nuclear) power plant cooling could further raise temperatures and harm endangered species of river fish.These problems could be avoided by using sea water for cooling. Or by building cooling towers.

  14. This is a bit of a misleading myth that seems to get posted under Ars Technica nuclear articles. The rivers in France were actually warm and the french authorities were worried that warm water from thermal power stations could raise temperatures further and harm endangered fish. Thermal stations include gas and coal although France does not have much of those due to an abundance of nuclear.Also this problem can be avoided through the use of cooling towers or building the plants by the sea and using that for cooling.

  15. Supercritical reactors run at a higher temperature than current light water reactors, so they are more efficient – the same amount of electricity with less waste heat. That said, some of the salt-, metal- or gas-cooled designs run hotter yet, and mostly at lower pressure.

  16. Supercritical reactors run at a higher temperature than current light water reactors so they are more efficient – the same amount of electricity with less waste heat. That said some of the salt- metal- or gas-cooled designs run hotter yet and mostly at lower pressure.

  17. Note, if you have a significant coolant related problem (like a leak or pump failure) with the nuclear version you have to vent the supercritical water into a containment vessel and that by itself is problematic

  18. Note, a LOCA would be pretty spectacular with a big supercritical water reactor. A LOCA can tear a reactor’s containment vessel apart merely from the mechanical stresses of venting the coolant into the vessel. Note, I don’t even see the coolant containment vessel in the diagrams above so maybe in China they just vent into the air. 😉

  19. Note if you have a significant coolant related problem (like a leak or pump failure) with the nuclear version you have to vent the supercritical water into a containment vessel and that by itself is problematic

  20. Note a LOCA would be pretty spectacular with a big supercritical water reactor. A LOCA can tear a reactor’s containment vessel apart merely from the mechanical stresses of venting the coolant into the vessel. Note I don’t even see the coolant containment vessel in the diagrams above so maybe in China they just vent into the air. 😉

  21. Note, if you have a significant coolant related problem (like a leak or pump failure) with the nuclear version you have to vent the supercritical water into a containment vessel and that by itself is problematic

  22. Note, a LOCA would be pretty spectacular with a big supercritical water reactor. A LOCA can tear a reactor’s containment vessel apart merely from the mechanical stresses of venting the coolant into the vessel. Note, I don’t even see the coolant containment vessel in the diagrams above so maybe in China they just vent into the air. 😉

  23. Supercritical reactors run at a higher temperature than current light water reactors, so they are more efficient – the same amount of electricity with less waste heat. That said, some of the salt-, metal- or gas-cooled designs run hotter yet, and mostly at lower pressure.

  24. That’s right. Supercritical water is a dangerous thing. Even regular coal/gas plants can have big explosions if the superheated water boiler ruptures. But any powerpoint reactor loses to a real , albeit imperfect, one

  25. The rivers were not running dry, they were warm due to the hot summer and the French authorities were worried that warm water from thermal (coal, gas, nuclear) power plant cooling could further raise temperatures and harm endangered species of river fish.

    These problems could be avoided by using sea water for cooling. Or by building cooling towers.

  26. This is a bit of a misleading myth that seems to get posted under Ars Technica nuclear articles. The rivers in France were actually warm and the french authorities were worried that warm water from thermal power stations could raise temperatures further and harm endangered fish. Thermal stations include gas and coal, although France does not have much of those due to an abundance of nuclear.

    Also this problem can be avoided through the use of cooling towers, or building the plants by the sea and using that for cooling.

  27. Here the deal, big nuclear power plants require a lot of cheap heavy duty cooling which requires lots of water. Now, looking back at one of the recent droughts in Europe, France had to curtail nuclear power generation because there wasn’t enough water in their rivers. In China it’s rivers are going to be in bad shape when the Himalayas are too warm to sustain glaciers because they moderate the monsoon rain. I’m not sure are enough good sites remaining for the damns that would be needed in order to work around this problem.

  28. I clicked the ‘sad’ button because I’m disappointed that the same amount of effort isn’t going into low pressure, high safety molten salt reactors. Several of the molten salt developers are making sure that they are only using already availble nuclear qualified materials. There’s a time for new alloys and bold invention, and there’s a time for putting together what we already have.

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