This paper focuses on an experimental investigation of a helium compressor, a major component of the Power Conversion Unit (PCU), used in a High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor (HTGR). The PCU system uses a direct Helium Brayton cycle for the power conversion. In this configuration, there is a strong coupling between the helium compressor and the other components of the PCU system. The estimations of compressor performance in stable and transient operational states are of high importance for the designer. Because of the difficulties in testing a compressor with helium as a working fluid, simulations methods using air to replace helium as a compressor working fluid in the experiments are researched. An experimental compressor system is built to investigate the performance of a helium compressor. Under different operating conditions, the compressor performance characteristics are obtained and compared with that of an air compressor. The possibility and the effective approach of designing a helium compressor based on the experimental data of an air compressor are studied. The experimental results showed that air under the correct flow conditions, identified using similitude analysis, can be used to test a helium compressor instead of far more expensive helium.

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