Nuclear power becomes more and more important in many countries worldwide as a basis for current and future electrical-energy generation. The largest group of operating Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) equipped with water-cooled reactors (96% of all NPPs) have gross thermal efficiencies ranging from 30% and up to 36%. Such relatively low values of thermal efficiencies are due to lower pressures/temperatures at the inlet to a turbine (4.5–7.8 MPa / 257–293°C). However, modern combined-cycle power plants (Brayton gas-turbine cycle and subcritical-pressure steam Rankine cycle, fuel – natural gas) and supercritical-pressure coal-fired power plants have reached gross thermal efficiencies of 62% and 55%, respectively. Therefore, next generation or Generation IV NPPs with water-cooled reactors should have thermal efficiencies as close as possible to those of modern thermal power plants.
A significant increase in thermal efficiencies of water-cooled NPPs can be possible only due to increasing turbine inlet parameters above the critical point of water, i.e., SuperCritical Water-cooled Reactors (SCWRs) have to be designed. This path of the thermal-efficiency increasing is considered as a conventional way through which coal-fired power plants gone more than 50 years ago.
Therefore, an objective of the current paper is a study on neutronics and thermalhydraulics characteristics of a generic 1200-MWel Pressure-Channel (PCh) SCWR.
Standard neutronics codes DRAGON and DONJON have been coupled with a new thermalhydraulic code developed based on the latest empirical heat-transfer correlation, which allowed for more accurate estimation of basic characteristics of a PCh SCWR. In addition, the CFD Fluent code has been used for better understanding of specifics of heat transfer in supercritical water.
Future studies will be dedicated to materials and fuels testing in an in-pile supercritical-water loop and developing passive-safety systems.