Rankine and Brayton cycles are common energy conversion cycles and constitute the basis of a significant proportion of global electricity production. Even a seemingly marginal improvement in the efficiency of these cycles can considerably decrease the annual use of primary energy sources and bring a significant gain in power plant output. Recently, supercritical Brayton cycles using CO2 as the working fluid have attracted much attention, chiefly due to their high efficiency. As with conventional cycles, improving the compressor performance in supercritical cycles is major route to increasing the efficiency of the whole process. This paper numerically investigates the flow field and performance of a supercritical CO2 centrifugal compressor. A thermodynamic look-up table is coupled with the flow solver, and the look-up table is systematically refined to take into account the large variation of thermodynamic properties in the vicinity of the critical point. Effects of different boundary and operating conditions are also discussed. It is shown that the compressor performance is highly sensitive to the look-up table resolution as well as the operating and boundary conditions near the critical point. Additionally, a method to overcome the difficulties of simulation close to the critical point is explained.

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