Radial inflow turbines are a relevant architecture for energy extraction from supercritical CO2 power cycles for scales less than 10 MW. To ensure stage and overall cycle efficiency, it is desirable to recover exhaust energy from the turbine stage through the inclusion of a suitable diffuser in the turbine exhaust stream. In supercritical CO2 Brayton cycles, the high turbine inlet pressure can lead to sealing challenges at small scale if the rotor is supported from the rotor rear side in the conventional manner. An alternative is a layout where the rotor exit faces the bearing system. While such a layout is attractive for the sealing system, it limits the axial space claim of the diffuser. Designs of a combined annular-radial diffuser are considered as a means to meet the aforementioned packaging challenges of this rotor layout. Diffuser performance is assessed numerically with the use of Reynolds-averaged Navier--Stokes (RANS) and unsteady Reynolds-averaged Navier--Stokes (URANS) calculations. To appropriately account for cross coupling with the stage, a single blade passage of the entire stage is modeled. Assessment of diffuser inlet conditions, and off-design performance analysis, reveals that the investigated diffuser designs are performance robust to high swirl, high inlet blockage, and highly nonuniform mass flux distribution. Diffuser component performance is dominated by the annular-radial bend. The incorporation of a constant sectional area bend is the key geometric feature in rendering the highly nonuniform turbine exit flow (dominated by tip clearance flows at the shroud) more uniform.

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