The goal of next generation reactors is to increase energy efficiency in the production of electricity and provide high-temperature heat for industrial processes. The efficient transfer of energy for industrial applications depends on the ability to incorporate effective heat exchangers between the nuclear heat transport system and the industrial process. The need for efficiency, compactness, and safety challenge the boundaries of existing heat exchanger technology. Various studies have been performed in attempts to update the secondary heat exchanger that is downstream of the primary heat exchanger, mostly because its performance is strongly tied to the ability to employ more efficient industrial processes. Modern compact heat exchangers can provide high compactness, a measure of the ratio of surface area-to-volume of a heat exchange. The microchannel heat exchanger studied here is a plate-type, robust heat exchanger that combines compactness, low pressure drop, high effectiveness, and the ability to operate with a very large pressure differential between hot and cold sides. The plates are etched and thereafter joined by diffusion welding, resulting in extremely strong all-metal heat exchanger cores. After bonding, any number of core blocks can be welded together to provide the required flow capacity. This study explores the microchannel heat exchanger and draws conclusions about diffusion welding/bonding for joining heat exchanger plates, with both experimental and computational modeling, along with existing challenges and gaps. Also, presented is a thermal design method for determining overall design specifications for a microchannel printed circuit heat exchanger for both supercritical (24 MPa) and subcritical (17 MPa) Rankine power cycles.

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