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Thermohydraulic investigation on the use of carbon dioxide as coolant for a solid breeding blanket for DEMO



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"The Helium Cooled Pebble Bed (HCPB) Breeding Blanket (BB) is one of the 4 BB concepts being investigated in the EU for their possible implementation in a demonstration nuclear fusion reactor (DEMO). The choice of He as fuid coolant for the BB is motivated by a virtually complete transparency to neutrons, leaving unafected the T production capabilities of the blanket, as well as chemical inertness, molecular stability under high temperatures and neutron irradiation and a superior heat conductivity and capacity, leading to the best cooling performance in terms of heat transfer capabilities among other gas cooling choices. However, this cooling performance figure is hindered by the very low density of the gas, which leads to large pressure drops and high pumping power, thus afecting the overall plant efficiency, as well as to chronic leakages and large coolant inventories. These disadvantages, together with the still immature technology readiness of the respective turbomachinery, the price of this coolant, as well as its recognized limited resources pose concerns about the use of He as coolant for a BB in DEMO. On the other side, carbon dioxide has been the fuid coolant choice since the 50's in the nuclear fission industry for gas cooled reactors (MAGNOX, AGR). Despite its lower heat capacity and thermal conductivity (about 22% and 17% of that of helium respectively), its larger density (11 times larger molecular weight for CO2) can lead to an advantageous performance on heat dissipation rate per unit of pumping power. This feature, coupled with its relative transparency to neutrons, the molecular stability at the operating temperatures of the BB and the industrial scale ready turbomachinery makes CO2 an attractive alternative to He. The feasibility of a CO2-cooled breeding blanket is assessed in this work from the point of view of the thermohydraulic performance."


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