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An additively-manufactured molten salt-to-supercritical carbon di-oxide primary heat exchanger for solar thermal power generation – Design and techno-economic performance


The design and techno-economic performance of a compact additively manufactured (AM) molten salt (MS)-to-supercritical carbon di-oxide (sCO2) primary heat exchanger (PHE) for solar thermal application is described. The PHE design consists of sCO2 flow through an array of microscale pin fins while the MS flows through mm-scale rectangular channels. Constraints imposed by AM using laser powder bed fusion method are considered in the design. Structural and fluid flow simulations are performed to arrive at a viable design of the core and headers. A simplified one-dimensional steady state model for the PHE is developed including the impact of surface roughness from the AM process. A process-based cost model is used to determine the tradeoff between thermofluidic design and manufacturing cost. A parametric study is performed using the thermo-fluidic and cost models to determine the set of geometrical and flow variables that result in high power density and low cost, while restricting the pressure drop on the sCO2 side to less than 2% of line pressure. Flow rates of MS and sCO2 were varied over heat capacity rate ratios ranging from 0.2 to 1. Results indicate that it is possible to design a low-pressure drop AM PHE with an effectiveness of 90% and a power density in excess of 10 MW/m3 (including headers). Fabrication of representative nickel superalloy specimens are shown to demonstrate that low-porosity parts with the requisite dimensional tolerance of PHE core can be generated.

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