Thermodynamic exergy analysis for small modular reactor in nuclear hybrid energy system
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 110 8th Street, JEC 5046, Troy, NY 12180, USA
2 Idaho National Laboratory, PO Box 1625, Idaho Falls, ID 8341, USA
⁎ e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 10 February 2016
Published online: 27 April 2016
Small modular reactors (SMRs) provide a unique opportunity for future nuclear development with reduced financial risks, allowing the United States to meet growing energy demands through safe, reliable, clean air electricity generation while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the reliance on unstable fossil fuel prices. A nuclear power plant is comprised of several complex subsystems which utilize materials from other subsystems and their surroundings. The economic utility of resources, or thermoeconomics, is extremely difficult to analyze, particularly when trying to optimize resources and costs among individual subsystems and determine prices for products. Economics and thermodynamics cannot provide this information individually. Thermoeconomics, however, provides a method of coupling the quality of energy available based on exergy and the value of this available energy – “exergetic costs”. For an SMR exergy analysis, both the physical and economic environments must be considered. The physical environment incorporates the energy, raw materials, and reference environment, where the reference environment refers to natural resources available without limit and without cost, such as air input to a boiler. The economic environment includes market influences and prices in addition to installation, operation, and maintenance costs required for production to occur. The exergetic cost or the required exergy for production may be determined by analyzing the physical environment alone. However, to optimize the system economics, this environment must be coupled with the economic environment. A balance exists between enhancing systems to improve efficiency and optimizing costs. Prior research into SMR thermodynamics has not detailed methods on improving exergetic costs for an SMR coupled with storage technologies and renewable energy such as wind or solar in a hybrid energy system. This process requires balancing technological efficiencies and economics to demonstrate financially competitive systems. This paper aims to explore the use of exergy analysis methods to estimate and optimize SMR resources and costs for individual subsystems, based on thermodynamic principles – resource utilization and efficiency. The paper will present background information on exergy theory; identify the core subsystems in an SMR plant coupled with storage systems in support of renewable energy and hydrogen production; perform a thermodynamic exergy analysis; determine the cost allocation among these subsystems; and calculate unit exergetic costs, unit exergoeconomic costs, and first and second law efficiencies. Exergetic and exergoeconomic costs ultimately determine how individual subsystems contribute to overall profitability and how efficiencies and consumption may be optimized to improve profitability, making SMRs more competitive with other generation technologies.
© L. Boldon et al., published by EDP Sciences, 2016
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