David Delaney

How to increase the electrical output of a nuclear generating plant by 20% --Louis Michaud's invention

by David Delaney,  September 30, 2004

Nuclear generating plants operate at a thermal efficiency of about 33%.  A plant that generates one gigawatt of electrical power discards waste heat to the environment at a rate of two gigawatts.   If 10% of the waste heat could be turned into electric power,  yielding  0.2 gigawatt of additional electrical power, the total electrical power output of the plant would rise by 20%.

There has always been a very serious obstacle to converting any of  the waste heat into electrical power.  You need a heat engine to do it--an engine that allows a working fluid to expand and cool while doing work. The efficiency of a heat engine depends on the difference between the temperature of the working fluid at the input to the engine and at the output after it has been allowed to expand and work.   The greater this temperature difference, the more work energy you can get out a given input of heat energy into the engine. The problem with the waste heat from a nuclear plant is that, although it's pretty warm in human terms, its about as cool as it can be and still be rejected efficiently to the local environment of the plant.  You cannot get any more work out of it without making it a lot cooler, and there's no efficient source of coolth near the plant to cool the output end of a heat engine enough to get more work (electricity) out of that waste heat.
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