Keywords: co-generation plants, thermal coupling systems, desalination processes, heat exchanger design, heat pipes, heat transfer, nuclear reactors, two-phase flow, nuclear desalination, seawater desalination, potable water
Optimum thermal coupling system for co-generation nuclear desalination plants
Owing to the small number of established nuclear desalination plants worldwide, there is a lack of technical data and not enough practical experience in the field of coupling systems. Therefore, in this study different coupling technologies concerning co-generation systems for linking nuclear power reactors to large thermal seawater desalination units (MED and MSF) are reviewed and optimised. Owing to the attractive and advantageous features of heat pipes, new heat-pipe heat exchangers are proposed for the Intermediate Isolating Loop (IIL), in addition to the previously reviewed types: flash steam chamber and pressurised water loops. All the studied thermal coupling methods are modelled mathematically as heat exchanger loop transfers for the safe transfer of heat energy from nuclear power plant to desalination plant. A methodology for selecting the optimum coupling system is derived, taking into consideration several preference indices, which mainly depend on IIL characteristics: heat transfer surface area, thermal performance and consumed pumping power. As an exploratory case study, these factors are analysed and discussed for the SMART reactor type.