The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has awarded a grant of $2.3 million to Michigan State University (MSU), East Lansing, Michigan, USA, to develop its expertise in metal Additive Manufacturing for high-efficiency power generation. The project involves the development of a plate-type heat exchanger manufactured using new, high-temperature alloys by Powder Bed Fusion.
Andre Benard, MSU’s Associate professor of Mechanical Engineering, will serve as lead investigator on the project. The goal is to develop a highly scalable, compact and low-cost metallic heat exchanger that is resistant to corrosion and can remain strong at the highest operating temperatures.
“The heat exchangers we’re working on are needed in systems like concentrated solar towers, nuclear power systems and for recapturing energy from industrial gas furnaces,” Benard stated. “There is a demand for compact heat exchangers that can operate at temperatures close to 2,000°F – and the existing ones are large, costly and do not meet the temperature requirement.”
Grid-scale power plants can be much more efficient when using supercritical carbon dioxide – which is a state of matter where liquid and gas phases are indistinguishable – as a working fluid instead of water. “The new and efficient CO2 plants envisioned by many scientists require highly efficient heat exchangers,” Benard explained. “We are pushing the boundaries with these new metallic systems that can operate at high pressure and extreme high temperature. These breakthrough power plants will require less thermal energy to produce electrical energy, be more compact, and will lower costs for customers and electric utility companies.”
The aim of the project is that the new heat exchangers will handle the required power and durability of a power plant’s lifetime. MSU researchers serving as co-investigators are James Klausner, Patrick Kwon, Joerg Petrasch, Alex Diaz, Haseung Chung and Himanshu Sahasrabudhe and Rohini Balachandran. Curtiss Wright, Solar Turbine and UHV are also part of the team.