South Korea announces supercritical CO2 collaboration

26 September 2022

Five Korean organisations have signed agreements on commercialisation of supercritical CO2 power generation technology through which they intend to establish and demonstrate a test facility and infrastructure, and to develop the technology for a supercritical CO2 power generation system for small modular reactor (SMR)-based power generation.

From left: Gyeongju Mayor Nak-young Joo, Gyeongsangbuk-do Economy Deputy Governor Lee Dal-hee, Hyundai Engineering CEO Hong Hyun-seong, Hanwha Power Systems CEO Son Young-chang, and KAERI Director Park Won-seok mark the signature of the agreements (Image: KAERI)

Memoranda of Understanding were signed by Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), Hanwha Power Systems Co, Ltd, Hyundai Engineering Co, Ltd, Gyeongsangbuk-do province and Gyeongju City. Applying supercritical CO2 power generation technology to SMRs will "open a new horizon" in nuclear technology and provide a stepping stone to enter the SMR market, Park Won-seok, president KAERI, said.

Hyundai CEO Hong Hyun-seong said the cooperation is expected to lead the supercritical CO2 power generation market in connection with the company's Micro Modular Reactor (MMR) business. "If the supercritical CO2 power generation system is applied to MMR, the economic feasibility of the MMR project is expected to improve," he added.

The province of Gyeongbuk will be home to the Munmu Daewang Science Research Institute - South Korea's national SMR research institute - which is currently under construction. The province's Deputy Governor of Economy Lee Dal-hee said Gyeongbuk would "spare no effort in supporting the establishment of infrastructure to attract related companies and establish the nuclear power plant industry ecosystem".

Supercritical carbon dioxide can get much hotter than steam - up to 700°C. It can potentially be used in a Brayton cycle which has the potential to be much more efficient at turning heat from power plants into energy than the traditional steam-based Rankine cycle used in today's thermal power plants.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News