The primary objective of this work is to determine the Kalina cycle's suitability for thermal power conversion from a pressurized water reactor. Several previous papers have examined this application, but these either lack proof of concept or make unfeasible assumptions. This work expands current knowledge by simulating the Kalina cycle and comparing it to current pressurized water reactor Rankine cycles in order to identify which is more efficient. Prerequisite to the modeling is a simulation tool capable of modeling the thermodynamics of ammonia/water mixtures. Instead of using an existing program, a new one called Clearwater is used. This tool is based on a preexisting Gibbs free energy "super" equation of state. Algorithms for vapor-liquid equilibrium calculations and phase identification are presented. Clearwater will be distributed online as open-source code to aid future developers of ammonia/water power and refrigeration cycles. A comparison of single-stage Kalina and Rankine cycles driven by heat from PWR core coolant suggests that the Kalina cycle is not well suited to the application. Any benefit from the Kalina cycle's ability to match temperature profiles in the boiling region of the steam generator is outweighed by other drawbacks. These include the cycle's 1) increased turbine exhaust pressure and 2) lower average heat absorption temperature caused by its working fluid's relatively high liquid heat capacity, both of which lower efficiency. Having concluded this, an attempt is made to quantify the conditions under which the Kalina cycle produces more power than the Rankine cycle. Both cycles are optimized for a range of heat source inlet and outlet temperatures between 350 ℃ and 525 ℃. When both cycles absorb the same amount of heat from the source"”i.e., when source outlet temperature is constrained"” the Kalina cycle is less effective for small source temperature drops. When outlet temperature is unconstrained, the Kalina cycle outperforms the Rankine cycle for all but the lowest inlet temperature. This is due to the Kalina cycle's non-isothermal boiling profile, which allows it to absorb low temperature heat at relatively high pressure. Because of its isothermal boiling profile, the Rankine cycle cannot capture low temperature heat as effectively, so it performs worse over large, unconstrained source temperature drops.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Chemical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





Kalina, Rankine, exergy, efficiency, nuclear