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Kehan Zhou, Jiangfeng Wang, Jiaxi Xia, Yumin Guo, Pan Zhao, Yiping Dai

PII: S1359-4311(19)32632-8

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2019.114757

Reference: ATE 114757

Revised Date: 26 November 2019

Accepted Date: 1 December 2019

Please cite this article as: K. Zhou, J. Wang, J. Xia, Y. Guo, P. Zhao, Y. Dai, Design and Performance Analysis

of a Supercritical CO2 Radial Inflow Turbine, Applied Thermal Engineering (2019), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/

j.applthermaleng.2019.114757

This is a PDF file of an article that has undergone enhancements after acceptance, such as the addition of a cover

page and metadata, and formatting for readability, but it is not yet the definitive version of record. This version

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may be discovered which could affect the content, and all legal disclaimers that apply to the journal pertain.

Design and Performance Analysis of a Supercritical CO2 Radial

Inflow Turbine

Kehan Zhou, Jiangfeng Wang*, Jiaxi Xia, Yumin Guo, Pan Zhao, Yiping Dai

School of Energy and Power Engineering, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an 710049, People’s

Republic of China

Abstract

Due to the high efficiency and compactness, the supercritical carbon dioxide (S-

CO2) Brayton cycle recently emerged as a promising power cycle for the power plant

economics. The turbine is the key power unit of the cycle, but relevant investigations

are still lacking. In this paper, the design study of an S-CO2 radial inflow turbine

based on system optimization is conducted. The CFD simulation of the turbine under

design and off-design conditions is performed, and tip clearance analysis is conducted

to evaluate the turbine performance. The properties of CO2 in the CFD analysis are

calculated using the NIST database. Results show that the power output and total-to-

static efficiency of the turbine are 1.16 MW and 85.36%, respectively. The largest

deviation of design results and simulation results under the nominal condition is

3.73%, indicating that the design model is reliable. Numerical simulations reveal that

the turbine maintains great performance at design and off-design conditions.

Furthermore, tip clearance analysis shows that a 6% increase of tip clearance results

in a 3.84% reduction of turbine efficiency and a 4.16% reduction of turbine power

output.

Keywords: Supercritical CO2 Brayton cycle; Radial inflow turbine; One-dimensional design;

CFD analysis

E-mail address: jfwang@xjtu.edu.cn

1

Nomenclature

K angular momentum, kgms-1, loss 1-6 state points of the S-CO2 cycle,

coefficient state points in the S-CO2 turbine

r radius, mm h hub

tn span, mm n nozzle

2

u peripheral velocity, ms-1 out output

W power, kW p passage

ρ density, kgm-3

1. Introduction

Environmental pollution, energy shortage and climate change caused by exploding

energy consumption have been threatening human society. The efficient utilization of

energy is the most urgent solution to alleviate these problems [1]. Among the efficient

energy conversion systems, supercritical carbon dioxide Brayton cycle (known as S-

CO2 Brayton cycle) is considered as a promising option due to the high efficiency, the

compact structure and the simple layout [2]. Compared with the traditional helium

turbine, the S-CO2 turbine has a much smaller size and is able to produce comparable

power under lower temperature [3]. Many studies have investigated the application of

the S-CO2 Brayton cycle on nuclear energy [4], solar energy [5], fossil fuels [6], waste

heat recovery [7] and fuel cells [8].

Sulzer [9] proposed the simple S-CO2 Brayton cycle in 1950. To recover the turbine

exhaust heat, Feher [10] developed a regeneration S-CO2 Brayton cycle. Kato et al.

3

[11] investigated the S-CO2 partial condensation cycle for reducing the compression

work. Dostal et al. [3] completed the recompression S-CO2 Brayton cycle, which was

generally considered the most efficient layout of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle since then,

to solve the pinch point issue. Until now, many researchers have proposed and

compared different layouts of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle. In the work of Padilla et al.

[12], four different structures of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle in the concentrated solar

power application were investigated from the perspective of energy and exergy. They

concluded that the adding of intercooling to the recompression cycle is beneficial for

cycle performance improvement. Guo et al. [13] examined several S-CO2

recompression Brayton cycles and the dual expansion cycles to reduce the cycle

operating pressure and to improve thermal efficiency for nuclear power plants. They

demonstrated that the efficiency of the recompression cycle is the highest and the

recompression cycle with dual expansion could reduce the reactor pressure with little

expense of cycle efficiency. Bae et al. [8] conducted the study of the S-CO2 Brayton

cycle with different structures for a Fuel Cell application and announced that the S-

CO2 Brayton cycle had better performance than the air Brayton cycle when using as

the bottoming cycle of MCFC.

In addition, several studies have been conducted on S-CO2 Brayton cycles

combined with other cycles for the performance improvement. Besarati et al [5]

considered the combination of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle and the organic Rankine

cycle. They found that the simple S-CO2 Brayton cycle achieved the largest efficiency

increase while the recompression S-CO2/ORC cycle maintained the highest efficiency.

Cao et al. [7] proposed a cascade CO2 cycle to recover the waste heat of gas turbines.

The authors concluded that the proposed combined cycle had better thermal efficiency

than the conventional combined cycles. In the study of Yari et al [4], a transcritical S-

CO2 cycle was used to recover the waste heat of the S-CO2 cycle. Results showed that

the efficiency of the combined cycle was 5.5-26% higher than that of the simple S-

CO2 cycle, and the exergy destruction was 6.7–28.8% lower. Wang et al. [14]

examined two combined cycles in which a transcritical CO2 cycle and an ORC were

4

used for utilizing waste heat of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle, respectively. Key parameters

were studied for the performance comparison of two combined cycles.

The turbine is the key component of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle. Its performance

affects the cycle performance significantly. The advantages of the radial inflow

turbine are the more compact structure, the lower operation cost and the higher

reliability [15] compared with the axial turbine. Therefore, the radial inflow turbine is

widely used in the preliminary test loops of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle. Clementoni et

al. [16] constructed a 100-kWe S-CO2 Brayton cycle integrated system. Two radial

inflow turbines that drove the compressor and the generator respectively were

designed. And the startup operation of the cycle was tested. Utamura et al. [17] built a

test facility for an S-CO2 regenerative Brayton cycle. The designed rotation speed and

power output of the turbine were 100000 rpm and 10 kW, respectively, while a 110 W

power output at 69000 rpm was achieved due to the windage loss of the rotor. Most

experimental studies focused on the establishment and operation of S-CO2 Brayton

cycles, but little attention was paid to the specific component.

Currently, only a few studies have been conducted on the S-CO2 radial inflow

turbine. Cho et al. [18] developed a design code that could provide turbine geometry

parameters and performance curves of S-CO2 radial inflow turbines for the Sodium-

cooled Fast Reactor (SFR) application. Qi et al. [19] studied the possible design range

of S-CO2 radial inflow turbines with various design parameters. A conclusion has

arrived that within the power range of 100-200 kW, the turbine efficiency could

achieve 78–82%. Persky et al. [20] proposed a robust optimization method for a 30

MWe S-CO2 radial inflow turbine that generated power from solar resources. The

optimization and off-design performance of the turbine were studied.

Experimental research is costly, time-consuming, and may have security issues

while the CFD simulation provides a better understanding of the flow field improves

the design process and saves time and cost greatly [21]. A few researchers have

conducted the CFD simulation of the S-CO2 turbines. Zhang et al. [22] performed the

design and the CFD investigation of an S-CO2 radial inflow turbine. The turbine

5

efficiency was found to be 80.02% and strength evaluation was conducted. Recently,

Lv et al. [23] performed the one-dimensional design and the SQP optimization of an

S-CO2 radial inflow turbine. Optimized loss correlations were given and the CFD

simulation was conducted. Holaind et al. [24] studied the design of a radial inflow

turbine for a small-scale S-CO2 system. A simple CFD analysis was carried out. The

designed turbine met the efficiency requirement. Odabaee et al. [15] explored the

CFD simulations of S-CO2 radial inflow turbines using real gas equations and real gas

property (RGP) tables respectively. They found that the calculation using the RGP file

showed a better agreement with NIST database.

For most of the studies mentioned above, the thermodynamic design of the S-CO2

turbine is not combined with the S-CO2 cycle, which means that the input design

parameters of the turbine cannot ensure the optimal cycle performance. Besides that,

the S-CO2 turbine has much smaller dimensions due to the high density of

supercritical CO2 compared to the traditional steam or gas turbine. However, the

extremely small blade height in the S-CO2 turbine results in a much larger clearance

loss. Thus, it is of great importance to investigate the influence of tip clearance on the

S-CO2 turbine performance under small size conditions, which is seldom studied in

the previous research. Moreover, a Real Gas Property (RGP) file linking with NIST

database [25] is needed for an accurate description of the CO2 thermophysical

properties [26].

In this study, we conduct the thermodynamic optimization of an S-CO2 Brayton

cycle under the given heat source condition. The design and the CFD simulation of an

S-CO2 radial inflow turbine are carried out with the optimized thermodynamic input

parameters. The design accuracy is validated by the comparison between

thermodynamic design results and simulation results. Numerical simulation results

including velocity streamlines, temperature and pressure contours, Mach number

contours, limiting streamlines and blade loading profiles are studied to explore the

specific features of the small size turbine with high working fluid density. An RGP

file combining the NIST REFPROP database is encoded and employed in the

6

numerical analysis to cope with the dramatic variation of CO2 thermophysical

properties. Besides, performance analyses of the turbine under off-design conditions

are performed through the CFD method. Furthermore, we evaluate the variation of

turbine performance and flow field distribution as tip clearance increases by the CFD

simulation. Section streamlines and three-dimensional streamlines are analyzed

mutually to study the loss characteristics of small size turbines.

In this paper, the radial inflow turbine is designed for a simple regenerative S-CO2

Brayton cycle that utilizes exhaust heat of the gas turbine. Fig. 1 illustrates the

sketching of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle and the corresponding T-s diagram. Parameters

of each state point are based on the cycle optimization results. The supercritical CO2 is

cooled by the pre-cooler and flows to the compressor to be pressurized. Then the

compressed CO2 absorbs heat from the exhaust gas in the recuperator before passing

through the vapor generator and being heated by the heat source. Next, the CO2 exits

the vapor generator expanding through the S-CO2 turbine to generate power. The

exhaust CO2 then flows to the recuperator and transfers heat to the CO2 from the

compressor. Afterward, the exhaust gas is cooled by the pre-cooler and the cycle is

completed.

To optimize the S-CO2 Brayton cycle and obtain the initial design parameters of the

S-CO2 turbine, the mathematical model of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle is established.

The simulation of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle is conducted on the MATLAB platform.

The NIST database is used to calculate the CO2 thermophysical properties. For the

simplification of the system simulation, several assumptions are made as listed below:

(1) The operation of the system under steady state is maintained. The potential

energy, kinetic energy and the friction loss in the system are ignored.

(2) The system is adiabatic.

(3) The CO2 passing through the heat exchangers and pipes is isobaric.

(4) Isentropic efficiencies of the turbomachines are fixed.

7

The thermodynamic model of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle is developed based on

energy and exergy balances. The heat provided by flue gas in the vapor generator can

be given by

Tgb T6 T (1)

h2 -h3 h6 -h5

rec = (4)

h2 -h( p3 , T5 ) h2 -h( p3 , T5 )

In the pre-cooler, the heat rejected to the cooling medium can be obtained by

h5s -h4

c (6)

h5 -h4

h1 -h2

t (7)

h1 -h2 s

The output power of the turbine and the compressor power consumption can be

obtained by

The net power output and net specific work of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle can be

calculated by

Wnet Wt Wc (10)

Wnet

Wspc (11)

msco2

8

Wnet

th (12)

Qin

Ref. [28] presented the comparison of S-CO2 performances with different layouts

and different maximum pressures. A simple recuperative S-CO2 cycle was

investigated, and detailed operating parameters were provided. The validation of the

thermodynamic model of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle is performed based on the same

thermodynamic parameters, as shown in Table 1. The errors between results

calculated by the model presented in this paper and that of the references are within

2%, which may be caused by different ways of CO2 properties calculation.

To calculate the best operating parameters of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle and the S-

CO2 radial inflow turbine, the genetic algorithm (known as GA) is selected for the

thermodynamic optimization of the cycle. GA is an efficient optimization method

simulating the law of biological evolution, in which the probabilistic approach is used

to define the optimal searching range and realize global optimal solutions searching

[29]. The optimization objective of GA is the cycle net power output. The inlet

temperature of the compressor and turbine, the inlet pressure and the expansion ratio

of the turbine are selected as optimization variables. The calculation conditions of the

S-CO2 Brayton cycle are given in Table 2 [30, 31]. The range of S-CO2 Brayton cycle

optimization parameters and calculation conditions of GA are presented in Table 3

[32, 33] and Table 4 [29, 34], respectively.

Fig. 2 shows the convergence history of the thermodynamic optimization of the S-

CO2 Brayton cycle. The best Wnet is almost constant after the 15th generation and the

mean Wnet changes slightly after the 50th generation. The iteration converges at

generation 66, which is within the maximum iteration number. After the optimization,

the maximum output power under the given heat source condition is obtained. The

inner pinch of the recuperator under the optimized condition has been checked and the

temperature of the pinch point is 9.1 K. Table 5 gives the optimized key parameters of

the S-CO2 Brayton cycle. Then the initial design parameters of the S-CO2 turbine can

be determined.

9

3. Preliminary design of the S-CO2 radial inflow turbine

The main components of the radial inflow turbine are the volute, the nozzle and the

rotor. Fig. 3 presents the typical structure of a radial inflow turbine. During the typical

working process, the CO2 is first guided by the volute to flow uniformly

along the circumferential direction (1-2). Next, the CO2 passes through the nozzle (2-

3) with part of the internal energy transformed into kinetic energy, and then the CO2

leaving the nozzle mixes in the clearance before entering the rotor (3-4). After that the

CO2 continues to expand in the rotor (4-5), driving the rotor to generate power. The

corresponding h-s diagram is shown in Fig. 4. The relationship between the

absolute velocity, the relative velocity, and the peripheral velocity are given in

velocity triangles, as shown in Fig. 5.

The preliminary design of the single-stage S-CO2 radial inflow turbine is based on

the one-dimensional assumption and experience equations are used to estimate the

turbine loss. The optimized thermodynamic parameters are used as input parameters

of the turbine design, as Table 6 shows. The rotation speed of the turbine is selected

according to the typical range for radial inflow turbines provided in references [35,

36]. To ensure the structural strength of the turbine and to reduce the manufacturing

difficulty, a lower value of 40000 rpm is chosen for the turbine rotation speed. Fig. 6

depicts the flow chart of the one-dimensional design.

Before starting the iteration, the peripheral efficiency of the S-CO2 turbine should

be estimated at first [37],

cos 1 2 2 x cos 1 2 x 2

u 2 xa 5 a 4 a

(13)

+ cos 1 2 x

4 a

where xa is the velocity ratio, Ω refers to the degree of reaction, μ is the diameter ratio,

α4 is the absolute flow angle of rotor inlet, β5 is the outlet relative flow angle of rotor,

ψ and φ are the velocity coefficient of the nozzle and the rotor, respectively. The

iteration process is carried out within the given range of the seven key design

parameters [37], as presented in Table 7. The process would be terminated when the

10

error between the calculated efficiency and the estimated efficiency is less than 1e-4.

Moreover, reasonable constraints (-10~5º) are set for the incidence angle to ensure

better performance and the flow condition of the turbine.

The calculations of thermodynamic parameters and velocity triangles are based on

Eq. (14)-(21). The degree of reaction Ω is defined as

hs,45

(15)

hs,25

The isentropic expansion velocity and the actual specific enthalpy at rotor inlet can

be obtained by

cs = 2hs,2-5 (16)

The volute with circular section is adopted in this study. Fig. 7 (a) shows the overall

profile of the volute. Fig. 7 (b) is the schematic of a section of the volute, as shown by

the arrow. The outer edge radius of the section can be expressed as

R R0 2( 2 R0 ) (22)

G G

4 2 0 K

G (23)

m

The geometry parameters of the nozzle and the rotor are calculated using equation

(24)-(38). First, the number of rotor blades is estimated using Glassman empirical

correlation [38].

11

Zr (20 4 ) tan 1 4 (24)

30

The radius and the blade thickness at rotor inlet and outlet can be obtained by

60

r4 u4 (25)

2 N

r5 r4 (26)

t4 0.03r4 (27)

t5 0.02r4 (28)

The blade heights at the inlet and outlet of the rotor can be expressed as

A4

b4 (29)

2 r4 Z r t4

A5

b5 (30)

2 r5 Z r t5

parameters of the rotor. In the one-dimensional design, the nozzle height is a constant.

The equal blade heights are assumed for the nozzle outlet and the rotor inlet.

b3 b4 (34)

The chord length and the relative span of nozzle can be obtained by

tn

tn (35)

l

d4

l (36)

Z n tn

The nozzle inlet radius and the nozzle outlet radius can be given by

12

r2 r42 (al )2 2alr4 sin n (37)

To estimate the turbine efficiency, seven losses are considered in the one-

dimensional model. The loss correlations are listed in Table 8 [39-43].

ha,25 ha,25

tur (41)

hs,25 ha,25 htur

The preliminary design of the turbine is performed following the above equations.

The design results including performance parameters, the flow angle and turbine

geometry parameters are presented in Table 9.

4. Numerical simulation

With the geometry parameters obtained in the preliminary design, the three-

dimensional geometry of the S-CO2 radial inflow turbine can be determined. The

three-dimensional modeling of the nozzle and the rotor are completed using ANSYS-

Bladegen. TC-2P is employed as the blade profile of the nozzle to achieve good

performance [37]. Then the model built with ANSYS-Bladegen can be imported into

ANSYS TurboGrid for mesh generation using the Automatic Topology and Meshing

(ATM) optimized topology. For the volute, the three-dimensional modeling is

conducted with PTC Creo software, and the gridding is finished with ANSYS ICEM.

Besides, mesh refinement is employed at the volute outlet and the adjacent section to

ensure the computing accuracy. The three-dimensional model of the turbine stage is

shown in Fig. 8.

The numerical simulation is performed using ANSYS-CFX software. To describe

the CO2 thermophysical properties more accurately, an RGP file is encoded with

REFPROP 9.1 and employed in the simulation. In CFX-Pre, k-ε turbulence model and

13

no-slip boundary condition are adopted. The two sides of the blade are defined as

periodic boundaries and the intersection between the nozzle and the rotor is set to be

the frozen rotor. In addition, a high resolution difference scheme and an auto

timescale are employed for the calculation. The convergent limit of the residual is set

as 10-4.

Table 10 and Table 11 provide the grid-independent analysis that comprises several

groups of candidate grid numbers and simulation results. For the nozzle and the rotor,

the differences between the calculation results of the last four groups are very small.

For the volute, the difference becomes very little after group 3. Therefore, for the

comprehensive consideration of improving calculation accuracy and saving

computing resources, the grid number of the volute, the nozzle, and the rotor take

2816584, 497016 and 486603, respectively. The final mesh qualities of the three

components are shown in Table 12. The results of mesh generation for the three

components are shown in Fig. 9.

Since detailed experimental data of the S-CO2 turbine is still lacking, the model is

validated with the existing experimental results [44]. As the nozzle blade profile and

the volute geometry are not provided in the reference, different nozzle blade profiles

are adopted in the simulation and the volute is not simulated. The other geometry

parameters are kept the same as those in the reference. The thermodynamic

parameters are based on the data of three test points. As can be seen in Table 13, the

maximum error of the turbine outlet temperature, total pressure, and enthalpy drop are

1.15%, 3.53%, and -5.69%, respectively. The errors might be caused by different

nozzle blade profiles and the absence of the volute. Different nozzle blade profiles

may lead to different turbine performances. Besides, due to the heat loss and the

friction in the volute, the temperature and pressure at the nozzle inlet are lower than

those of the volute inlet are. According to Table 17, the volute can cause about 2% of

pressure and efficiency loss. Considering these, the design method can be considered

reliable.

With the specified grid numbers of the component obtained, the three-dimensional

14

simulation of the designed turbine can be conducted. In this paper, four simulations of

the turbine are performed, namely the turbine with and without volute, the turbine

with different tip clearances, and the turbine under off-design conditions. In the one-

dimensional design, the loss of volute is not considered since a well-designed volute

will not cause great loss. Besides, the simulation of the turbine with volute requires

huge computational resources. To verify the design of the nozzle and rotor and save

computing time, the turbine without volute is firstly simulated and compared with the

one-dimensional design results. After the satisfied results are obtained, the volute is

added to the turbine to achieve a more realistic simulation. Then the tip clearance

analysis is conducted and off-design performances of the turbine are investigated.

5.1. Simulation results of the turbine without volute

The calculation conditions of the simulation are presented in Table 14 and the

details of turbine geometry are given in Table 15. The total temperature at the nozzle

inlet, CO2 mass flow rate and the average pressure at the rotor outlet are 673.15 K,

12.74 kgˑs-1 and 7.63 MPa, respectively according to the preliminary design results.

The rotation speed of the rotor is set as 40000 rpm. The comparison between one-

dimensional design value and numerical simulation results without volute is

conducted, as shown in Table 16. It can be concluded that good agreement is achieved

since the errors of different parameters are within 4%, which indicates that the

designed turbine is effective and meets the accuracy requirements.

The streamlines in the nozzle and rotor are shown in Fig. 10. Following the

designed process, the CO2 first accelerates in the nozzle and reaches maximum

velocity at the nozzle throat, and then the CO2 continues to expand in the rotor. It can

be observed that the streamlines are well distributed align the rotor blade geometry,

showing that the design of the turbine geometry and the operation parameters are

matched. Therefore, steady operation at a nominal state can be achieved. In the CFD

simulation without volute, the flow condition in each flow passage is the same.

15

Fig. 11 presents the velocity vectors at varying spans of the turbine. Since the

structure of the nozzle flow passage is simple, the velocity vectors distribute smoothly

in accordance with the profile of the nozzle blade from the hub surface to the shroud

surface. From the blade leading edge, the velocity of CO2 increases gradually and

obvious flow acceleration can be observed near the nozzle trailing edge. For the rotor,

the flow condition is rather complex, especially in the middle of the blade suction

side, where flow separation occurred due to the obstruction of the blade and the

adverse pressure gradient. Meanwhile, for three different spans, the flow on the

pressure side is smooth. As the span increases, the low-pressure area near the suction

side decreases and the overall flow condition in the rotor passage is improved.

As Fig. 12 shows, the static pressure contours of the turbine are similar at different

spans. Along the flow passage of the turbine, the static pressure gradually decreases

from 18.46 MPa to 6.61 MPa. For the nozzle, pressure drops smoothly in the first half

of the flow passage, and a fluctuation occurs on the suction surface near the nozzle

throat due to the influence of the boundary layer. In the rotor, the rate of pressure drop

reduces gradually and the pressure changes slightly near the trailing edge, revealing

that the strong working capacity of the rotor can be ensured since the profile of the

rotor blade is well designed. As there is a shock at the rotor leading edge, a tiny low-

pressure area is formed, which leads to a local acceleration of the fluid.

The temperature contours of the turbine at different spans are presented in Fig. 13.

As can be seen, the temperature decreases from 669.5 K at the nozzle inlet to 567.6 K

at the rotor outlet. Rapid change of temperature is observed at the nozzle throat on the

suction side and a local low temperature area can be noticed on the rotor suction

surface as a result of the flow turbulence. Near the outlet region of the rotor, the rate

of temperature variation reduces and the maximun range of low-temperature region is

reached at the 50% span. Besides, a localized low-temperature area is formed near the

outlet region of rotor blade due to the influence of blade thickness. In addition, as the

span rises, the minimum temperature in the flow passage decreases.

Fig. 14 shows the blade-to-blade Mach number distributions of the turbine at

16

different blade heights. The Mach number first rises smoothly in the nozzle passage

and then changes greatly near the throat. The largest Mach number is 0.9981 and is

reached at the nozzle outlet, which means that the flow in the turbine is subsonic and

the chosen nozzle blade profile is appropriate [37]. A low Mach number area is

located on the rotor suction surface where the minimum Mach number is reached. As

the span increases, the area of low Mach number region increases, which is in

accord with the low-velocity area as shown in Fig. 11. At the trailing edge of rotor

blades, the CO2 at high speed is obstructed due to the blade thickness. As a result, a

vortex is generated and the Mach number near the trailing edge is relatively low.

The blade loading of the nozzle and rotor at different spans are demonstrated in

Fig. 15. Because the nozzle blade is straight and the flow in the nozzle passage is

homogeneous without flow separation, the pressure distribution along the nozzle

blade is nearly the same at different spans. On the pressure side, the blade loading

changes slightly at the inlet region and decreases smoothly near the outlet region.

Whereas abrupt pressure change appears on the nozzle suction side near the trailing

edge as a result of boundary layer development.

For the rotor, the CO2 expands along the flow direction as the pressure decreases. It

is illustrated in Fig. 15 that the pressure decreases more gently along with the rotor

blades compared with that along with the nozzle blades. The pressure difference of

the suction side and the pressure side at the rotor outlet increases as the span rises.

Furthermore, the maximum pressure difference occurs at the inlet of the rotor and

decreases along the flow direction, showing that the working capacity of the designed

rotor is satisfactory. Besides, an adverse pressure gradient is observed near the rotor

outlet region and it may lead to flow separation.

The limiting streamlines on the rotor blade surfaces are illustrated in Fig. 16. A

reattachment line appears on the pressure side near the lower end wall and a

separation line occurs near the middle of the suction side because of the flow

separation. With the influence of the radial pressure gradient and circumferential

Coriolis force, vortices could be formed near the rotor inlet area, which leads to the

17

local pressure drop.

For a single rotor passage, the limiting streamlines of the hub surface and shroud

surface are shown in Fig. 17. Affected by the centrifugal force and Coriolis force,

separation of flow occurs in the middle of flow passage and vortices can be observed

on the hub surface. As the span increases, flow uniformity improves and streamlines

are well distributed align the blade profile on the shroud surface.

The previous analysis is based on the numerical simulation with the nozzle and

rotor. As the satisfied results have been obtained as discussed in Table 16, the volute

can then be added to the simulation. In practical situations, a volute is needed to guide

the CO2 before it enters the nozzle, and therefore the flow conditions at the nozzle

inlet are different from the case discussed above. To realize more detailed and

practical analysis, full calculation of the turbine consisting of the volute, nozzle, and

rotor is carried out and similar boundary conditions are given for the simulation. The

total temperature and CO2 mass flow rate at the volute inlet are 673.15 K and 12.74

kgˑs-1, respectively. The average pressure at the rotor outlet is 7.63 MPa and a frozen

rotor is selected for the data transformation between the nozzle and rotor. Comparison

of simulation results is given in Table 17. With the volute added to the simulation, the

total pressure at the turbine inlet and the total-to-static efficiency of the turbine

decrease by 2.16% and 1.95%, respectively.

Fig. 18 illustrates the full simulation streamlines of the turbine. In the volute, the

flow direction of the CO2 follows the volute profile. The peripheral velocity

distributes uniformly, showing that the design of the volute is reasonable and

effective. Then the CO2 enters the nozzle with a certain incidence angle and part of

the CO2 deflects due to the shock on the nozzle blade while the majority of CO2 flows

into the nozzle smoothly. Most of the streamlines in the rotor distribute following the

flow passage while few vortices are present near the inlet region of the rotor blade

since the flow is blocked by the rotor blade. Unlike the simulation without volute, the

18

flow condition in each flow passage is different, which is closer to the actual

operation process.

The pressure and temperature contours of a full simulation are given in Fig. 19. It

can be seen that the pressure and temperature distribute regularly throughout the

turbine and are different in each flow passage. Little fluctuation occurs at the nozzle

throat and the middle of the rotor suction side. The pressure and temperature change

very little in the volute, which demonstrates that the volute plays a role in guiding the

CO2 as expected. For the nozzle and rotor, the pressure and temperature generally

decrease along the flow direction despite some deviations between the pressure side

and suction side. The overall variation trend of the pressure and temperature are

consistent with the condition without the volute, proving the effectiveness of the

volute. Since the variations of the Mach number on the turbine surface are little and

hard to observe, the Mach number distribution on a slice of the turbine is shown in

Fig. 20. In the volute, the Mach number almost keeps unchanged. The maximum

Mach number appears near the nozzle throat, and the flow through the turbine is

subsonic. In some regions in the rotor where the flow velocity is rather low, the low

Mach number area appears accordingly.

As shown in Fig. 21, there is always a clearance between the shroud surface and the

rotor blades in practical use. The large clearance leakage diminishes the turbine

performance significantly. In this section, the performance of turbines with 2%, 4%,

6%, and 8% dimensionless tip clearance are examined. The numerical simulations are

conducted following the steps introduced in section 4 and the same boundary

conditions are given. The total temperature and CO2 mass flow rate at the nozzle inlet

are 673.15 K and 12.74 kgˑs-1, respectively. The average pressure at the rotor outlet is

7.63 MPa.

The cross-section streamlines of turbines with different tip clearance at 1.5

streamwise are demonstrated in Fig. 22. Owing to the existence of the pressure

19

gradient and tip clearances, two vortices are formed on the rotor suction surface.

Under the 2 % tip clearance condition, the area of vortices and the distances between

vortices and the suction surface are small. As tip clearance increases, the leakage flow

from the pressure side to suction side is enhanced and the pressure difference on the

cross-section increases. Consequently, the vortex core of the leakage vortex is

gradually pushed away from the suction surface and the vortex area increases. For the

8% tip clearance condition, the area that the vortices take up increases obviously and

the main stream is significantly obstructed by the leakage flow. Fig. 23 presents the

three-dimensional clearance streamlines of turbines with different tip clearance.

Obvious leakage flow and vortices can be observed. As tip clearance increases, the

flow passage area occupied by the leakage flow increases, revealing that the deviation

of the main flow grows and larger efficiency degradation will be caused.

Table 18 gives the variation of turbine performance parameters with different tip

clearance. As shown in Fig. 22 and Fig. 23, as the dimensionless tip clearance

increases from 2% to 8%, the flow rate and intensity of the leakage flow increase. The

mainstream deflects due to the vortices caused by leakage flow, which means that the

blades cannot guide the flow direction correctly. Therefore, losses in the turbine

increase significantly. As the dimensionless tip clearance increases by 6%, the turbine

efficiency decreases by 3.84% relatively, power output decreases by 49.54 kW, or

4.16%.

For a more detailed analysis of the performance of the designed turbine, the off-

design performances based on CFD simulation are investigated with different rotation

speeds, expansion ratios, and inlet temperatures. The other calculation conditions are

kept the same as presented in section 4. As demonstrated in Fig. 24 (a) and (b), as the

turbine rotation speed increases from 80% to 120% nominal value, the turbine power

output and total-to-total efficiency both increase first and then decrease. As the

turbine inlet temperature increases, the rotation speed of the maximum power output

20

moves towards higher rotation speeds, while the rotation speed of the highest

efficiency moves towards lower rotation speeds. Besides, the rotation speed of the

highest efficiency is slightly higher than the nominal rotation speed.

It can be observed from Fig. 24 (c) that the power output of the turbine increases

with the expansion ratio. At a higher expansion ratio, the turbine with higher rotation

speeds maintains larger power output. As Fig. 24 (d) shows, the expansion ratio with

the highest efficiency is slightly lower than the nominal point. The maximum

variation of efficiency at the nominal rotation speed is 2.58%. At low rotation speed,

the turbine efficiency decreases significantly.

As presented in Fig. 24 (e) and (f), the turbine power output increases with the inlet

temperature. The points at nominal rotation speed maintain the maximum power

output. The turbine efficiencies decrease with the inlet temperature at nominal and

lower rotation speeds, and increase with the inlet temperature at a higher rotation

speed. The maximum variation of turbine efficiency at the nominal rotation speed is

0.82%.

The nominal operation parameters are selected to ensure the maximum net power

output of the S-CO2 cycle. The off-design analysis shows that the designed turbine

can effectively handle the variations of the rotation speed, the expansion ratio, and the

inlet temperature.

6. Conclusion

This paper presents the thermodynamic optimization of an S-CO2 Brayton cycle

under the given heat source condition and conducts the preliminary design of an S-

CO2 radial inflow turbine utilizing the optimized thermodynamic parameters. An RGP

file is encoded to describe the properties of CO2 accurately in CFD simulation. Then

the CFD analysis of the turbine at design and off-design conditions is performed for a

more detailed evaluation of turbine function. Furthermore, the influence of tip

clearance on the turbine performance is investigated. The main outcomes are given

below.

21

(1) The CFD simulation based on the one-dimensional design reveals that the total-

to-static efficiency of the designed turbine can reach 82.53%. The deviation of

preliminary design results and simulation results are in a reasonable range, indicating

that the design method is reliable.

(2) Detailed analysis shows that the turbine performs well under the design

condition. At off-design conditions, the turbine can effectively handle the variation of

parameters.

(3) With the increase of tip clearance, the power output and efficiency of the turbine

decreases and the flow condition in the turbine gets worse.

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support by the National Natural

Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51976147) and K. C. Wong Education

Foundation.

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Table 1

Model validation for the S-CO2 Brayton cycle using the data reported by Reference [28].

T(K) T(K) h/ kJkg-1 h/ kJkg-1

State point P (MPa) Error Error

Ref. [28] Present Ref. [28] Present

(%) (%)

1 18.1 728.15 728.15 0.00 922.22 919.92 -0.25

2 7.5 625.69 634.26 1.37 815.06 823.37 0.10

3 7.5 357.03 364.18 2.00 501.22 511.83 0.21

4 7.4 304.15 304.15 0.00 312.78 311.63 -0.04

5 18.3 334.65 334.17 -0.14 330.89 332.43 0.47

6 18.2 504.19 503.75 -0.09 644.73 643.97 -0.12

Table 2

Calculation condition of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle [30, 31].

Parameter Value

Flue gas inlet temperature (K) 792.15

Flue gas pressure (MPa) 0.12

Flue gas mass flow rate (kgs-1) 9

Efficiency of recuperator (%) 95

Isentropic efficiency of turbine (%) 80

Isentropic efficiency of compressor (%) 80

Inlet temperature difference of vapor generator (K) 15

Ambient temperature (K) 293.15

Ambient Pressure (MPa) 0.1

Table 3

25

Parameters range of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle optimization [32, 33].

Parameter Range

Compressor inlet temperature (K) 305.15-313.15

Turbine inlet pressure (MPa) 16-20

Turbine inlet temperature (K) 673.15-773.15

Expansion ratio 2-3

Table 4

GA calculation conditions [29, 34].

Parameter Value

Number of population 50

Maximum iteration number 300

Crossover probability 0.8

Mutation probability 0.05

Table 5

Thermodynamic optimization results of the S-CO2 Brayton cycle.

Parameter Value

Thermal efficiency (%) 26.88

Net power output (kW) 804.95

Power output of turbine (kW) 1089.79

Net specific work (kJˑkg-1) 63.16

CO2 mass flow rate (kgˑs-1) 12.74

Turbine inlet pressure (kPa) 19309.92

Turbine inlet temperature (K) 673.15

Expansion ratio 2.53

Compressor inlet temperature (K) 305.15

Table 6

Input design parameters of the S-CO2 turbine.

Turbine operating parameter Value

Turbine inlet temperature T2 (K) 673.15

Turbine inlet pressure P2 (kPa) 19309.92

Turbine exit pressure P5 (MPa) 7632.38

Mass flow rate mCO2 (kg·s-1) 12.74

Rotation speed N (rpm) 40000

Table 7

Design parameters of the S-CO2 turbine [37].

Parameter α4 β5 φ ψ xa Ω μ

Range 14-17° 35-55° 0.90-0.97 0.8-0.9 0.6-0.7 0.4-0.55 0.35-0.5

26

Table 8

Loss correlations of the S-CO2 turbine.

Loss Loss correlation

Nozzle loss (Δhn) [39]

hn (1 2 )(1 )hs,25

hi

2

Rotor passage loss (Δhp) [40] w42 cos 2 i w52

hp K p ( )

2

Disk friction loss (Δhf) [41]

m u43 r42

hf f r

2mCO w52 2

2 P4-5,rel

ht

M 52，rel P5，rel

hc ( K a a ca K r r cr K ar a r ca cr )

8

Exit loss (Δhe) c52

he

2

Table 9

Design results of the S-CO2 turbine.

Parameter Symbol Value

Degree of reaction Ω 0.44

Diameter ratio μ 0.35

Velocity ratio xa 0.66

Nozzle velocity coefficient φ 0.92

Rotor velocity coefficient ψ 0.8

Rotor inlet absolute flow angle (º) α4 17

Rotor inlet relative flow angle (º) β4 90.46

Rotor outlet absolute flow angle (º) α5 102.19

Rotor outlet relative flow angle (º) β5 38

Number of nozzle blades Zs 19

Nozzle installation angle (º) αs 29

Nozzle inlet radius (mm) r2 95.09

Nozzle outlet radius (mm) r3 74.67

Nozzle blade height (mm) b2 3.12

Number of rotor blades Zr 12

Rotor inlet radius (mm) r4 72.85

Hub radius at rotor outlet (mm) r5h 15.61

Shroud radius at rotor outlet (mm) r5s 35.39

Blade height at rotor inlet (mm) b4 3.12

Blade height at rotor outlet (mm) b5 19.78

27

Power output of turbine(kW) Wt 1162.49

Turbine efficiency (%) ηtur 85.36

Table 10

Grid independent analysis of the volute.

Group Grid Number Nozzle inlet pressure (kPa) Nozzle inlet temperature(K)

1 1021765 18351.74 673.14

2 1989376 18342.25 672.16

3 2816584 18319.26 672.15

4 3795642 18318.97 672.14

5 5261028 18318.85 672.14

Table 11

Grid independent analysis of the nozzle and rotor.

Group Nozzle Rotor Turbine inlet Turbine power

Grid Number y+ Grid Number y+ pressure output (kW)

(kPa)

1 193312 32.67 193452 32.86 18715.1 1208.65

2 299424 22.51 289248 29.57 18705.7 1204.41

3 384768 18.48 388692 23.64 18690.1 1203.08

4 497016 12.71 486603 18.70 18692.2 1205.88

5 586546 12.11 58716 14.83 18692.4 1205.35

6 680991 8.40 685678 15.23 18691.9 1204.97

7 781020 8.46 771030 12.22 18692.5 1205.56

Table 12

Final mesh quality of the three components.

Component Grid number Evaluation criteria Value

Volute 2816584 Maximum skewwness 0.9996

Average skewwness 0.7580

Maximum aspect ratio 12.0434

Average aspect ratio 4.2028

Nozzle 497016 Minimum volume (m3) 5.64×10-15

Maximum face angle (º) 126.85

Minimum face angle (º) 43.33

Maximum edge length ratio 104.66

Rotor 486603 Minimum volume (m3) 1.37×10-14

Maximum face angle (º) 151.90

Minimum face angle (º) 28.09

Maximum edge length ratio 151.78

Table 13

Validation of the simulation model with experimental results [44].

28

Parameter Test point 1 Test point 2 Test point 3

Boundary conditions

CO2 mass flow rate (kgˑs-1) 0.9734 1.631 1.630

Turbine inlet total pressure (kPa) 8284 9125 9365

Turbine inlet total temperature (ºC) 146.3 146.5 202.0

Rotation speed (rpm) 25000 35069 39140

Test data

Turbine outlet total Experiment 137.9 130.1 182.1

temperature (ºC) Simulation 139.4 131.6 183.9

Error (%) 1.09 1.15 0.99

pressure (kPa) Simulation 7870 7803 7852

Error (%) 3.47 2.89 3.53

(kJ/kg) Simulation 6.08 11.01 15.22

Table 14

Detailed calculation condition of the CFD simulation.

Data type Detail

Turbine stage / Single stage

Model data Reference pressure 0 kPa

Heat transfer Total energy

Turbulence k-epsilon

Inflow T-Total 673.15 K

Mass flow rate 12.74 kgˑs-1

Flow direction Normal to boundary

Outflow P-static 7632.38 kPa

Interface / Frozen rotor

Table 15

Geometry details of the turbine model.

Component Boundary Boundary type Boundary details

S1(stator) R1 to S1 Side 2 Interface Conservative interface flux

S1 Blade Wall No slip wall;

Smooth wall;

Adiabatic

S1 Hub Wall No slip wall;

Smooth wall;

29

Adiabatic

S1 Inlet Inlet mCO2=12.74 kgˑs-1

TTotal=673.15 K

S1 Shroud Wall No slip wall;

Smooth wall;

Adiabatic

S1 to S1 Periodic Side 1 Interface Conservative interface flux

S1 to S1 Periodic Side 2 Interface Conservative interface flux

R1(rotor) R1 to S1 Side 1 Interface Conservative interface flux

R1 Blade Wall No slip wall;

Smooth wall;

Adiabatic

R1 Hub Wall No slip wall;

Smooth wall;

Adiabatic

R1 Outlet Inlet PStatic =7632.38 kPa

R1 Shroud Wall No slip wall;

Smooth wall;

Adiabatic

R1 to R1 Periodic Side 1 Interface Conservative interface flux

R1 to R1 Periodic Side 2 Interface Conservative interface flux

Table 16

Comparison of one-dimensional design value and numerical simulation results without volute.

Parameter One-dimensional Numerical Deviation (%)

design value simulation result

Performance parameter

Total-to-static efficiency (%) 85.36 82.53 -3.32

Power output of turbine (kW) 1162.49 1205.88 3.73

CO2 mass flow rate (kgˑs-1) 12.74 12.41 -2.59

Turbine inlet total pressure (kPa) 19309.92 18692.20 -3.20

Table 17

Three-dimensional simulation results of the turbines with and without volute.

Parameter With volute Without volute Deviation (%)

Performance parameters

Total-to-static efficiency (%) 80.75 82.53 -2.16

Power output (kW) 1193.91 1205.88 -0.99

Nozzle inlet total pressure (kPa) 18327.25 18692.20 -1.95

Boundary condition

CO2 mass flow rate (kgˑs-1) 12.68 12.41 /

Turbine inlet total temperature (K) 672.16 673.15 /

Turbine outlet static pressure (kPa) 7632.67 7633.09 /

30

Table 18

Performance parameters of the turbine with different tip clearance.

Dimensionless tip Total-to-total isentropic Power output (kW) CO2 mass flow rate

clearance (%) efficiency (%) (kgˑs-1)

2 91.44 1190.69 12.67

4 89.77 1171.57 12.65

6 88.82 1157.18 12.59

8 87.93 1141.15 12.51

31

840

800

Mean Wnet

Wnet (kW)

720

680

640

600

560

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70

Generation

32

Fig. 4. Enthalpy-entropy diagram of the turbine expansion process

33

Fig. 7. Schematic of volute

(a) Volute

34

(b) Single passage of nozzle (c) Single passage of rotor

Fig. 9. Computational grid of the components

35

(b) 50% span

Fig. 11. Velocity vectors of the turbine at different spans

36

(c) 80% span

Fig. 12. Static pressure contours of the turbine at different spans

Fig. 13. Temperature contours of the turbine at different spans

37

(a) 20% span

Fig. 14. Mach number contours of the turbine at different spans

38

(b) Rotor blade

Fig. 15. Static pressure distribution of the turbine at different spans

Fig. 16. Limiting streamlines of the rotor blade

Fig. 17. Limiting streamlines of the rotor end walls

39

Fig. 18. Full simulation streamline of the turbine

(a)Pressure

(b)Temperature

Fig. 19. Pressure and temperature contours of full simulation

40

Fig. 20. Mach number distribution of the turbine cross section

41

(c) 6% tip clearance

Fig. 22. Cross section streamlines of turbines with different tip clearance at 1.5 streamwise

42

Fig. 23. Clearance streamlines of turbines with different tip clearance

(a) Variation of turbine power with the (b) Variation of turbine total-to-total efficiency

rotation speed at different inlet temperature with the rotation speed at different inlet

temperature

(c) Variation of turbine power with the (d) Variation of turbine total-to-total efficiency

expansion ratio at different rotation speed with the expansion ratio at different rotation

speed

(e) Variation of turbine power with the inlet (f) Variation of turbine total-to-total efficiency

temperature at different rotation speed with the inlet temperature at different rotation

speed

Fig. 24 Variation of the turbine performance parameters under off-design condition

43

Highlights

Optimization of the S-CO2 cycle and design of the S-CO2 turbine are conducted.

Comprehensive CFD simulation and analysis for the turbine are performed.

44

Author statement

Kehan Zhou: Conceptualization, Methodology, Software, Formal analysis,

Investigation, Writing - Original Draft, Writing - Review & Editing

Jiangfeng Wang: Conceptualization, Supervision, Project administration, Funding

acquisition

Jiaxi Xia: Resources, Investigation, Writing - Review & Editing

Yuming Guo: Data Curation, Visualization

Pan Zhao: Supervision, Project administration

Yiping Dai: Supervision, Project administration

45

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest to this work. There is no

commercial or associative interest that represents a conflict of interest in connection

with the work submitted.

46

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