Physical Insights

An independent scientist’s observations on society, technology, energy, science and the environment. “Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop. Many passengers would rather have stayed home.” – Carl Sagan

Water and cooling requirements for large thermal power plants.

with 2 comments

I was involved in a bit of discussion recently about the cooling of large thermohydraulic (i.e. heat engine) generatng stations, their use of water, and the like. I was thus inspired to to a bit of thinking, research and writing about the issue. The little essay or discussion piece that I’ve put together can be found here, and I encourage you to please have a read if you’re interested and tell me what you think. I’ll keep it online in that PDF since it’s a little long, and I’ve used a little math typesetting which is a hassle to transcribe across to the blog post.


Written by Luke Weston

September 5, 2008 at 4:54 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Interesting paper. So far no thermal plant seems to have done evaporative cooling with vapour recovery as is done in food processing and industrial airconditioning. Higher unit profit margins may offset lower efficiency however. Even if these limits are hard the advantages are so great of inland or outback locations for reactor sites that the tradeoff may be justified. It would be a lot easier politically to site a nuclear reactor of any type at Broken Hill than Byron Bay. Incidentally the former has a 300 GL ‘pond’ at Menindee Lakes plus transmission corridors. If inland reactors paid the going rate (say $2000 a megalitre) for river or groundwater then evaporative losses may be acceptable to the public since it is well away from their cozy seaside suburbs. The latest weak Garnaut proposals may not help the economics though.

    John Newlands

    September 5, 2008 at 11:46 pm

  2. Some more thoughts as I regard this is a major issue. Firstly there is some dispute as to the emissions reductions at Kogan Ck power station due to the energy penalty of the air cooled heat exchanger. The generator claims 22% savings but I have seen that revised down to 5%. I note they have external water sprays for the ‘radiator’ on standby for heatwave conditions. Siemens Ltd has given some thought to the issue of inland power stations. I wonder if an energy penalty of up to 30% while extremely wasteful may be acceptable for cycled water cooling and long distance transmission. That would depend on carbon trading, fossil fuel prices and how much the public wanted to keep plant away from rivers and coastlines.

    John Newlands

    September 7, 2008 at 4:04 am

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