A team led by General Electric Research (GER) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) was tasked to design, build and test an advanced 4MW CO2 compressor that would operate near the liquid-vapor dome for Carbon Dioxide (CO2). The US Department of Energy (DoE) Solar Technologies Office (SETO) funded program was targeted towards a Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant where optimum power cycle efficiency can be obtained when operated close to the liquid-vapor dome where CO2 is a supercritical fluid (sCO2) as compression power is reduced in the main compressor. However, the CSP cycle and other related supercritical CO2 cycles (fossil, nuclear, waste heat recovery) have considerable compression challenges both mechanically and aerodynamically when operating with a high density fluid that exceeds 70% the density of water. The subject of this paper is highlighting the challenge in determining compressor performance using industry standard measurements. This application is the highest density industrial-scale centrifugal compressor in the world at 720 kg/m3.

This paper will investigate the uncertainty when measuring compressor efficiency using ASME PTC-10 instrumentation and the effect of the strong CO2 property variation when operating as a supercritical fluid, near the fluid-vapor dome. Prior work in this area by Wahl will be summarized and compared with the current compressor test program uncertainty. It will be shown that Wahl predicted high uncertainty as well although, the current testing program is even closer to the liquid-vapor dome than the test program under Wahl.

The uncertainty analysis has shown that traditional PTC-10 temperature measurements lead to high levels of uncertainty for sCO2 compression near the liquid-vapor dome. The uncertainty is driven by the large changes in thermodynamic properties of sCO2. These property changes are affected by the measured pressure and temperature; however, temperature measurement error is the primary contributor to uncertainty. Because of this, looking at alternate sCO2 property measurements was investigated. Higher quality localized pressure calibration, improving flow measurement accuracy, and measuring density in addition to temperature all significantly improved efficiency uncertainty. The authors confirmed the most significant measurement change is to measure pressure and density through either a densitometer or a Coriolis flow meter which provides a density measurement in conjunction with flow rate accuracy.

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