The age of steam has generally referred to the use of the Steam engine from 1770 to 1914 However, for power generation, we have not left the age of steam. It will take the next several decades to scale up supercritical CO2 turbines. The other class of technologies for ending the age of steam would be to directly convert fast-moving charged particles [from fusion power] directly into electrical current. Wind, solar and hydro also do not involve steam but they have not eliminated steam turbine power from fossil fuels.
Toshiba Corporation announced that it will supply a first-of-a-kind supercritical CO2 turbine to a demonstration plant being built in Texas, USA. The plant will be developed by NET Power, LLC, a U.S. venture, together with CB and I, the most complete energy infrastructure focused company in the world, Exelon Corporation, one of the leading competitive energy providers in the U.S., and 8 Rivers Capital, the inventor of the unique supercritical CO2 power cycle that will be demonstrated by this plant. The turbine is an essential part of the system, and Toshiba will start delivering the key equipment in August 2016. The plant is expected to enter the commissioning stage later in 2016.
Supercritical CO2 could make coal plants up to 40% more efficient and enable capture of pipeline ready CO2.
Supercritical CO2 technology can make solar and nuclear power more efficient and lower cost as well. Those energy sources would not require the efficiency gains to be used on CO2 capture and storage.
Instead of 40% cheaper electricity using efficiency to pay for cost of Capturing CO2
New Supercritical CO2 power cycle could utilize pressurized oxy-combustion in conjunction with cryogenic compression to achieve the DOE goals of 90 percent CO2 removal at no more than a 35 percent increase in cost of electricity (COE) as well as high overall plant efficiencies with CO2 compression to 2,200 psia. Supercritical CO2 would use the 40% efficiency gain of going to about 800 degrees celsius to enable CO2 90% removal at the same cost as current coal or natural gas plants.
The technological challenge and efficiency gains of leaving steam technology is proposed to be spent on capturing CO2.
Nextbigfuture reviewed the supercritical CO2 turbine roadmap. The Toshiba work is executing to the dates on that roadmap.
* Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are involved with Toshiba, Echogen, Dresser Rand, GE, Barber-Nichols in S-CO2 cycles.
* Toshiba, The Shaw Group and Exelon Corporation are engaged in a consortium agreement to develop Net Power’s gas-fired generation technology with zero emissions target. This approach uses an oxy-combustion, high pressure, S-CO2 cycle, named Allam Cycle. Toshiba will design, test and manufacture a combustor and turbine for a 25MW natural gas-fired plant. A 250MW full-scale plant is expected by 2017.
* Echogen Power Systems has been developing a power generation cycle for waste heat recovery, CHP, geothermal and hybrid as alternative to the internal combustion engine.
* Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne is engaged with Argonne National Laboratories in a project with aim to integrate a 1000 MW nuclear plant with a S-CO2 cycle.
The reasons of growing interest toward this technology are manifold:
* simple cycle efficiency potentially above 50%;
* near zero – emissions cycle;
* footprints one hundredth of traditional turbomachinery for the same power output due to the high density of working fluid;
* extraction of “pipeline ready” CO2 for sequestration or enhanced oil recovery, without both CO2 capture facilities and compression systems;
* integration with concentrating solar power (CSP), waste heat, nuclear and geothermal, with high efficiency in energy conversion;
* applications with severe volume constraints such as ship propulsion
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.