The Gas Technology Institute (GTI), together with partners Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and GE Global Research , has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) for an $80 million award to design, build, and operate a 10 MWe (megawatts electrical) sCO2 pilot power plant.
In Brayton power cycles, high-power-density turbomachinery utilizes supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) as the working fluid. Historically, Brayton power cycles have only been used in spacecraft applications where compact, lightweight, high-energy-density power conversion is required, but these advantages are now being applied to terrestrial power generation for the step-change increase in efficiency and corresponding reduction in emissions they offer.
GTI will design, construct, commission, and operate a versatile 10 MWe sCO2 pilot-plant test facility located at SwRI’s San Antonio, Texas campus. The project will operate at a turbine inlet temperature of at least 700°C aimed at advancing the state-of-the-art high-temperature sCO2 power cycle performance from proof-of-concept to a validated prototype operational system.
The project will address the research and development needs of the component vendors and support the risk reduction and commercialization needs of the systems integrators and end users. Developing and maturing the technology at pilot scale will spur the development of necessary equipment, understanding, and characterization needed for larger-scale sCO2 power conversion systems.
“GTI is excited that our team was selected by DOE-NETL to advance this critical new technology for clean power generation,” says Eddie Johnston, senior vice president, GTI research and technology development. “We will bring all the essential elements together to dramatically improve the efficiency of power plants and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Over the last decade, GTI project staff (formerly with Aerojet Rocketdyne) established a leadership position in sCO2 technology with work in cycle modeling and optimization, economic evaluations, advanced materials characterization, and design studies of key components (such as turbines, compressors, and recuperators.) In early 2016, GTI completed conceptual plans to support the design, cost, and schedule for the 10 MWe sCO2 Brayton Cycle test facility with funding from U.S. DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy (NE), in cooperation with the Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
“Our re-energized technology group is tapping the extensive energy and aerospace experience of the team to lower energy costs and provide cleaner sources of fuel and power,” says Don Stevenson, executive director of GTI’s new Advanced Energy Systems office in California.
Beyond this project, GTI researchers are working on a portfolio of technologies that can reduce the cost and environmental impact of electrical power plants. These include novel uses of captured CO2, advanced power cycles using supercritical CO2 rather than steam, low-cost oxygen generation (for oxy-combustion), and more efficient CO2 capture methods for plants without oxy-combustion.