GE Global Research has been doing its part to save the planet for some years now. And this desk-sized turbine is just another feather in their cap. This sustainable turbine uses carbon dioxide to produce efficient energy. Don’t let its size fool you. It can produce enough energy to power a small town!
The turbine’s capacity has been put as energy for 10,000 homes, according to its creators. It has the incredible potential to solve most of the world’s energy woes very easily too.
A traditional turbine runs on steam and weighs many tons. Yet the one designed by GEGR weighs just about 68kgs and uses carbon dioxide instead of steam. The lead engineer of this project was Doug Hofer who worked on it in Albany, NY. He explained the huge impact of this small device packs. As we keep looking for more and more efficient and cleaner sources of energy which can generate power for the whole wide world. This invention was aimed at just these problems.
With its design, the turbine has the capacity to produce almost 10,000 kilowatts of clean energy. But as with all innovations, scientists are busy trying to find ways to scale up the output of the turbine. The current target is to advance it enough to make it generate at least 500 megawatts- the energy a small town requires!
CO2 is put under extreme pressure and very high heat. These conditions make carbon dioxide turn into a stage which falls in between the physical states of liquid and gas. Half of this heat energy is then transformed into electricity by the turbine.
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The turbine has a great design too. Powering it on or off is a breeze and this makes it better suited for grid storage. This turbine thus edges forward as wind and solar power are difficult to store in grids. Thus this turbine is not only more efficient but also sustainable.
Another great addition is the closed-loop of the system. This means that CO2 will circulate in the turbine continuously till it is used up 100%. No waste! In more technical terms, the unit utilizes “supercritical carbon dioxide” which can withstand temperatures of nearly 700C and very high levels of pressure. After one cycle of harvesting its power, the gas is cooled down and stabilized before going for another run.
On its release, MIT mentioned how steam-powered turbines can manage to harness 40-50%. But the use of supercritical carbon dioxide along with superior heat-transfer capability and lower levels of pressure, because of the excellent build of this turbine, makes it much superior to the steam ones. The prototype was 10,000 kilowatts but the team is trying to push it to 33 megawatts. Not only this, the turbine is time-efficient as well. While it takes 1-2 minutes to get started, steam systems take up to 30 minutes!
The team was last coordinating with multiple agencies of the US government to test their turbines.
Image Credit: GE Global Research