Advanced science.  Applied technology.


SwRI-led team receives $972,000 Energy Department contract

San Antonio — Dec. 16, 2015 — A team led by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is one of three selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to provide a conceptual design of a 10 MWe (megawatts electric) supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power cycle test facility. The $972,000 contract will support DOE’s Supercritical Transformational Electric Power (STEP) program. The objective of STEP is to help meet national climate and energy goals by providing cleaner and more affordable power sources.

“This project is the initial step toward building the world’s first large-scale supercritical CO2 demonstration power plant,” said Dr. Klaus Brun, a program director in SwRI’s Mechanical Engineering Division. “SwRI has been involved in developing supercritical CO2 cycles for the past seven years and continues to be one of the leaders in this promising technology.”

Supercritical CO2 is carbon dioxide at a pressure and temperature above its critical point, the point where a fluid could exist as either a liquid or as a gas. In this state it behaves like a very dense gas. Power cycles using supercritical CO2 can reach higher thermal efficiencies than with the steam or water used in conventional power plants.

SwRI and team members GE Global Research, GE Power & Water, Thar Energy, Heatric USA, Optimus Industries, Foster Wheeler, EnerconAmerica, Aramco Services Company, CPS Energy, and The University of Texas at San Antonio will address several elements during the six-month effort including power cycle definition, layout, and cost; equipment specification; instrumentation and controls; and plant siting.

“Over the next several months, we will investigate and develop novel concepts for both the power cycle and the test facility,” said Senior Research Engineer Dr. Aaron McClung, who will lead the SwRI project team. “DOE will evaluate our concept and those of the other two teams, with the goal of selecting one or two for further development. Ultimately, the pilot test facility will serve as a proving ground, leading to potential commercialization of sCO2 technologies.”

For more information, contact SwRI Solutions.