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A New Technology That Could Shrink Power Plants Tenfold

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Researchers from SERIIUS have developed a technology that uses super critical carbon dioxide instead of steam in power plants.

Solar Energy Research Institute for India and United States (SERIIUS) is a joint US-India research center focusing on solar energy.

A power plant based on super critical carbon dioxide instead of steam would be a tenth of the size of the conventional setup of the same capacity.

Countries like the US, Germany and South Korea are working on this technology.

“Once this technology comes you will see a dramatic change,” Kamanio Chattopadhyay, Director (India), SERIIUS said.

Mr. Chattopadhyay was speaking on the sidelines of the ‘International Conference on Energy Options for Tomorrow: Technology to Sustainability (ICEOT) 2017.

In conventional thermal power plants, steam is used to carry heat away from the source and turn a turbine to generate power.

However, with super critical carbon dioxide (S-CO2) efficiency of energy conversion can be enhanced to around 50 per cent.

The term ‘super-critical’ describes the state of carbon dioxide above its critical temperature of 31 degrees Celsius and critical pressure of 73 atmospheres, making it twice as dense as steam.

Smaller turbines and power blocks can make the power plant cheaper, while higher efficiency would significantly reduce CO2 emissions for fossil fuel-based plants.

Moreover, if the power plant used solar or nuclear heat source, it would mean higher capacity at lower operating costs.

In order to help make this technology a reality, a research group led jointly by Pramod Kumar and Pradip Dutta is setting up the world’s first S-CO2 based solar thermal test loop at the laboratory scale at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Research at the Indian Institute of Science at Bengaluru. The IISC has been selected to lead SERIIUS.

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