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GE Global Research and Southwest Research Institute will develop an optimal compression system for a modular supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power block operation in highly transient CSP tower applications. Supercritical carbon dioxide can be used to replace steam in CSP applications and gets a much greater power output at a lower cost. This project was announced on September 16, 2015 at the Solar Power International conference. Read the press release.
The compression system to be developed in this program will provide high-pressure carbon dioxide compression at state-of-the-art isentropic efficiency, required for the operation of a tower mounted, modular, recompression type sCO2 power cycle with a wide operating range. It will be coupled with the turbo-expander being developed under the Southwest Research Institute program for CSP power tower applications.
The density of carbon dioxide, and thus the flow, varies significantly during operation of the sCO2-based power block due to even small variations in ambient temperature. This megawatt-scale modular fixed-speed compressor train with wide operability is a significant step in sCO2 turbo-machinery technology, advancing the state-of-the-art sCO2 power block technology. The sCO2 compression train with wide operability is critical for an optimized CSP sCO2 power plant and provides a major stepping stone on the pathway to achieve CSP power at $0.06/kWh.