A team led by Gas Technology Institute (GTI®), Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) and General Electric Global Research (GE-GR), along with the University of Wisconsin and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), is actively executing a project called “STEP” [Supercritical Transformational Electric Power project], to design, construct, commission, and operate an integrated and reconfigurable 10 MWe sCO2 [supercritical CO2] Pilot Plant Test Facility. The $122* million project is funded $84 million by the US DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL Award Number DE-FE0028979) and $38* million by the team members, component suppliers and others interested in sCO2 technology. The facility is currently under construction and is located at SwRI’s San Antonio, Texas, USA campus. This project is a significant step toward sCO2 cycle based power generation commercialization and is informing the performance, operability, and scale-up to commercial plants.

Significant progress has been made. The design phase is complete (Phase 1) and included procurements of long-lead time deliver components. Now well into Phase 2, most major equipment is in fabrication and several completed and delivered. These efforts have already provided valuable project learnings for technology commercialization. A ground-breaking was held in October of 2018 and now civil work and the construction of a dedicated 25,000 ft2 building has progressed and is largely completed at the San Antonio, TX, USA project site.

Supercritical CO2 (sCO2) power cycles are Brayton cycles that utilize supercritical CO2 working fluid to convert heat to power. They offer the potential for higher system efficiencies than other energy conversion technologies such as steam Rankine or Organic Rankine cycles this especially when operating at elevated temperatures. sCO2 power cycles are being considered for a wide range of applications including fossil-fired systems, waste heat recovery, concentrated solar power, and nuclear power generation.

By the end of this 6-year STEP pilot demo project, the operability of the sCO2 power cycle will be demonstrated and documented starting with facility commissioning as a simple closed recuperated cycle configuration initially operating at a 500°C (932°F) turbine inlet temperature and progressing to a recompression closed Brayton cycle technology (RCBC) configuration operating at 715°C (1319 °F).

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