French multinational electric and gas company Engie has joined the Supercritical Transformational Electric Power (STEP) project known as STEP Demo, led by GTI in collaboration with Southwest Research Institute and GE Research.

The project is a unique demonstration of next-generation, higher-efficiency, lower-cost electric power plants enabled by supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) technology. 

With funding from the US Department of Energy/National Energy Technology Laboratory and other industry partners, the project has designed, built and constructed a 10-megawatt-electric sCO2 pilot plant.

Equipment installation is currently underway at the campus in Texas, with operational start-up anticipated next year. 

The STEP demo pilot plant will be used to advance the supercritical carbon dioxide Brayton power cycle and demonstrate performance over a range of operating conditions.

Using sCO2 as a working fluid for power cycles, instead of steam/water, will result in lower capital costs, as well as reduced plant size and footprint.

“Engie supports its customers in their carbon neutral energy transition and clean power generation is an important part of this. Not only is the efficiency of power generation important, the need for flexibility is also growing,” said Dr. Jan Mertens, Chief Science Officer at Engie.

“The ability of power plants to ramp up and down quickly is critical to complement the intermittent character of the rising share of renewable power generation.”

“SCO2 Brayton cycle systems—particularly with natural or green gas power generation applications—have the potential to increase both efficiency and flexibility, and this project will help us better understand its potential and challenges.”

“We are pleased to have our first European partner on this project,” said Michael Rutkowski, GTI Senior Vice President, Research and Technology Development.

“International collaboration is critically important to successfully address the worldwide need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Transformational sCO2-based power cycles offer dramatically improved efficiencies, economics, and environmental performance. They can play an important role in the transition to low-carbon energy.”