Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is part of a team awarded $80m from the Department of Energy (DOE) to design, build, and operate a pilot plant to demonstrate supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power cycles.

The facility is expected to advance this technology as part of DOE’s Supercritical Transformational Electric Power (STEP) programme, aimed at meeting national climate and energy goals by providing cleaner, more affordable power sources.

The 10 megawatt electric pilot power plant will be located at SwRI’s headquarters in San Antonio and will tie into the power grid.

SwRI President Adam L. Hamilton, Professional Engineer, said, “Southwest Research Institute has been conducting research that supports the energy sector for nearly 70 years.”

“We are proud to be part of a project that will demonstrate the world’s first large-scale sCO2 power plant.” Hamilton added.

Turbomachinery power cycles using sCO2 can reach higher thermal efficiencies than conventional techniques, making the technology an attractive alternative for power generation.

The Gas Technology Institute (GTI) will lead the six-year project, and provide system engineering and test management; GE Global Research will be responsible for turbomachinery design and fabrication.

In addition to hosting the pilot plant, SwRI will be responsible for the test facility design, implementation, and operation as well as turbomachinery evaluation. Further project support will be provided by original equipment manufacturers, international research and development organisations, universities, and power system utilities.

Engineering concept drawing of the plant

Engineering concept drawing of the plant