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This Tiny Turbine Could Be the Next Big Thing in Power

The SC

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Driven by "supercritical fluid," the turbine could someday leave steam in the dust.



GE Global Research

Jet engines may be getting bigger, but power plant turbines might be getting smaller. The tech is still in its early stages but GE Global Research is developing a turbine that—though only the size of the average desk—could someday power entire towns.

Doug Hofer, a steam turbine specialist at GE Global Research, is shown holding a model of the turbine above, a real-size model that is much tinier than common steam turbines that are bigger than you and weigh several tons. And while that may only be a model made of plastic instead of steel, the principle behind it could have a big effect on the future of turbine power.

Instead of being pushed by steam, like most power plant turbines, the "minirotor" as Hofer calls it is pushed by CO2. Not gaseous CO2, or liquid CO2, but CO2 so hot and pressurized that it forms what is called a supercritical fluid, a state of heat and pressure so extreme that the distinctions between liquid and gas basically cease to exist.

The tiny turbine's design is intended to harness the power of this specific (and weird) state of matter which could make the turbines as much as 50 percent efficient at turning heat to electricity, a significant improvement over ~45 percent efficient steam turbines, according to MIT's Technology News. On top of that, these turbines should be relatively easy to spin up or down as demand shifts allowing power plants to more accurately tweak supply on the fly.

The prototype design is a 10 MW turbine, though GE hopes to be able to scale the tech to enough to power a city, somewhere in the 500 megawatt range. The first physical tests are scheduled for later this year.

Source: GE Reports, MIT Technology News
 

niaz

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My Master’s Thesis was on Fluidization in gas / solid systems and I had to study a lot of Thermodynamics to understand behaviour of gasses under high temperature & pressure. That is where I came across Van der Waais equation but at that time I was only 22 years old and had many other things (girls) on my mind, therefore subjects that did not directly influence my experiments were only delved into in a cursory manner.

Carbon Dioxide is of course the most studied and experimented gas in the super critical state because its critical point is only 31 deg C and critical pressure only 73.8 bars. This post has rekindled my interest and I intend to dig a little deeper into the properties of super critical fluids. However at this stage, will I be able to fully grasp the associated Mathematics is another matter?
 

Blue Marlin

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they have something similar on subs if im not mistaken where steam is compressed so much to run turbines and in the event of a leak you wont be able to see the "steam"
compressing a form of can yeild more energy, jet engines compress air to run turbines, pistons compress air for cars.
steam personally has the most potentail.
 

Providence

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My Master’s Thesis was on Fluidization in gas / solid systems and I had to study a lot of Thermodynamics to understand behaviour of gasses under high temperature & pressure. That is where I came across Van der Waais equation but at that time I was only 22 years old and had many other things (girls) on my mind, therefore subjects that did not directly influence my experiments were only delved into in a cursory manner.

Carbon Dioxide is of course the most studied and experimented gas in the super critical state because its critical point is only 31 deg C and critical pressure only 73.8 bars. This post has rekindled my interest and I intend to dig a little deeper into the properties of super critical fluids. However at this stage, will I be able to fully grasp the associated Mathematics is another matter?
Van der Waals equation !
 

The SC

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they have something similar on subs if im not mistaken where steam is compressed so much to run turbines and in the event of a leak you wont be able to see the "steam"
compressing a form of can yeild more energy, jet engines compress air to run turbines, pistons compress air for cars.
steam personally has the most potentail.
There is a thread i have posed on PDF's Naval warfare section called the new Turkish AIP, which is based on this principle..
 

niaz

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Van der Waals equation !
Anyone who has read Thermodynamics / fluid dynamics would know a lot more than me. The equation deals with the relationship of compressible fluids with the temperature, volume & pressure.

I came across it 50 years ago as supplementary reading during my research days. Please don’t ask me to explain because then I would have to surf the internet for references; something your good self and anyone else can do easily enough.

The post just reminded me of the times when Niaz was young and at his prime.without a care in the world except studying.
 
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Echo_419

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Anyone who has read Thermodynamics / fluid dynamics would know a lot more than me. The equation deals with the relationship of compressible fluids with the temperature, volume & pressure.

I came across it 50 years ago as supplementary reading during my research days. Please don’t ask me to explain because then I would have to surf the internet for references; something your good self and anyone else can do easily enough.

The post just reminded me of the times when Niaz was young and at his prime.without a care in the world except studying.
If you don't mind me asking, exactly how old are you?
 

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