U.S. Department of Energy

Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Turbo-Expander and Heat Exchangers

SWRI logo Illustration that diagrams compressors, seals, bearings, and a high-speed generator.

Conceptual layout of an integrated, high-efficiency supercritical CO2 hot gas turbo-expander that is optimized for the highly transient solar power plant duty cycle profile.

The Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) and its partners, under the 2012 Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) SunShot R&D funding opportunity announcement (FOA), are developing a supercritical carbon dioxide (s-CO2) power cycle that combines high efficiencies and low costs for modular CSP applications.

Approach

The SWRI team is working to advance the state-of-the-art s-CO2 turbo-expander design from laboratory testing to full prototype demonstration.

The project goals are to:

  • Develop a novel, high-efficiency s-CO2 hot-gas turbo-expander optimized for CSP applications
  • Optimize novel printed-circuit heat exchangers for s-CO2 applications to drastically reduce their manufacturing costs
  • Test the s-CO2 turbo-expander and novel s-CO2 heat exchanger in a 1-MWe s-CO2 test loop
  • Demonstrate component performance and the performance of the optimized s-CO2 Brayton cycle over a wide range of partial-load conditions and during transient operations representative of a typical CSP duty cycle.

Innovation

The scalable s-CO2 expander design and improved heat exchanger close two critical technology gaps required for an optimized CSP s-CO2 power plant. Successfully developing these systems represents a major stepping-stone on the pathway to achieving a levelized cost of energy of $0.06 per kilowatt-hour, and increasing energy conversion efficiency to greater than 50%.

Publications, Patents, and Awards

At this time, this project does not have published articles, patents, or awards.

SunShot logo

The SunShot CSP R&D program seeks to accelerate progress toward the cost target of $0.06 per kilowatt-hour through novel and revolutionary research into CSP technologies. Learn about other DOE competitive awards for concentrating solar power research that are in progress.