STEP Demo plant makes breakthrough for sCO2 facility

The Supercritical Transformational Electric Power (STEP) Demo pilot plant, a USD 169M, 10-megawatt supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) test facility at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, has achieved an industry first during commissioning by firing its natural gas heater and operating its turbine up to an intermediate speed of 18,000 rpm.

The STEP Demo project developed in collaboration with SwRI, GTI Energy, GE Vernova, the U.S. Department of Energy/National Energy Technology Laboratory (U.S. DOE/NETL), and several industry participants. The project’s central goal is to dramatically improve the efficiency, economics, operational flexibility, space requirements and environmental performance of this new technology.

STEP Demo is a unique facility designed to demonstrate high-temperature sCO2 power generation, which increases efficiency by as much as 10% due to its favourable thermodynamic properties. The sCO2 turbomachinery is approximately one-tenth the size of conventional power plant components, which shrinks the physical footprint and construction cost of any new facilities. Additionally, the sCO2 power cycles are compatible with many heat sources including concentrating solar power, industrial waste heat, geothermal power and advanced nuclear power plants.

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