Southwest Research Institute and The University of Texas at San Antonio are collaborating to gather data for a computational model for supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) energy generation. The project is supported by a $125,000 USD grant from the Connecting through Research Partnerships (Connect) Program.
sCO2 is carbon dioxide held above a critical temperature and pressure, which causes it to act like a gas while holding the density of a liquid. Typically power plants use water as a thermal medium in power cycles. Replacing water with sCO2 would increase the efficiency by as much as 10%.
Due to the efficiency of sCO2 as a thermal medium, power plant turbomachinery can be a tenth the size of conventional power plant equipment, which offers the potential to reduce environmental footprints as well as the construction costs of new facilities. This new type of power cycle would allow for a higher efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions.