GE says it has developed a revolutionary new turbine which could help tackle the energy crisis by taking waste CO2 and turning it onto on-demand electricity.
This incredible invention might be no bigger than a car exhaust but on its own it has the potential to power an entire town.
What you’re looking at is GE’s revolutionary new ‘minirotor’ or ‘sunrotor’ which takes the harmful CO2 generated by massive solar energy farms or gas turbines and then turns it into even more electricity.
While turbines normally require steam to operate this one has been designed to use CO2, heated and compressed into a supercritical fluid giving it some astonishing properties.
Here’s how it works: Heat from the sun is collected in the form of molten salt, then when electricity is needed the molten salt is used to superheat the CO2 which has until then been stored as dry ice.
This superheated CO2 becomes a supercritical fluid which is then fed into the turbine which in turn spins it.
The end result? Enough electricity to power 10,000 homes, all from something no bigger than a table.
While this isn’t a solution for the energy crisis, it’s an incredible new way of utilising the harmful CO2 which would otherwise end up being wasted, maximising the performance of solar energy farms or traditional gas turbine stations.
Doug Hofer, a steam turbine specialist at GE Global Research said: “With energy demand expected to rise by 50 percent over the next two decades, we can’t afford to wait for new, cleaner energy solutions to power the planet,”
“We have to innovate now and make energy generation as efficient as possible. Programs like those we are working on with the U.S. Department of Energy are helping us get there.”
Normally a turbine capable of generating this much power would weigh several tonnes, but with the ‘Sunrotor’ GE believes they have themselves a winner.
“This compact machine will allow us to do amazing things,” Hofer says. “The world is seeking cleaner and more efficient ways to generate power. The concepts we are exploring with this machine are helping us address both.”