New tiny turbine could power a small town.
Engineers from GE Global Research have revealed their new tiny turbine which is capable of producing enough energy to power 10,000 homes. This new creation which is powered by completely green means has been heralded as a potential breakthrough in the quest to find new sources of environmentally sound forms of energy production.
Traditional energy producing turbines weigh tons and use steam to produce their power but the newest form of turbine is much smaller at approximately only 150 pounds and runs on carbon dioxide. So how does it work?
Carbon dioxide is funneled into the turbine and exposed to high heat and extreme pressure. This causes the carbon dioxide to transform into a physical state lying somewhere between a gas and a liquid. The turbine then transfers half of the heat produced by the chemical reaction which becomes electricity. The carbon dioxide which is not used in the initial energy burst is transferred to be cooled before passing through to be heated up again. In this way, the carbon dioxide circulates constantly within the internal mechanism of the turbine ensuring that there is no waste product to the process.
According to the researchers, the current model of the carbon dioxide turbine allows for around 10,000 kilowatts of energy to be produced which is enough to power an entire small town. It is hoped that with further development that the technology could be scaled up to the point where it could produce up to 500 megawatts. The researchers say that this would be enough to power a whole city.
Owing to the finite nature of fossil fuels as an energy source, the United States government is beginning to look closely at new ways of producing energy in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly method. This new form of turbine is one of the most promising leads that the United States is currently looking at and various government agencies are coordinating with the researchers to test out the technology.
As MIT notes in the release, "Steam-based systems are typically in the mid-40 percent range; the improvement is achieved because of the better heat-transfer properties and reduced need for compression in a system that uses supercritical carbon dioxide compared to one that uses steam. The GE prototype is 10 megawatts, but the company hopes to scale it to 33 megawatts."