Engineers have created a turbine which has the power to provide electricity to a small town all the even though being no bigger than your office desk. Introduced by GE Global Research, the turbine could provide power to almost 10,000 homes and according to engineers, it could help to resolve some of the world's growing energy challenges. But instead of steam, which is normally used to get the turbines in motion, the new turbine uses carbon dioxide.
Doug Hofer, lead engineer on the project, in Albany, New York, said “This compact machine will allow us to do amazing things. 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.” According to MIT Tech Review, this particular turbine works with the help of 'supercritical carbon dioxide', which is retained under high pressure at temperatures of 700˚C.
Under these circumstances, the carbon dioxide goes in a physical state between a gas and a liquid, allowing the turbine to harness its energy for super-efficient power generation - with the turbines shifting 50 per cent of the heat into electricity.
This project could help energy companies take waste gas and reuse it for efficient and cleaner energy production.
This technology is still in its initial phase, but engineers are confident to put the turbine through its paces later this year. Industrial scale testing will also make commercial pricing clearer.
A 3D-printed model of this turbine has already been made to exhibit the principle this machine uses, but the absolute version of the current model would be projected to weigh just 150 lbs (68 kg). Doug Hofer explained:
“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 US Department of Energy are helping us get there”