By Anthony Capkun
August 1, 2013 – Toshiba Corp. says it has successfully tested a first-of-its-kind combustor to be used in a thermal power generation system that produces low-cost electricity and little-to-no air emissions.
Step-by-step testing of the new combustor was initiated at a facility in California in January 2013 to confirm and demonstrate its operation within the new generation system’s required environment: “never-before demonstrated high operating pressure and temperature, plus a unique combustion mixture of oxygen, natural gas and a high concentration of CO2”.
In July, says Toshiba, the test program broke new scientific ground by confirming stable operation at the system’s target pressure of 300 atmospheres, confirming Toshiba’s design. (The combustor was engineered and manufactured in cooperation with Parametric Solutions Inc., a U.S.-based gas turbine components engineering firm.)
The new thermal power plant uses a supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) working fluid to produce low-cost electricity while cutting emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), CO2 and other pollutants. CO2 is separated and collected at high-pressure without requiring additional carbon capture equipment or processes, enabling full carbon capture without increasing the cost of electricity, boasts Toshiba. The captured CO2 can be subsequently sequestered or used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), a process for increasing the production of mature oil fields. The result is affordable power generation without atmospheric emission of harmful greenhouse and other polluting gases.
The development of its key equipment—a new combustor and its related turbine—was achieved by applying its high-temperature, high-pressure combustion and cooling technologies to the design, development and manufacture of a supercritical CO2 combustor and turbine for the power system.
Toshiba is developing the system with three U.S. companies: NET Power LLC, the lead developer of the new power system; Chicago Bridge & Iron Co., a global engineering and construction provider; and Exelon Corp. The four companies intend to demonstrate this emission-free system with a 25MW natural gas pilot plant in 2015, and a 250MW full-scale natural gas commercial plant by 2017.