Major Power Industry First Demonstrated by STEP Demo Project

January 19, 2024
Des Plaines, IL

An industry “first” was achieved with the initial hot-fire closed loop operation of the 10-megawatt (MWe) Supercritical Transformational Electric Power (STEP) Demo test facility in San Antonio, Texas, which fired the 93 MW heater and spun the turbine up to 18,000 rpm for the first time.

The STEP Demo project, led by GTI Energy in collaboration with Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), GE Vernova, the U.S. Department of Energy/National Energy Technology Laboratory (U.S. DOE/NETL), and several industry partners, was designed to demonstrate and validate the supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) Brayton power cycle. This is a significant milestone in advancing sCO2 technology because it is the first time this type of plant has been operated at this scale anywhere in the world.

The supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) Brayton power cycle can revolutionize power generation, maximizing efficiency and ensuring cleaner, flexible, and reliable power. It can operate using a wide range of low- and zero-emission heat sources—including turbine exhaust, concentrated solar, biomass firing, geothermal, and nuclear sources—and can support grid stability and resiliency with quick response to changes in power demand, driving industrial decarbonization.

System commissioning tests for the initial 5 MWe Simple Cycle configuration will continue to progress towards full power over the next couple of months by increasing operating temperatures and ramping up turbine speed to 27,000 rpm.

“I am excited that our team is now starting to demonstrate supercritical CO2 technology that can have a positive impact on the planet by making clean energy more affordable and efficient, and decarbonizing more challenging industrial applications through waste heat recovery,” said Bill Follett, STEP Demo Program Director at GTI Energy.

Organizations interested in learning more about how sCO2 technology can improve high-efficiency power generation are welcome to join the STEP Demo pilot project.


About STEP Demo
The STEP Demo pilot facility will demonstrate a fully integrated electricity-generating power plant using transformational sCO2-based power cycle technology that can offer dramatically improved size, performance, economics, and operational flexibility with less environmental impact. OEMs, engineering companies, and power plant owners/operators from around the globe are invited to join this open project to gain a better understanding of how sCO2 technology can improve high-efficiency power generation.

About National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL)
NETL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s only Government-Owned, Government-Operated Laboratory. NETL focuses on the discovery, development, and deployment of technology solutions to enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations. These advanced technologies enable fossil fuels to produce the clean, reliable, and affordable energy needed to support increased domestic manufacturing, improve infrastructure, enhance global competitiveness, revitalize the workforce, and free the U.S. from dependence on foreign oil.

About GTI Energy
GTI Energy is a leading technology development organization. Our trusted team works to scale impactful solutions that shape energy transitions by leveraging gases, liquids, infrastructure, and efficiency. We embrace systems thinking, innovation, and collaboration to develop, scale, and deploy the technologies needed for low-carbon, low-cost energy systems. GTI Energy leads the STEP Demo project as the prime contractor with the U.S. Department of Energy/National Energy Technology Laboratory.

About Southwest Research Institute
Southwest Research Institute is a premier independent, nonprofit research and development organization using multidisciplinary services to provide solutions to some of the world’s most challenging scientific and engineering problems. Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, SwRI occupies more than 1,500 acres, providing over 2.3 million square feet of laboratories, test facilities, workshops, and offices for approximately 3,000 employees who perform contract work for government and industry clients.

About GE Vernova
GE Vernova is a planned purpose-built global energy company comprising of Power, Wind, and Electrification segments and supported by its accelerator businesses of Advanced Research, Consulting Services, and Financial Services. Building on over 130 years of experience tackling the world’s challenges, GE Vernova is uniquely positioned to help lead the energy transition by continuing to electrify the world while simultaneously working to decarbonize it. GE Vernova helps customers power economies and deliver electricity that is vital to health, safety, security, and improved quality of life. GE Vernova is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S. with 70,000 employees across 140+ countries around the world.

Become a project partner

This open project is welcoming new partners from around the world. OEMs, engineering companies, and power plant owner/operators are invited to join to gain a better understanding of how sCO2 technology can improve high-efficiency power generation.


For more information, contact Markus Lesemann directly.