Power Plant Efficiency
Compared to conventional steam-based power plants, power plants using sCO2 technology will see substantially higher efficiencies to convert heat into power. This translates into lower emissions.
Supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power cycles are Brayton cycles that utilize supercritical CO2 as working fluid to convert heat into power. They offer the potential for higher system efficiencies compared to other energy conversion technologies such as steam Rankine cycles which are used in conventional power plants, especially when operating at elevated temperatures. It is the unique properties of supercritical CO2 that offer intrinsic benefits over steam as a working fluid to absorb thermal energy, to be compressed, and to impart momentum to a turbine. This higher efficiency results in lower cost and lower emissions for the same amount of power produced.
sCO2 power cycles are being considered for a wide range of applications including fossil-fired systems, waste heat recovery, concentrated solar power, and nuclear. It is expected that the STEP Demo project will achieve a 50% cycle efficiency.