STEP Demo Team Pilots Innovative High-Efficiency Power Plant Next-generation power technology can lower emissions, improve air quality, and create new jobs

October 27, 2023
Des Plaines, IL


Pictured left to right: Jason Mortzheim, GE Vernova; Don Stevenson, GTI Energy; Texas State Senator José Menéndez; Robert Schrecengost, U.S. Department of Energy; Adam Hamilton and Walter Downing, SwRI.

Yesterday, GTI Energy and its partners, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and GE Vernova, marked a significant leap forward in energy technology advancement with the opening of the Supercritical Transformational Electric Power (STEP) Demo test facility in San Antonio, Texas. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and industry partners, the STEP Demo facility is a first-of-a-kind, 10-megawatt (MWe) power plant to validate the supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) Brayton power cycle.

SCO2 power cycles can revolutionize power generation, maximizing efficiency and ensuring cleaner, flexible, and reliable power. These power cycles can operate using a wide range of low- and zero-emission heat sources, and they can improve grid stability and resiliency with quicker response to changes in power demand during extreme weather events.

The STEP Demo facility will demonstrate higher efficiency than what is currently possible with conventional technology, providing the ability to generate more electricity with less fuel. The technology has the potential to increase the efficiency of a 300 MW commercial plant by up to 10%, resulting in reduced emissions equivalent to removing 14 million cars from the road.

The technology can be integrated with waste heat recovery from industrial or power sources as well as nuclear or solar thermal applications for cost-effective power generation with zero carbon emissions. Increased production and deployment of sCO2 power technology supports new jobs in manufacturing, construction, and operation sectors.

Full-scale testing at the STEP Demo facility is set to begin in early 2024. The test facility will generate valuable data to help optimize the design and performance of sCO2 power systems. This data will play a pivotal role in the development of commercial sCO2 power plants that can be deployed around the world.

“GTI Energy is proud to catalyze innovation and collaboration to enable power generation to contribute to clean, efficient, and reliable energy,” said Paula A. Gant, PhD, President and CEO, GTI Energy. “The STEP Demo pilot is demonstrating the efficiency and emissions benefits of supercritical carbon dioxide technology in transforming electric power generation.”

“STEP Demo will undoubtedly change the way we think about power generation,” said SwRI President and CEO Adam Hamilton, P.E. “It’s exciting to officially launch this pilot plant, which is home to potentially revolutionary technology developed right here at SwRI.”

“With GE Vernova providing the equipment that generates one-third of the world’s power and one-half of U.S. power, decarbonizing the power and industrial sector is at the forefront of our mind. sCO2 is an emerging technology with wide applicability across different modalities and has the potential to be a key part of the decarbonization roadmap,” said Jason Mortzheim, sCO2 Platform Leader, GE Vernova Advanced Research.

“The STEP Demo facility was built with flexibility and modularity in mind, so it can serve as a test bed for future development and validation of system components or alternate supercritical CO2 cycle configurations. It can be configured to operate with turbine inlet temperatures of 500°C or less as well as higher turbine inlet temperatures up to 715°C,” said Robert Schrecengost, Division Director at DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management.

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 Research
GE Research is GE’s innovation powerhouse where research meets reality. It is a world-class team of 1,000+ scientific, engineering and marketing minds (600+ Ph.Ds.), working at the intersection of physics and markets, physical and digital technologies, and across a broad set of industries to deliver world-changing innovations and capabilities for their customers.

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.