Supercritical CO2 May Be Answer to Achieving Renewable Energy Targets

The national science agency for Australia, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) has entered into a collaboration with GTI, a U.S.-based firm that deploys various technology solutions to tackle environmental and energy challenges. The two bodies will be working together to create a carbon dioxide power plant that may help mining entities reach bigger targets in terms of renewable energy.

The organizations together released a press release that explained how the supercritical carbon dioxide power plants recirculated C02 at high temperature to generate electricity. This was in comparison with steam, which is widely used by most firms. Additionally, these supercritical plants can work using other heat sources and aren’t restricted to just one. Supercritical carbon dioxide is C02 in its fluid state, held above or at its critical pressure and temperature.

David Harris, the research director of energy technologies at CSIRO, said in the media statement that another benefit would be that the supercritical carbon dioxide was a working fluid of a higher density. This translated into more efficient and smaller power plants that do not rely on water to generate steam in order to function. Implementing the use of supercritical carbon dioxide on a wide scale could revolutionize how power was generated in Australia.

Additionally, supercritical carbon dioxide turbines provide a power cycle that’s not only high efficiency but also independent because it does not depend on steam. This makes the turbines an excellent solution for the generation of electricity in distant or secluded mining operations. This is mainly because it produces renewable energy that can be used to power various operations for extended lengths of time.

The main function of the Australian science agency in the project will be to better the comprehension of how low- or zero-emission technology solutions can be enabled by supercritical carbon dioxide power plants, particularly in places where firms rely on diesel as a power generator. Furthermore, the organization plans to study more about how concentrated solar thermal (CST) technologies can be utilized in supplying these power plants with renewable energy.

Apart from power generation, supercritical carbon dioxide can also be used to decaffeinate coffee by acting as a solvent to drain the caffeine from the coffee beans, which leaves behind the proteins and carbohydrate that give coffee its smell and flavor.

The process is also used as an environmentally friendly solvent in dry cleaning as it dissolves dirt in liquid form (recycled). This translates to no contribution to global warming.

Many mining companies are producers of minerals that are central to many industries. For example, Colorado-based Energy Fuels Inc. (TSX: EFR) (NYSE American: UUUU) is involved in mining vanadium and uranium, and the company has also started producing rare earth elements.

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