A groundbreaking power-generating system delivers electricity to an Air Force Base electrical grid

“We’ve been striving to get here for a number of years, and to be able to demonstrate that we can connect our system through a commercial device to the grid is the first bridge to more efficient electricity generation,” said Rodney Keith, manager for the advanced concepts group working on the technology.

“Maybe it’s just a pontoon bridge, but it’s definitely a bridge. It may not sound super significant, but it was quite a path to get here. Now that we can get across the river, we can get a lot more going.”

On April 12, the Sandia engineering team managed to successfully heat up their supercritical CO2 system to 600 degrees Fahrenheit and use it to provide power to the grid. They generated 10 kilowatts of power which might not seem like much but is an important first step.

A groundbreaking power-generating system delivers electricity to an Air Force Base electrical grid

The Sandia team was inspired by how elevators use power.

“We successfully started our turbine-alternator-compressor in a simple supercritical CO2 Brayton cycle three times and had three controlled shutdowns, and we injected power into the Sandia-Kirtland grid steadily for 50 minutes,” said Darryn Fleming, the lead researcher on the project.

“The most important thing about this test is that we got Sandia to agree to take the power. It took us a long time to get the data needed to let us connect to the grid. Any person who controls an electrical grid is very cautious about what you sync to their grid because you could disrupt the grid. You can operate these systems all day long and dump the power into load banks, but putting even a little power on the grid is an important step.”

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