Hybrid power plant design could cut emissions by 50%

Hybrid power plant design could cut emissions by 50%
A hybrid fuel and solar power system developed by researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) could provide a greener and more cost effective way of integrating solar technology in today's power plants.

The new technology, a steam-injection gas turbine, was developed by Professor Avi Kribus of TAU's School of Mechanical Engineering. It combines the use of conventional fuel with the lower pressures and temperatures of steam produced by solar power.

The researchers believe it could allow plants to be hybrid by enabling a 25–50% reduction in fuel use and associated emissions

As Prof Kribus explains, the gas turbine uses a mixture of hot air and steam: "We still need to burn fuel to heat the air, but we add steam from low temperature solar energy, approximately 200°C.

"This hybrid cycle is highly efficient in producing energy and the lower pressure and heat requirements allow the solar part of the technology to use more cost-effective materials, such as common metals and low-cost solar collectors."

When performing thermodynamic analysis of this hybrid cycle, the researchers found that it had an overall conversion efficiency from heat to electricity in the range of 40-55%.

They believe it could therefore enable a hybrid plant that has a comparable cost to a fuel-based one, making the option of replacing a large fraction of fuel with solar energy competitive and viable.

Laura Hopperton

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