Thermally Produced Electricity
In reality, electricity is almost always generated thermally, as coal-fired, nuclear or gas-fired plants
boil water to produce the steam which spins turbines. The downside, of course, is their need for
ever-more costly and increasingly problematic fuels. In contrast, copious quantities of heat can
be gathered from the sun with no detrimental environmental or economic impacts.

Sandia National Labs

Sandia National Laboratories is developing a test platform to study the performance of an advanced Brayton Cycle generating system driven by supercritical carbon dioxide. Designed for use in solar, nuclear and fossil fuel heated plants, the goal is to increase power plant thermal-to-electric conversion efficiency up to 50%.

Echogen Power Systems, Inc.

Echogen sells waste heat recovery systems which provide significant gains in efficiency while reducing space requirements. This system operates in the 400° to 1,000°+ F range, converting significant amounts of heat to electricity and potentially achieving efficiencies above 30%, depending upon the heat source.

Image courtesy of Deluge Inc.

Deluge, Inc. manufactures a supercritical carbon dioxide, 250 kW generator which is driven by less than 4 million BTUs/hour, converting heat to mechanical power through hydraulic expansion. In many applications this system can use water as cool as 180° F.

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