WHAT IS SUPERCRITICAL CO2?
Supercritical CO2 is basically carbon dioxide in its liquid state. When both the temperature and pressure are equal at 31-degrees Celsius and 73 ATM, then carbon dioxide goes into the liquid state. In the supercritical state, carbon dioxide has both gas and liquid qualities. We can say that it has a dual character. It provides the ideal conditions for extracting compounds with a high degree in a short period of time.
Supercritical carbon dioxide is formed by heating or boiling carbon dioxide under a certain pressure to a point when the liquid, solid, and gas state separate and a critical phase arrives which is called supercritical carbon dioxide (ScCO2). It is generally for dry cleaning, to remove oil, fat, and wax, and to extract flavor from compounds.
HOW IT CAN BE USED TO IMPROVE SOLAR POWER SYSTEM
Supercritical CO2 is the most effective way to improve the efficiency of a solar power system. The development cost of this technology is however on the higher side but still, a lot of developers are ready to pay the cost because it has astronomical upsides and slim to none disadvantages.
Supercritical CO2 is in the liquid state. The hotter the liquid gets, the more electricity can be produced. The panels which are currently used for solar power cannot withstand the heat which the supercritical CO2 generates. Supercritical CO2 is capable of heating the panels up to 550-degrees Celsius. So there is a dire need to make panels from materials that can withstand such high temperatures. Some solar power panels are available in the market which can somehow take heat up to 550-degreeCelsius. But if heat surpasses that limit, the integrity of that panel is compromised and ultimately it becomes useless.
Researches have shown that a combination of tungsten, ceramic and refractory metal can, however, withstand a temperature of 700-degreeCelsius and above. A panel made up of this combination and supercritical CO2 can increase the electricity production from solar power panel by a massive 20% – 25%.
There is plenty of time before the prototypes are tested and the technology becomes available for mass use. If the technology is successfully introduced, the electricity bill will be reduced by at least 25% – 30%. It would be considered as a revolutionary invention. This technology has the potential to alter the way we use traditionally use solar power systems.
BENEFITS OF SUPERCRITICAL CO2 FOR SOLAR POWER SYSTEM
The main benefit of this technology is the increased electricity production from almost the same form factor. Also, this new panel combined with supercritical CO2 is fairly cheap than the system that we currently use.
This technology could reduce the use of fossil fuels to make energy. Basically, emission of greenhouse gases like methane, CFC’s, and carbon dioxide etc. will be curbed with the introduction of this technology. Nuclear power plants can be upgraded using solar power system with supercritical CO2 to construct advanced rocket nozzles as well. This technology has huge advantages and implications if used properly.