Probably the most important graph in the world


Active member
Mar 3, 2010
These people seem to have never heard of EROEI, and so their pronouncments are invalid if they do not mention and go into the ramifications of this most important concept.

Pat Gill

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2011
Well its been well over a year so its probably time to dust off this old warhorse again.

So what has happened in the meantime, the price of oil and gas is still increasing at a steady pace, Japan is now operating for the first time in 40 years without nuclear energy and the smart grid is beginning to make its debut onto the scene.

But two very curious things are also happening, for over 300 years the steam technology has been the workhorse of the world, at first with the reciprocating steam engines of Newcommen and Watt, later the steam turbine was invented towards the end of the 19th century by Charles Parsons, the steam turbine is still in use today in every thermal generating plant in the world, irrespective of the fuel used to produce heat, coal, gas or nuclear, it is the steam turbine which powers the electrical generator.

But now it seems that the days of the steam turbine might entering their twilight years, to be replaced by believe it or not, the CO[SUP]2[/SUP] turbine.

Carbon Dioxide is good for a lot of things like adding fizz to your soft drinking in its gaseous form and keeping food cold in its solid form as “dry ice.”
What many people do not know is that the gas is also useful in its lesser known liquid form. You won’t see it in nature since it takes five atmospheres of pressure at slightly higher than room temperature, 31C, to take it to a super state.

Then it can be used to push turbine blades and thus generators connected to them to make power.

The objective of using supercritical CO2 (S-CO2) in a Brayton-Cycle turbine is to make it much more efficient in the transfer of heat. Wright points out that a steam turbine is about 33% efficient, but that an S-CO2 turbine could be as high as 48% efficient, a significant increase.

A closed loop supercritical CO2 system has the density of a liquid, but many of the properties of a gas. A turbine running on it, “is basically a jet engine running on a hot liquid,” says Wright.

Barber-Nichols S-CO2 turbine wheel
Photo: Sandia National Laboratory

Since the CO2 is pre-heated, less energy is needed to then heat it up to the turbine inlet temperature. By recovering some of the energy usually lost as waste heat, the recuperator can make a supercritical gas turbine significantly more efficient.

The recuperators on the S-CO2 systems work much the same way as a gas fired turbine except they are heating a noncombustible gas instead of air to be mixed with fuel.

Q: You indicated that a first-of-a-kind system producing a 10 MW system could be $20-30 million. Do you have a cost estimate for an “Nth of a kind at 50 MW?”

A: Our target is a cost of $1 a watt. If we can find the right industrial partners, we could produce the first units for non-nuclear power applications in three-to-five years.

Separately, Wright said that to use the turbines with small modular reactors (SMRs), they would have to be evaluated as safety-related equipment by the NRC or any nuclear safety agency elsewhere.

He wants to see a revenue stream from non-nuclear applications before spending money on the cost of a regulatory process that covers equipment for nuclear power stations.
And now CO[SUP]2[/SUP] is also being used to help oil companies recover more oil from each well, you see we only ever manage to get about 60% of the oil from each oilfield to actually flow upwards into our waiting hands, the rest gets left behind as its just too difficult to get it out, even that 60% figure is high compared to the historical figure of as low as 40%. This is what the phrase recoverable resource as opposed to an oil reserve refers to, when an oil company states that they have found a reservoir containing X barrels oil or Y m[SUP]3[/SUP] of gas, that does not mean that this amount of jungle juice will emerge from the reservoir.

The oilfields of Saudi Arabia have been home to this epic battle for some years now, although this is a touchy subject, thousands of tons of sea water are currently pumped into oil fields of the country every day in an effort to raise the reservoir pressure and force more oil to the surface, but now it seems that our old friend CO[SUP]2[/SUP] is far better at this job, getting into the places that water cannot reach and saving a lot of money by not having to remove the small but significant amount of water which gets mixed with oil underground, the result is that soon, thousands of tons of CO[SUP]2[/SUP] will be pumped into the oil fields instead of the sea water thereby returning the greenhouse gas to where it was sitting for aeons before we disturbed with.

But there is a small problem, it costs a lot of money to take the CO[SUP]2[/SUP] out of the atmosphere in order for it to chase more oil out of the ground, which is why all across the world, the oil companies are quietly pushing for a global carbon tax.

Have a little fun playing with a smart grid, coming to a street near you within the next few years and servicing the needs of all technologies.

E-Energy Animation the button to start the tour is just above the control panel towards the right.
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