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August 31st, 2009
Geothermal funding brightens long-term outlook
PNNL's conversion system will take advantage of the rapid expansion and contraction capabilities of a new liquid developed by PNNL researchers called biphasic fluid. When exposed to heat brought to the surface from water circulating in moderately hot, underground rock, the thermal-cycling of the biphasic fluid will power a turbine to generate electricity.
To aid in efficiency, scientists have added nanostructured metal-organic heat carriers, or MOHCs, which boost the power generation capacity to near that of a conventional steam cycle. McGrail cited PNNL's nanotechnology and molecular engineering expertise as an important factor in the development, noting that the advancement was an outgrowth of research already underway at the lab.
"Some novel research on nanomaterials used to capture carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels actually led us to this discovery," said McGrail. "Scientific breakthroughs can come from some very unintuitive connections."
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