GE Global Research is testing a desk-size turbine that could power a small town of about 10,000 homes.

Credit: GE Global Research / DW.com

Credit: GE Global Research / DW.com

As technology advances, devices of all kind tend to get smaller. The desk-size turbine invented by GE Global Research is no exception.

According to MIT Technology Review, the turbine is capable of powering a small town of about 10,000 homes. How is this possible? The prototype is driven by “supercritical carbon dioxide,” which is in a state that at a very high pressure and up to 700 °C exists as neither a liquid nor a gas. After the carbon dioxide passes through the turbine, it’s cooled and then re-pressurized before returning for another pass.

The unit’s makers believe that the turbine could be useful in grid storage. That’s because the turbine is compact in size and can turn on and off rapidly. In fact, the invention is projected to be over 5 percent more efficient than steam turbines in the process of converting heat into electricity. Even more promising, the GE prototype is 10 megawatts, but the company would like to scale it up to 33 megawatts.

Said Doug Hofer, the GE engineer in charge of the project:

“The key thing will come down to economics.” 

While there’s work ahead, he says, “at this point we think our economic story is favorable compared to batteries.”

This article was written by: Amanda Froelich and first appeared on True Activist