GE Turbine Packs a Punch
General Electric is developing a compact turbine as part of a system designed to store and deliver energy from thermal solar power plants. Generally, these kinds of plants concentrate solar rays and use the heat to generate steam that spins a turbine. GE's technology stores some of the heat in carbon dioxide, which can work like a battery to release energy during peak demand. The design has two parts. In the first part, heat energy is collected from the sun and stored in molten salt. In the second, surplus electricity from the grid cools liquid CO2 so that it becomes dry ice. During power generation, the salt releases the heat to expand the cold CO2 into a supercritical fluid. The supercritical fluid then flows into a compact CO2 turbine. Although the turbine can fit on an office shelf, GE says it can generate as much as 100 megawatts of electricity.
Fiber Sunroof Frame for Mercedes
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class will sport a sunroof frame made from lightweight, natural fiber in place of steel. FiberFrame is the first vehicle roof frame made of natural fiber, according to BASF, which developed the part with International Automotive Components. The frame comprises 70% renewable raw material content and provides up to 50% in weight savings compared to conventional metal materials. The frame is reinforced using IAC’s EcoMat natural fiber-based semi-finished material, which was developed for the application.
Robotic Device for Sludge Removal
UK engineering firm Red Marine has developed a remotely operated submersible vehicle designed to remove sludge, residuals and debris from storage ponds at nuclear power stations. Drawing on technologies used in the oil and gas sector, the 2-meter-long robot can excavate sludge using both a backhoe and a front-mounted scoop. According to Red Marine, this reduces sludge disturbance and water separation issues compared to alternative dredging solutions. The company is currently in discussion with potential development partners, with plans to begin testing a unit in early 2017.