Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hybrid power plants can help industry go green: Affordable solar option for power plants

Date:
November 4, 2011
Source:
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Summary:
Researchers have developed a technology that combines the conventional fuel used in today's power plants with the lower pressures and temperatures of steam produced by solar power. His new "hybrid" power plant is a potentially cost-effective and realistic way to integrate solar technology into existing power plants.

Hybrid cars, powered by a mixture of gas and electricity, have become a practical way to "go green" on the roads. Now researchers at Tel Aviv University are applying the term "hybrid" to power plants as well.

Most power plants, explains Prof. Avi Kribus of TAU's School of Mechanical Engineering and its innovative new Renewable Energy Center, create power using fuel. And solar thermal power plants -- which use high temperatures and pressure generated by sunlight to produce turbine movement -- are currently the industry's environmentally-friendly alternative. But it's an expensive option, especially when it comes to equipment made from expensive metals and the solar high-accuracy concentrator technology used to harvest solar energy.

Now, a new technology Prof. Kribus has developed combines the use of conventional fuel with the lower pressures and temperatures of steam produced by solar power, allowing plants to be hybrid, replacing 25 to 50 percent of their fuel use with green energy. His method, which will be reported in a future issue of the Solar Energy Journal, presents a potentially cost-effective and realistic way to integrate solar technology into today's power plants.

Taking down the temperature for savings

In a solar thermal power plant, sunlight is harvested to create hot high-pressure steam, approximately 400 to 500 degrees centigrade. This solar-produced steam is then used to rotate the turbines that generate electricity.

Though the environmental benefits over traditional power plants are undeniable, Prof. Kribus cautions that it is somewhat unrealistic economically for the current industry. "It's complex solar technology," he explains. The materials alone, which include pipes made from expensive metals designed to handle high pressures and temperatures, as well as fields of large mirrors needed to harvest and concentrate enough light, make the venture too costly to be widely implemented.

Instead, with his graduate student Maya Livshits, Prof. Kribus is developing an alternative technology, called a steam-injection gas turbine. "We combine a gas turbine, which works on hot air and not steam, and inject the solar-produced steam into the process," he explains. "We still need to burn fuel to heat the air, but we add steam from low-temperature solar energy, approximately 200 degrees centigrade." This hybrid cycle is not only highly efficient in terms of energy production, but the lowered pressure and heat requirements allow the solar part of the technology to use more cost-effective materials, such as common metals and low-cost solar collectors.

A bridge to green energy

The hybrid fuel and solar power system may not be entirely green, says Prof. Kribus, but it does offer a more realistic option for the short and medium term. Electricity from solar thermal power plants currently costs twice as much as electricity from traditional power plants, he notes. If this doesn't change, the technology may never be widely adopted. The researchers hope that a hybrid plant will have a comparable cost to a fuel-based power plant, making the option of replacing a large fraction of fuel with solar energy competitive and viable.

The researchers are starting a collaboration with a university in India to develop this method in more detail, and are looking for corporate partnerships that are willing to put hybrid technology into use. It's a stepping stone that will help introduce solar energy into the industry in an accessible and affordable way, Prof. Kribus says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Hybrid power plants can help industry go green: Affordable solar option for power plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111103120448.htm>.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. (2011, November 4). Hybrid power plants can help industry go green: Affordable solar option for power plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111103120448.htm
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Hybrid power plants can help industry go green: Affordable solar option for power plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111103120448.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins