Originally published March 25, 2016
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Terrestrial Energy Committee awarded best paper to researchers in UTEP’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. The recognition took place at the recent 2016 Science and Technology Forum and Exposition (SciTech) – one of the biggest conferences in the world for aviation, space, propulsion and energy, and defense.
The paper, titled “Component and System Modeling of a Direct Power Extraction System,” is a product of federal funding provided by the U.S. Department of Energy. It presents a system that utilizes magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) to generate electric power by directly converting chemical energy to electricity. The concept utilizes very high temperature gases, called thermal plasma, passed through a magnetic field to produce electric current.
Most existing systems today convert chemical energy to mechanical energy and then to electricity. Since there is one less step in the conversion and temperatures are very high, the process is accomplished more efficiently, which saves fuel and money.
This MHD system utilizes pure oxygen and methane combustion, resulting in emissions of water vapor and carbon dioxide. Since steam can be condensed and carbon dioxide sequestered, this technology is potentially an efficient near zero pollutant emission power generation technology.