Full steam ahead
The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed equipment that allows steam to be brought to a supercritical state under research conditions.This success promises to be invaluable in designing more efficient power plants, almost all of which use steam to produce energy.
Reaching 700°C under very high pressure, steam that has been converted to a supercritical fluid in power plants, enables energy to be produced with less fuel and lower carbon dioxide emissions.
However, there are issues of corrosion that have not been sufficiently researched, especially as power stations have to be designed for long-term use.
Further research in the field will enable designers to avoid poor materials choices in developing steam technology, which should lead to higher operational reliability with less maintenance.
VTT Technical Research Centre