Rhode Island Patent of the Month – July 2022

Oxygen plants often use semi-closed power systems in an effort to effectively capture carbon dioxide (CO2). With the existing semi-closed cycle (SCC) power systems, oxygen plants are subject to high operational costs. The system itself often consumes a significant amount of the net power produced. Even further, back pressure systems lead to high concentrations of water vapor in the exhaust systems which complicate their maintenance, operation, and cleanup. The captured CO2 must also then be dehydrated before being useful. Enhanced Energy Group, LLC set out to address these limitations, creating an SCC power system that allows for both efficient capture of CO2 and efficient use of the net energy. After all, what’s the point of clean energy systems if the majority of the energy is cycled directly back into the system itself?

Their SCC uses a special type of membrane oxygen generation systems. These membranes are selectively permeable, allowing fast gases like oxygen, CO2 and water to pass through while blocking others, such as nitrogen or argon. After passing through, one side of the membrane has a highly pure nitrogen fluid while the other side has substantially oxygen. 

The generated oxygen is at a lower temperature and non-atmospheric pressure. The temperature and pressure are perfect for use in the engine without needing any additional preparation. A traditional SSC would need an engine turbo charger and aftercooler to get the oxygen to the right temperature and pressure. 

The high pressure, dry nitrogen on the other side of the membrane is heated by a counterflow exchanger and expanded by a turbo charger. This then turbo charges the membrane, creating a pressure drop and improving performance.

With their design, the company has successfully created a more efficient SCC process which consumes less power overall. This system also costs less to operate, reducing the capital cost of the oxygen generation systems. These goals were achieved in part by reducing the compression power associated with membrane oxygen plants and by reducing the size, complexity, and parasitic power associated with CO2 gas cleanup in the cycle. 

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