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This Power Plant Runs on CO2

Carbon capture costs nothing in NET Power’s new plant, which uses supercritical carbon dioxide to drive a turbine

10 min read
Photo: Michael Thad Carter/The Forbes Collection/Contour by Getty Images
CO2 Cycler: Rodney Allam (above) invented a natural-gas-burning power plant that captures its own carbon dioxide at practically no cost.
Photo: Michael Thad Carter/The Forbes Collection/Contour by Getty Images

A fire breaks out in your office’s server suite. You grab an extinguisher, aim its nozzle at the blaze, and hit it with a cloud of carbon dioxide. Out goes the fire.

Flames die when doused in CO2. And yet under just the right conditions, CO2 can also sustain combustion. That counterintuitive fact is at the heart of a new power plant being built in the Houston industrial suburb of LaPorte. The natural-gas-fired plant’s novel design, from Durham, N.C.–based NET Power, uses a fuel mix that is 95 percent carbon dioxide at the point of combustion. What’s more, it captures and sequesters carbon dioxide at virtually no additional cost. According to NET Power’s calculations, once the company scales up and rolls out the technology commercially, its plants should cost no more to construct and operate than a traditional natural-gas plant, which simply vents its exhaust into the atmosphere.

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Video Friday: Humanoid Soccer

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
Humans and human-size humanoid robots stand together on an indoor soccer field at the beginning of a game

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Computing With Chemicals Makes Faster, Leaner AI

Battery-inspired artificial synapses are gaining ground

5 min read
Array of devices on a chip

This analog electrochemical memory (ECRAM) array provides a prototype for artificial synapses in AI training.

IBM research

How far away could an artificial brain be? Perhaps a very long way off still, but a working analogue to the essential element of the brain’s networks, the synapse, appears closer at hand now.

That’s because a device that draws inspiration from batteries now appears surprisingly well suited to run artificial neural networks. Called electrochemical RAM (ECRAM), it is giving traditional transistor-based AI an unexpected run for its money—and is quickly moving toward the head of the pack in the race to develop the perfect artificial synapse. Researchers recently reported a string of advances at this week’s IEEE International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM 2022) and elsewhere, including ECRAM devices that use less energy, hold memory longer, and take up less space.

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Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Modeling and simulation in Simulink and Simscape

1 min read
Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Design and simulate a fuel cell system for electric mobility. See by example how Simulink® and Simscape™ support multidomain physical modeling and simulation of fuel cell systems including thermal, gas, and liquid systems. Learn how to select levels of modeling fidelities to meet your needs at different development stages.