- U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) recognizes potential of GE’s g3 insulating and switching gas as an alternative to sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) to help significantly cut global greenhouse gas emissions
- GE’s g3 gas technology will help U.S. utilities achieve President Biden’s goal of net zero economy-wide emissions by 2050
- The development of GE’s g3 245 kV circuit-breaker will play a crucial role in reducing dependence of SF6 technology on the U.S. electrical grid
- The dead tank circuit-breaker will be developed and manufactured at GE’s site in Charleroi, PA, USA
Boston, MA, USA and Paris, FRANCE – October 27, 2021 – GE (NYSE-GE) announced today it has been awarded a total of US $3.7 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) for two related projects to help accelerate the decarbonization of the U.S. electrical grid.
The first award in the amount of $2.3 million to GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions business relates to the development of a sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)-free 245 kilovolt (kV) dead tank circuit-breaker1. The new circuit-breaker will use GE’s game-changing g3 (pronounced “g”- cubed) gas insulating and switching technology, which has a global warming potential that is 99% less compared with SF62, to deliver the same high performance as a traditional SF6 circuit-breaker. As g3 products have the same dimensions as SF6 equipment, there is no increase in emissions during the manufacturing process from additional material.
The second award to GE Research Center in the amount $1.4 million is part of a $2.7 million project led by the University of Connecticut that will focus on the life cycle management of g3 products, mainly gas leakages and byproduct detection, capture and monitoring tools.
“SF6 is a significantly more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and can remain in the atmosphere for up to 3,200 years. ARPA-E anticipates that any technology developed to replace SF6 could have a significant and widespread global impact as countries look to reduce, regulate, or eliminate SF6 emissions from their electrical grids,” said Dr. Isik Kizilyalli, ARPA-E Associate Director for Technology.
“We are honored that ARPA-E recognizes the importance GE’s g3 gas technology. This funding will help demonstrate the applicability of g3 gas for the commonly used 245 kV voltage level used by transmission operators in the U.S.,” said Danielle Merfeld, Chief Technology Officer at GE Renewable Energy. “One of the major advantages of GE’s g3 gas is that this fluoronitrile-based solution is scalable to higher voltage levels. As part of this project, the 245 kV g3 circuit breaker will be scaled to 550 kV, which helps accelerate market acceptance of SF6-free technology and support the U.S.’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050.”
Every year, an average of 450 tons of SF6 gas is installed on the U.S. grid by new manufactured electrical equipment, according to the greenhouse gas inventory data published by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This represents an estimated 11.3 million tons of CO2-equivalent installed in the country. By replacing the SF6 gas with GE’s g3 technology, this would represent a significant reduction in CO2-equivalent, comparable to about 2.5 million passenger vehicles on the road during a one-year period.
The g3 245 kV dead tank circuit-breaker leverages the expertise acquired in g3 by GE’s technology research center in Villeurbanne, France, and the know-how of its manufacturing site in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, where the new g3 circuit-breaker will be developed and built.
For more information about GE’s high-voltage g3 substation equipment and product roadmap, visit our website.
Notes to the Editor:
- Dead tank circuit-breaker: A circuit-breaker is a protective device used on the high voltage electrical network in case of a problem on the grid to cut or redirect the power through another path to avoid blackouts. High-voltage 245 kV circuit-breakers are found at electrical substations on transmission lines carrying the power to or within regional areas. A dead tank circuit-breaker is a circuit-breaker with interrupters in an earthed metal tank.
- SF6: Due to its strong insulating and arc-quenching properties, SF6 has been, and continues to be widely used in primary substation equipment with the transmission industry accounting for approximately 80% of the world’s usage. Identified as a potent greenhouse gas by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, SF6 is currently estimated to contribute 25,200 times more emissions than CO2 and can remain in the atmosphere for up to 3,200 years (according to IPCC’s 6th assessment report published on August 7th, 2021).
About GE’s Grid Solutions
Grid Solutions, a GE Renewable Energy business, serves customers globally with over 13,000 employees. Grid Solutions provides power utilities and industries worldwide with equipment, systems and services to bring power reliably and efficiently from the point of generation to end power consumers. Grid Solutions is focused on addressing the challenges of the energy transition by enabling the safe and reliable connection of renewable and distributed energy resources to the grid. We electrify the world with advanced grid technologies and accelerate the energy transition. For more about GE’s Grid Solutions, visit https://www.gegridsolutions.com.
About GE’s g3 gas
GE’s alternative to SF6 is g3 insulating and switching gas representing the culmination of a decade of research and development by its teams in France, Germany and Switzerland in collaboration with 3M Company. The g3 gas mixture is based on carbon dioxide, oxygen, and 3M™ Novec™ 4710 Dielectric Fluid from the 3M fluoronitrile family. Fluoronitrile was identified by R&D experts as the most suitable additive to CO2 and O2 to reach the targeted environmental benefit of an alternative to SF6, without compromising the equipment’s technical performance and footprint. As a result, the global warming potential (GWP) of GE’s g3 gas is 99% lower as compared to SF6.
Today, 25 leading electrical utilities have already adopted GE’s g3 products for their high voltage networks, avoiding the addition of more than a million tons of CO2 equivalent to the grid. That’s the equivalent of removing about 476,000 petrol cars from the road for one year.
GE’s g3 gas-insulated products are currently available for live-tank circuit-breakers and gas-insulated substations (GIS) up to 145 kV, as well as gas-insulated lines (GIL) up to 420 kV. More about g3 – GE’s alternative to SF6. More about g3 development, GE’s fluoronitrile based gas mixture: In search of an SF6 replacement | Think Grid (think-grid.org)
For media inquiries, please contact:
Allison J. Cohen
GE Renewable Energy, Grid Solutions business
External Communications Manager
GE Research Center
Executive, Media Relations and Chief Technology Storyteller