DOE finances 10 university projects on gas turbine technology

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The US Department of Energy (DOE) is providing $4,998,319 in funding for ten university research projects on making gas turbines more durable and fuel-flexible, covering the lion's share of the total project costs of $6,314,361.

The funds are granted as part of the Office of Fossil Energy's University Turbine Systems Research (UTSR) Program. DOE is the main financer of the projects, while the remaining costs will be provided by the universities.

Support for the 10 projects is split equally between those that focus on turbine performance and those that look into robustness. The former concentrate on enhancing the ability to burn high-hydrogen content (HHC) natural gas, such as is found in US shale gas plays, while the latter investigates how to make turbines more durable in the face of increased turbine inlet temperatures and rising operating pressures.

Reducing emissions through recirculation


A Purdue University study will focus on reducing emissions of HHC fuels by predicting the impact of exhaust gas recirculation on nitrous oxide (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions, combustion kinetics, radiation heat transfer, turbulent combustion and combustion instabilities. New operational demands such as those mentioned in the study are required by peaking loads and requirement for renewables back up.

A study of the University of South Carolina, meanwhile, will serve as a basis for creating guidelines for emission limits of gas turbines operating on HHC fuel.

Flashback prevention, by modelling and predicting jet flame flashback propensity as a function of pressure, temperature, fuel composition, free-stream velocity, turbulence level, and fuel-air mixing profiles will be the aim of the University of California's Irvine study.

Texas A&M University College Station will study the model laminar flame speed and ignition behavior of contaminated, HHC fuels, while researchers at the University of Texas in Austin will monitor the behavior of high-pressure turbulent flames and use data to model gas turbine operating conditions.

Improving the durability of hot gas paths

To improve hot gas path performance, a University of North Dakota project will seek to demonstrate the cooling effectiveness and efficiency of new tools and technologies for handling high-heat loads.

A second Purdue University project will develop a mechanism-based model to prevent creep-fatigue crack growth in nickel-based gas turbine alloys. The software could be used by gas turbine designers to greatly improve their capability to design turbines "without excessive and costly over-design or unsafe under-design".

Georgia Institute of Technology, meanwhile, will focus on industrial gas turbine durability with long-term creep-fatigue interaction studies on two single-crystal Ni-base superalloys to develop a microstructure-sensitive crystal viscoplasticity (CVP) model.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is to develop cooling schemes and improve combustor durability. Specifically, it will focus on the interaction between the hot swirling gases and the liner wall within a gas turbine combustor.

A second University of California, Irvine project will study damage caused by coal-derived syngas and HHC-based combustion in view of developing coatings that retain optimal sealing characteristics and that are more resistant.