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Research on water injection in gas turbines and how hydrogen plays a role
Sanjay Hingorani, Chief Engineer and Director, Customer Technical Support at Mitsubishi Power Aero, presented on aeroderivative gas turbine upgrades at PowerGen 2023. Mitsubishi Power Aero recently developed upgrades for its existing fleet of FT8 and FT4000 gas turbines to increase power output, improve efficiency, and enhance reliability. In this session, the company detailed several areas where aeroderivative on-demand power technology is addressing improvements through these product upgrades. Topics covered in the presentation included FT8 wet compression, FT8 clutch demonstration, FT4000 performance improvement, digital data solutions and remote monitoring, and the capability of these aeroderivative units to blend hydrogen and natural gas.
He started with what is being done with existing engines to improve reliability and performance. There has been a lot of new technology entering the industry. This has led to an increased market for aero turbines. The turbines are ideal for traditional peaking applications, reverse peaking, and emergency/fast-track power solutions. Mitsubishi’s equipment can run under distributed power and independent operation modes. The company’s MOBILEPAC gas turbine package is a mobile-power unit that runs off an aeroderivative gas turbine and provides quick power when grid stability falls through. Other interesting applications for these units are in fracking, e-fracking, and distributed power at cryptomining operation centers.
Existing engines can feature a wet-compression (water injection) technology, i.e., an air spray nozzle that causes changes in matter state from water to vapor when run through the compressor section of the engine. This causes the exit temperature in the compressor unit to be reduced. This means two things. First, there’s less work dedicated to the compressor, which means more is available overall. Second, the throttle can be pushed higher, enabling more flow and increased power output, he said. This water injection method led to a 12% power increase on FT8 gas turbines.
Finally, he addressed the elephant in the room. Yes, hydrogen is going to be the “next big thing” for gas turbine fuel options. At the moment, there are still plenty of unanswered questions floating around. It’s safe to say development of the technology to use hydrogen at scale is still in its early stages, said Hingorani. Mitsubishi is focusing on identifying technology changes and preparing for future implementation. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Mitsubishi Power Aero have contracted with Raytheon Technologies Research Center to develop and test hydrogen using a FT4000 single-nozzle rig. At the time of the presentation, the test rig was confirmed running.