New Siemens combustion test center to facilitate alternative fuels

Siemens is building a new combustion test center for gas turbines near Berlin. The test center is to commence operation in 2014 on a 36,000 square meter site recently purchased by Siemens Real Estate in Ludwigsfelde, about 15 kilometers south of Berlin. It will play an important role in the design and ongoing development of Siemens gas turbines.

The Ludwigsfelde site has access to an adequate supply of natural gas via a local pipeline and is also connected to the high-voltage power grid. What is more, natural gas and fuel oil can be substituted in the combustion trials by mixtures of alternative fuels such as hydrogen, ethane, propane and butane.

Three cells for investigation

The new test center is to have three cells for investigating combustion processes under real-life service conditions. In a gas turbine, natural gas or fuel oil is mixed with air under high pressure and combusted in up to 24 identical burners. Gas power plants can be started up very quickly and are highly versatile in on-line operation, but the conditions of the combustion processes under part and full load differ significantly. In the tests, various parameters such as output, efficiency, emissions and the stability of the flame are studied on a single burner on the test bed.

Siemens holds the world efficiency record with a proven efficiency of 60.75 percent in combined-cycle operation. In a combined cycle power plant, the hot exhaust from a gas turbine is used to raise steam that drives a steam turbine to boost the overall power output.

Till now, Siemens has relied on external test facilities in evolving its gas turbine burners. In future, the company will be able run more tests, as in-house trials will no longer be dependent on the availability of external capacities.