Will GE marry the two technologies?

In the second part of this series, the author wrote about ABB’s reheat combustor and proposed a new design for GE machines. In this article, he hints at how GE could put together the existing technology with little risk and make the amalgamation a success.

Years ago, an inventor by the name of Whitcome of NASA invented and patented the wing tip vertical tips on airplane wings to form dams and prevent the vortexes to form at the tips of the wings causing considerable drag. Today, these wing tip dams are being used to reduce drag and save fuel on most of the commercial airplanes. For the RH combustor a tip robust vortex is required.     

Such a steam cooled reheat system incorporating these ideas could then, in the CC mode, reach the target of 65 percent CC efficiency. All it would take is money and engineering knowhow because GE now has the tools to use with the acquisition of Alstom's GT business. Maybe, the RH GTs are not dead and GE will find a way to keep them. It would be a pity to lose this technology.

Redesigning the ABB reheat gas turbine

Another prominent engineer seems to agree with me. There was an interesting and informative three-part article by Dr. S. C. Gulen, formerly from GE and now Principal Engineer of Bechtel Corporation, in the July -August, 2014 Gas Turbine World magazine entitled, “General Electric – Alstom merger brings visions of the Uberturbine”. The first part gives the background of NOx, TITs, combustion and the thermodynamics of the reheat gas turbine cycle and deals with closed loop steam cooling. This first part discusses the steam cooled GE H-system and the MHI partially steam cooled system and tells how successful these two system have individually been.  It references one of my ASME 1982 Journal papers on reheat and steam cooling as being the “integrated steam/gas cycle”. Another prominent author, Dr Lee S. Langston, calls it “The Rice Cycle” because of my early study and disclosure of the system through ASME Journal papers.

The second part of the paper discusses the six GE H steam cooled systems in successful commercial operation for 10 years, one 9 in Wales, two 7s in California and three 9s in Japan.  This part traces the Brown Boveri Corporation (BBC) early development of the reheat gas turbine and the first GT24 unit installed in New Jersey. It tells about the cooling troubles encountered on the 24 and 26 units. The failure of water cooling by GE was mentioned. The third and final part discusses just how the Alstom/ABB air cooled reheat gas turbine and the GE closed loop steam cooled simple cycle turbine can be integrated to form a larger and more efficient  super system to achieve 65 % cycle efficiency.

The author calls this a game changing technology. He says both cycles are now well tested in the field and are mature. They only have to be put together with little risk. All it would take is money. GE now can readily do the amalgamation. It has both systems under its control. Will such a development program be announced soon by GE? Could my dream of many years of study and promotional effort finally come true? I think and trust it will.

(Ivan G. Rice was past chairman of the South Texas Section of ASME (1974 - 75), past chairman of the ASME Gas Turbine Division (now IGTI) (1975 - 76). A Life Fellow Member of ASME and Life Member of NSPE/TSPE, he has authored many articles and ASME papers on gas turbines, inter-cooling, reheat, HRSGs, steam cooling and steam injection.)

How about a new reheat gas turbine?

Proposing a new reheat combustor for GE machines