Energy & Utilities / turbines

Technological developments for the gas turbine industry – Which are the most promising?

In the lead up to the Gas Turbines Asia-Pacific Conference we asked members from a global “Gas Turbine Users Linkedin group” what they felt was the ‘next big thing’ in terms of technological developments in the gas turbines industry. Judging by the responses below, there seems to be a major emphasis on lowering emissions from gas turbines.

Do you agree? What other technological developments can you envision – leave them in the comments box!

“I think the same old areas which made the advanced higher temperature and high efficiency turbines feasible: Pushing the envelope in the high temperature materials area and coatings (esp. TBC’s) are critical. Of course, effective and advanced cooling configurations are needed also. Use of ‘dirty fuels’ in GT’s is a challenge… Advancement in this area is required to make GT’s more popular in countries where clean natural gas and liquid fuels are not available.

I believe that the method of power generation by spinning a coil in a magnet (or vice versa) has NOT changed for over 100 years. As the method of power generation changes (PV, fuel cells, wind, Waves, etc), this will have significant effect on the turbine industry as a whole.”
Swami Swaminathan, President and Chief Metallurgical Consultant, TurboMet International

“Emissions regulations are becoming more stringent with time. NOx emissions are now on the single digit level in many countries. Besides the continuous development of lean pre-mixed combustors I think the catalytic combustor will eventually become a better option in order to reduce or eliminate the ammonia injection and therefore pollution caused on the Selective Catalytic Reduction process.”
Victor de la Rosa Baños, Gas Turbine Performance Engineer, General Electric CIAT

Gas turbine

“As the group has said, materials and coatings to allow higher temps and corresponding enhanced thermodynamic efficiency are “high-leverage” areas. I also foresee increased transfer of technology from aero engines where efficiency and reliability is king to industrial GT machines. This will include FADEC and active clearance control. Look at the Next-Gen aero offerings for a guide to the future. Another high-impact technology will be integrated health management to enable transition to true on-condition maintenance, repair, and early fault detection and correction.”
Wayne T. McCandless, Managing Director, Executive V.P., CAU Pegasus

“Environmental regulations have put stringent measures to regulate SO2, UHC and CO from combustors. Hence DLN, WLN technologies have become almost mandatory. Though conventional combustors are still offered but with the changing industry requirement to handle wide Wobbe range (10% or even more) it could so happen that elaborate rig testing stretching the conventional combustor Wobbe range of 5% could be the future for Gas Turbines. Customers nowadays are more focused to burn low quality fuels indicating stretched Wobbe for GT combustor and would like to sell high CV fuels.”
Somnath Mukherjee, Senior Rotating Equipment Engineer (TA2), Brunei Shell Petroleum

“Higher aerodynamic efficiencies, improved material and coating enabling operation at higher temperature, improvement in air filtration system, fuel flexibility.”
Javed Mateen, Deputy General Manager Performance & Planning, Karachi Electric Supply Company LTD

“Key words due to changing boundary conditions (growing amount of renewables and use of non-standard fuels due to economic pressure) in the power generation industry are: operational flexibility. There is a need for low emissions, maximized efficiency and operational stability at low loads, fuel flexibility and fast/robust responsiveness to load changes. All this is governed by the combustion system in a gas turbine engine where new technology will be generating competitive advantages.”
Andreas Abdon, Business Analyst, Creative Power Solutions AG

Colongra Power Plant

“A help to the fuel flexibility/firing temperature equation would be the expedited application of the latest generation of TEBC’s being utilized in rocket engine programs today. In addition to lowering the bulk metal temperature of targeted components, it also protects the parent metal from the corrosive effects of fuels that would normally outside the range that is acceptable today. That is desperately needed in third-world countries, especially where the only fuels may be poor-quality liquids and/or sour gas.

For the DLE crowd, I think the automated, closed-loop tuning applications that are coming online are going to refine and simplify the whole DLE process. It will also allow designers to gather more reliable, high-quality empirical data on what the systems can and can’t do, and provide a laser-like focus on where R&D dollars need to be targeted to wring the best performance out of each system iteration.

Someone above mentioned FADEC, and I think that’s probably where all GT control architectures are headed in the long run…that, or something like it. The more we remove mechanical inaccuracies and instabilities, the more fine-tuned the systems become – especially when it comes to compressor control. In order to take advantage of this, however, the industry needs to begin training a new generation of controls technicians to support the technology. The OEM’s are only going to take us so far. We need to have that next layer of technical savvy to take what the OEM’s give us and really make it fit our business models and contractual obligations.”
Brian Hulse, Manager, Gas Turbine Fleet Engineering, APR Energy

“Personally one of the strongest efforts at the moment for future developments is the need to increase the efficiency, reduce the fuel consumption and at the same time keep the NOx emission to an acceptable level. Complicated task but needed for the future. Strong efforts such as LEMCOTEC, NEWAC and CLEAN SKY research projects have been investigating novel technologies such as intercooling between compression, heat recovery in the exhaust, high by pass ratios, active control of tip clearance, etc. All of this is combined with the necessity to still maintain an acceptable level of emissions.”
Rodrigo Orta Guerra, Engineer, GE Power & Water

“Today, the thermal units are forced to cohabit with increasing renewables (called Flexible operation or Cycling) and amongst the thermal, Gas turbines (and CCGTs) are the front runners to fit the bill since they can be brought/ taken off on-line with minimum time and cost. Another aspect is that in many parts of the world, TOD (Time of the Day) tariff is in force which makes Flexible Operation all the more important towards market arbitrage.”
Sasindran Ayadakandiyil, CEO, ERGONOMIX Intellectual Capital Assets

“High temperature sustainable material of construction for turbine blades.”
Kiran Pawar, Senior Mechanical Design Engineer, Jacobs Engineering India 

The latest technological advancements and updates from the Asia Pacific Gas Turbines sector will be addressed at the Gas Turbines Asia-Pacific Conference, 23 – 24 February 2016 | Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. For more information visit the website.

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