Jun 10, 2015 | Atlanta, GA
Two Georgia Tech research teams were recently awarded more than $2 million in combined research and development grants from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) University Turbine Systems Research (UTSR) program to facilitate the development and demonstration of next-generation gas turbine technology. The two Georgia Tech teams were among only nine selected nationwide to receive funding through the program.
“Georgia Tech is nationally recognized for its combustion research and the kind of innovation needed to develop the power generation technologies of the future,” said Aerospace Engineering School Chair and W. R. T. Oakes Professor Vigor Yang. “These grants provide an opportunity for our faculty to play an integral role in shaping the design and application of promising advanced high-efficiency, low-emissions combustion technologies that will help us better balance global energy needs with responsible environmental stewardship.”
Wenting Sun, an assistant professor in the School of Aerospace Engineering, received a $1M grant to conduct a three-year study of oxy-combustion technologies capable of high-efficiency, low-cost carbon dioxide (CO2) capture from coal and natural gas-fired power plants. Professors Devesh Ranjan (Mechanical Engineering), Tim Lieuwen (Aerospace Engineering), and Suresh Menon (Aerospace Engineering) will collaborate on the project.
Oxy-combustion represents one of the most promising methods for removing carbon dioxide from gas and coal-fired power plant exhaust gases. Unlike conventional combustion processes that utilize air as the oxygen source, oxy-combustion utilizes pure oxygen for combustion. The approach produces a flue gas stream consisting mainly of CO2 and water vapor, which allows the CO2 to be much more easily and more cost-effectively captured from exhaust gas than with conventional combustion methods where nitrogen is the dominant flue gas component. While the use of pure oxygen eliminates the presence of pure nitrogen in the flue gas - which can react negatively with oxygen at combustion temperatures - the approach requires high-pressure, high temperature operating conditions that far exceed the capabilities of conventional gas turbine engines. In addition, little is known about how the extreme conditions or the higher bulk gas concentrations of CO2 in the oxy-combustion environment affect combustion properties and overall system performance.
Sun’s project titled, “Investigation of Autoignition and Combustion Stability of High Pressure Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Oxycombustion, aims to address many of these uncertainties by exploring how high-pressure oxy-combustion conditions affect gas turbine cycle efficiency and environmental performance. The team will measure auto-ignition delays of CO2 diluted oxygen/fuel mixtures under high pressure to develop optimized combustion models for supercritical carbon dioxide oxy-combustion.
Aerospace Engineering Professor Tim Lieuwen was also awarded a 3-year, $1 million grant through the UTSR program to develop low-NOx combustor concepts that operate at higher temperatures than conventional low-NOx combustion approaches, while still reducing emission levels and maintaining optimal engine performance. Increasing the firing temperature of the combustors in power generating gas turbines, helps to improve efficiency, but leads to increased emissions of NOx and other harmful pollutants. The project, High Temperature, Low NOx Combustor to Minimize NOx Formation Rates, aims to explore and influence the processes that control combustion characteristics, particularly emissions. Aerospace Engineering Professors Brian German, Jerry Seitzman and Suresh Menon will collaborate on the project.
Established in 2002, the DOE’s University Turbine Systems Research program is focused on advancing the technology base to enable development of advanced turbines in 21st century energy plants. The program is administered through the Office of Fossil Energy and leverages university research to accelerate basic turbine technology development, to provide non-proprietary research to support industry, and to provide training in gas turbine technologies for U.S. students.