University Turbine Systems Research

The University Turbine Systems Research (UTSR) Program addresses scientific research to develop and transition advanced turbines and turbine-based systems that will operate cleanly and efficiently when fueled with coal-derived synthesis gas (syngas) and hydrogen fuels. This research focuses on the areas of combustion, aerodynamics/heat transfer, and materials, in support of the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy’s Advanced Turbine Program goals.

UTSR also offers a Gas Turbine Industrial Fellowship program to recruit qualified university research students. This fellowship brings highly trained student researchers from the university to industrial gas turbine manufacturing environments. The UTSR Fellowship experience often results in the employment of highly trained professionals in the gas turbine industry working to continue the advancement of gas turbine technology.

The UTSR Program has evolved over time in response to power generation markets and DOE objectives. Evolution of objectives has involved a transition from turbines operating on natural gas to coal derived syngas to very high hydrogen fuels derived from syngas. This fuel flexibility will also allow gas turbines to be used in integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) applications that are configured to capture carbon dioxide (CO2). The transition requires the development of low-emission turbine combustion technologies for this variety of fuels, improved turbine hot section flow path aero/heat transfer methods, and durable, low-cost materials for the stressing environment.

Combustion: The key goal for the UTSR combustion projects is developing robust, reliable, and low emissions combustion systems with expanded high hydrogen content (HHC) fuel flexibility. This goal is supported by comprehensive experimental testing closely coupled with kinetic/combustion models that can ultimately provide a better understanding of the underlying combustion phenomena (e.g., reaction chemistry, flame speeds, ignition, flame flash back, NOx formation, dynamics).

Aerodynamics/Heat Transfer: Gas turbine technologies continue to pursue increased turbine inlet temperatures, power outputs and higher efficiencies. These advanced conditions produce additional heat loads, aerodynamic loadings, and cooling requirements.  At the same time, turbine designers strive to strike a balance between cooling flow reductions to hot gas path components and part life.  To find this balance and advance overall turbine performance, research is needed to define the aerodynamic and heat transfer environments and the advanced cooling techniques with the potential to mitigate the effects of the higher heat loads in the hot section flow paths.  The UTSR Aero/Heat Transfer projects focus on defining the aero/heat transfer environments and address the higher heat loads associated with operating gas turbines on HHC fuels.

Materials: The goal of the projects under this topic is to develop materials and methodologies that advance the state-of-the-art and address the hot gas path requirements specific to turbines for IGCC application with CCS.  Improving IGCC-CCS plant performance and cost requires the operation of a hydrogen-fired turbine with an increased firing temperature and mass flow rate. The additional material requirements that flow down from these specific conditions include an ability to withstand very high surface temperatures and elevated water vapor contents.  These requirements supplement the typical suite of properties embodied by the state-of-the-art materials used in F-class (and higher) natural gas turbines.

UTSR Projects
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