Aiming to extend the success it recently achieved with a new class
of large utility-scale gas turbines, the Department of Energy has selected
four proposals to begin studying ways to boost the performance of the
next generation of mid-size electric power generating gas turbines.
The Energy Department has selected:
- Pratt & Whitney, East Hartford, CT
- Rolls-Royce Allison, Indianapolis, IN
- Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp., Orlando, FL, and
- GE Power Systems, Schenectady, NY
to begin examining innovations that could enhance the efficiency and
environmental performance of gas turbines in the 30- to 200-megawatt range.
Earlier this year, the Energy Department announced a major
"breakthough" gas turbine sized at 400 megawatts which will
be capable of achieving world-record efficiencies and much cleaner operations
than any large turbine in use today. Culminating almost eight years of
research and development, the new turbine is the ideal size for future
large natural gas-fueled power plants.
With the restructuring of the electric power industry, however, an increasing
number of power companies are planning units in the 30- to 200-megawatt
range. An Energy Department co-sponsored study forecasts that about half
the U.S. demand for gas turbine systems through 2020 is likely to be for
mid-size turbines suitable for both central and distributed power applications
Besides providing both steady electricity (baseload power) and meeting
surges in power demand (peaking power), these smaller turbines might also
be ideal for repowering aging coal plants, relieving congestion in the
power transmission system, and providing electric power on board future
To achieve similar efficiency and environmental gains as it did for the
larger turbines, the Energy Department - through its Office of Fossil
Energy - will provide the four winning proposers with a total of $2.25
million to conduct early system studies of possible "next generation"
turbine configurations. The companies will add another $1.24 million to
the effort. The studies are expected to take 13 to 15 months.
The Department's goal is to increase the net system efficiency by 15
percent or more while reducing operations, maintenance and capital costs
by at least 15 percent, compared to comparable size units operating today.
The Department also envisions these turbine systems to be used as power
modules in its futuristic Vision 21 energy plant. Vision
21 is a concept for a fleet of virtually non-polluting advanced energy
plants that would run on multiple fuels and produce a slate of clean liquids,
chemicals and feedstocks, as well as electricity. Each of the system studies
is required to describe how the proposed turbine would fit into a future
Vision 21 plant.
The "next generation" turbine system development effort could
follow a similar development path as the department's larger-scale advanced
turbine systems program. Promising concepts could become the basis for
more detailed engineering designs, component development and testing,
and ultimately, the manufacturing of prototype machines. If the development
effort is successful, the first "next generation" turbine systems
could be ready for market entry around 2008. Integration of "next
generation" technology into Vision 21 plants is planned
in the 2010-2015 timeframe.
The four companies were selected from a competition begun by the Energy
Department last December.
The winning proposers, which will be overseen by the National Energy
Technology Laboratory in Morgantown, WV, and Pittsburgh, PA, will carry
out the following projects:
- Pratt & Whitney, East Hartford, CT, will conduct a study of an
intercooled aeroderivative industrial gas turbine that is based on a
commercial aircraft engine (PW8160) now being developed. Specifically,
the study will address: 1) configuring a dry, low-emissions combustor,
2) extending current turbine materials, 3) improving cooling and turbine
efficiency, and 4) extending bearing and seal technology. The next generation
turbine will be in the 50-megawatt class for a single unit and 100 megawatt
class for a 2-unit configuration in which each system drives one end
of the electric generator. Proposed DOE award: $594,000; corporate share:
- Rolls-Royce Allison, Indianapolis, IN, will enhance and simplify a
gas turbine engine design now used in U.S. Navy ships (WR21) by modifying
recuperation and intercooling technologies. A feasibility study will
detail the most promising cycles and technologies based on preliminary
design, cost and schedule. An outline of a plant that could lead to
the gas turbine technology's commercialization will be featured in the
study. Proposed DOE award: $464,000; corporate share: $308,000.
- Siemens-Westinghouse Power Corp., Orlando, FL, will pursue a modular
gas turbine with new "enabling" technologies in a single,
low-cost system design that holds worldwide applications. The turbine
is to operate on natural gas as well as a syngas derived from coal or
biomass, and can be integrated into a fuel cell/turbine hybrid system
to reach efficiency levels mandated by the Vision 21 program.
Proposed DOE award: $571,000; corporate share: $245,000.
- GE Power Systems, Schenectady, NY, will recommend an engine configuration
after performing a parametric study of three broad categories of gas
turbines: aero-derivative, heavy duty and a potential hybrid combining
components of the other two categories. A feasibility study will be
performed for each turbine GE selects, technical areas that need further
development will be identified and a cost estimate for each system,
along with an analysis of its public benefits, will be included. A market
analysis will quantify the potential demand for the candidate engine.
Proposed DOE award: $619,000; corporate share: $448,000.