MORGANTOWN, WV - With nine out of every 10 power
plants to be built in the next decade likely to burn natural gas, the
Department of Energy is supporting a $13.4 million effort with private
industry to extend the life and improve the operations of advanced gas-fired
Of the four
projects selected this month by the Energy Department's National Energy
Technology Laboratory, two will focus on protecting turbine components
from being eroded by the high heat at which modern-day gas turbines operate.
The other two projects will study ways to improve the stability and performance
of turbines, also with a goal of lengthening their useful operating life.
Gas turbines, once used solely for aviation, are now the workhorse in
industry and have become the dominant system for new power plants, especially
those designed to meet peak and intermediate power demands.
The Energy Department has successfully sponsored industry projects to
develop revolutionary new gas turbines that have raised efficiency and
environmental performance levels. The new research projects are intended
to benefit these new machines as well as the hundreds of thousands of
more conventional turbines now used in power stations and industrial factories
around the globe.
The new projects were proposed by:
Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp., Orlando, FL, which proposes
to maximize the lifespan of advanced gas turbines by developing, building
and installing an on-line system to monitor turbines' thermal barrier
coatings, which protect the engine and components against high temperatures.
Losing thermal barrier coating protection can degrade key components
within the turbine, leading to premature failure and costly power
outages. Increasing a turbine's operating life and reducing maintenance
costs may help reduce the cost of electricity. Working with Siemens
Westinghouse will be Indigo Systems, an infrared camera systems supplier,
and Wayne State University, a research organization studying infrared
Project cost: $5.12 million; proposed DOE award: $3.84 million; participant
share: $1.28 million.
Project duration: 60 months
Solar Turbines Inc., San Diego, CA, which will team with CFD
Research Corp., Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp., and the Los Alamos
National Laboratory to produce a laser-stabilization system. The project
will demonstrate a system equipped with a solid-state laser and low-cost
durable optics that can reduce combustion vibrations that can lead
to turbine instability. The system will allow operators to pinpoint
locations within the turbine combustor where fluctuations in the fuel
burning process can be minimized.
Project cost: $4.485 million; proposed DOE award: $3.59 million;
participant share: $898,000
Project duration: 48 months
Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA, with Impact
Technologies, LLC, Boyce Engineering International and Carolina Power
& Light/Progress Energy, which proposes to develop a computer
program that assesses the total "health"of natural gas turbines
and improves their reliability, availability and maintenance. The
project will adapt programs developed by the Department of Defense,
the Navy and NASA to monitor aviation gas turbines.
Project cost: $1.64 million; proposed DOE award: $1.23 million; participant
Project duration: 36 months
Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA, which will
develop a technology that assesses and manages the life of protective
coatings used on natural gas turbine blades and vanes to protect them
against high temperatures. EPRI and its partners, Southwest Research
Institute and Turbine Technology International, will develop analytical
techniques that plant operators can use to estimate the life of protective
coatings. Data will then be fed into economic risk-based computer
programs that the operators can use to decide whether to continue
running the turbine or to take it out of service for repair or replacement.
Project cost: $3.27 million; proposed DOE award: $2.45 million; participant
Project duration: 36 months