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DOE Selects Ten Projects to Conduct Advanced Turbine Technology Research

August 14, 2013 - 1:44pm

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ten university projects to conduct advanced turbine technology research under the Office of Fossil Energy’s University Turbine Systems Research (UTSR) Program have been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for additional development. 

Developing gas turbines that run with greater cleanness and efficiency than current models is of great benefit both to the environment and the power industry, but development of such advanced turbine systems requires significant advances in high-temperature materials science, an understanding of combustion phenomena, and development of innovative cooling techniques to maintain integrity of turbine components. These university projects will further the goal of producing advanced gas turbines that combine high-efficiency, low-emissions, and cost-effectiveness.

The10 projects were selected competitively among 33 applications.  The universities, located in Texas, Indiana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and California, will develop solutions to specific technical challenges and barriers that must be overcome to enable the development of advanced gas turbines and gas turbine-based systems that will operate reliably, cleanly, efficiently, and cost effectively when fueled with coal-derived hydrogen, synthesis gas (syngas) and natural gas fuels.

Established in 1992, the UTSR Program has grown into a consortium of university, government, and industry participants working together to make the most of U.S.-based university research for advanced turbines and turbine-based systems; to advance fundamental turbine technology development; to support industry by providing cutting edge experimental research and modeling tools; and to provide U.S. students with practical training in gas turbine technologies.  The program, managed by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, investigates combustion, aerodynamics, heat transfer, and materials systems — all areas that support the Office of Fossil Energy's Advanced Turbine Program goals.

The 10 projects are valued at a total of $6,314,361, with DOE contributing $4,998,319 and the remaining cost of $1,316,042 provided by the recipients. Five of the selected projects will pursue research and development in combustion in order to facilitate the development of efficient, robust, reliable, and low emissions combustion systems with expanded high-hydrogen content (HHC) flexibility.  Another five projects will develop efficient and effective cooling techniques along with robust materials in response to increased turbine inlet temperatures in conjunction with increased operating pressures in an effort to increase gas turbine outputs and efficiencies, while decreasing plant capital costs.

The following are brief descriptions of the projects:

Topic Area 1: Research and Development in Combustion

Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas):  The project aims are to further the understanding of turbulent flame speeds for syngas blends at realistic engine conditions and to compile and demonstrate the validity of a comprehensive kinetics model that can predict laminar flame speed and ignition behavior of HHC fuels in the presence of likely contaminants.  The project will utilize two different types of experiments for obtaining fundamental combustion data — flame speed bombs and shock tubes — in addition to chemical kinetics modeling. All of the experiments will be performed in the current existing flame speed and shock-tube facilities, plus the new high-pressure turbulent flame speed bomb. (DOE share: $498,382; Recipient share: $124,595; duration: 36 months)

Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana):  The primary objectives of this project are to develop experimental methods, kinetic models, and numerical tools to quantify and predict the impact of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) on NOx and CO emissions, combustion kinetics, radiation heat transfer, turbulent combustion, and combustion instabilities for HHC fuels by using laminar and turbulent flow reactors and gas turbine combustors operating at high temperatures and pressures. This project will provide detailed data for improving chemical kinetic models of EGR effects, supply insight into the effects of EGR on flame speeds and turbulent flame structure, and assess the impact of EGR on emissions in a high-pressure combustion test rig. (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $150,355; duration: 36 months)

University of Texas at Austin (Austin, Texas):  The overall objective of the project is to develop predictive computational models for large eddy simulations for capturing flame flashback and propagation in HHC fuels in high-pressure gas turbines. In particular, the focus will be on two key topics:  behavior of high-pressure turbulent flames with and without equivalence ratio variations, and flashback propagation through a turbulent boundary layer.  Using a combination of targeted experiments, legacy data, and high-resolution direct numerical simulation data, the predictive accuracy of the models for gas turbine operating conditions will be demonstrated.  (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $124,974; duration: 36 months)

University of South Carolina (Columbia, South Carolina):  The goal of the project is to further advance the understanding needed to develop practical guidelines for realistic predictions of gas turbine combustion and emission properties during operation on HHC fuel. The project will investigate the effects of diluents and minor contaminant species on the combustion kinetics of HHC fuels and will involve both a detailed chemical kinetic model development for HHC-NOx and coupled computational fluid dynamics (CFD)-based multi-physics, multi-dimensional models. Algorithm development for increasing the computational efficiency for integrated kinetics and CFD calculation is also a focus, with the aim of making these models practical for gas turbine designs. (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $130,564; duration: 36 months)

University of California, Irvine (Irvine, California):  The goal of the project is to develop design guides that can be used to predict jet flame flashback propensity as a function of pressure, temperature, fuel composition, free-stream velocity, turbulence level, and fuel-air mixing profiles. This effort will lead to a better fundamental understanding of flashback tendencies and will also provide insight into strategies for preventing flashback. (DOE share: $499,999; Recipient share: $125,000; duration: 36 months)

Topic Area 2: Hot Gas Path Research and Development

University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, North Dakota):  This project is designed to demonstrate the cooling effectiveness and efficiency of three innovative technologies that will offer additional tools to gas turbine cooling engineers in developing advanced cooling designs for high-heat loads. This project will also document the aerodynamic losses associated with these cooling technologies, which is a critical piece of information in the selection of a cooling methodology. Additionally, this investigation will assess the predictive capabilities of advanced CFD for use in cooling designs. (DOE share: $499,996; Recipient share: $124,998; duration: 36 months)

Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana): The project aim is to develop novel prediction tools for creep-fatigue crack growth in nickel-based gas turbine alloys. This will be done by employing a framework of irreversible cohesive zone models (ICZM) together with a strain gradient viscoplastic continuum formulation. The end goal is to create and validate a robust, multi-scale, mechanism-based model that quantitatively predicts creep-fatigue crack growth and failure in nickel-based gas turbine alloys.  A successful model could be embedded into standard finite element software as an add-on analysis tool for gas turbine designers and thus greatly improve their capability to design safe gas turbines without excessive and costly over-design or unsafe under-design.  (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $160,557; duration: 36 months)

Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia): The aim of this project is to develop a microstructure-sensitive crystal viscoplasticity (CVP) model that accounts for γ’ precipitate morphology evolution that will be introduced through the coupling of coarsening kinetics and constitutive relations of the CVP model.  Long-term creep-fatigue interaction studies with specific emphasis on the role of microstructure will be conducted on two single-crystal Ni-base superalloys with potential application to industrial gas turbines.  (DOE share: $499,994; Recipient share: $124,999; duration: 36 months)

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Blacksburg, Virginia):  The overall goal of this project is to provide a better understanding of the combustor swirling flow in a gas turbine combustor and its effect on liner surface heat transfer in order to improve prediction methods and design practices in combustor liner cooling for low emissions combustors.  This project will focus on the interaction between the hot swirling gases and the liner wall within a gas turbine combustor. This will support the development of more effective cooling schemes to maintain and improve combustor durability.  (DOE share: $499,948; Recipient share: $125,000; duration: 36 months)

University of California, Irvine (Irvine, California):   This project will investigate several classes of abradable coatings under simulated exposures to syngas-based combustion environments, evaluating the relevant wear behavior, hardness, stability under cyclic oxidation, and general thermo-mechanical behavior. This project will pursue an improved mechanistic understanding of factors governing performance of high-temperature abradable seals, and degradation mechanisms unique to coal-derived syngas and HHC-based combustion environments with the ultimate goal of developing a knowledge base to support the design of coatings that retain optimal sealing characteristics and that are more resistant to the observed wear-and-attack mechanisms.  (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $125,000; duration: 36 months)

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