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Nine Universities Begin Critical Turbine Systems Research

July 20, 2011 - 1:00pm


Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Department of Energy announced the selection of ten projects at nine universities under the Office of Fossil Energy’s (FE) University Turbine Systems Research (UTSR) Program. The projects will develop technologies for use in the new generation of advanced turbines that operate cleanly and efficiently using fuels derived from coal and containing high amounts of hydrogen.

The selected universities - located in California, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas - will direct their efforts toward enabling technologies for high-hydrogen-fueled turbines, conducting basic research to help define and address HHC fuels issues believed to impact the design of robust turbines for HHC power plants.

"The Department of Energy is committed to advancing cutting edge research and development into promising technologies that can help America meet its energy needs, remain competitive in the energy economic of tomorrow, and create jobs here in America," said FE’s Chief Operating Officer Charles McConnell. "Projects like this are critical to ensuring the future of clean energy technology right here in America."

The UTSR program, managed by FE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, uses university talent, expertise, and research and modeling capabilities to further advance fundamental gas turbine technology development in the areas of hydrogen combustion, high temperature materials, heat transfer and aerodynamics. Each project will last 36 months.

The selected projects include:

  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.--This proposed project is a comprehensive experimental and computational research effort to obtain a fundamental understanding about mechanisms controlling unstable flame regimes in the combustion of high hydrogen fuels. (DOE share: $454,540; recipient share: $115,997)
  • University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Tex.--This project seeks to develop advanced large eddy simulation (LES) based combustion modeling tools that can be used to design low emissions combustors burning high hydrogen content fuels. Specifically, this project will develop models for two key topics: (1) Flame stabilization, lift-off, and blowout when fuel-containing jets are issued into a crossflow at high pressure, and (2) Flashback dynamics of lean premixed flames with detailed description of flame propagation in turbulent core and near-wall flows. (DOE share: $500,000; recipient share: $138,995)
  • University of California-Irvine, Irvine, Calif.--This project will assess flashback and the subsequent flameholding tendencies associated with geometric features found within gas turbine premixers. Physics-based design guides that can be used by the gas turbine industry to predict (and mitigate) flame holding tendencies will be developed. (DOE share: $499,999; recipient share: $125,000)
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.--This project will develop a quantitative understanding of combustion properties at conditions relevant to gas turbine operation. These fundamental data will provide rigorous targets for development of detailed chemical kinetic reaction mechanisms for high hydrogen fuel combustion, including NOx chemistry. (DOE share: $499,999; recipient share: $135,563)
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.--The project will provide a comprehensive experimental investigation of the structure and dynamics of the reacting flow field for jets injected into a subsonic crossflow in order to better understand how these reacting jets form NOx, and how they might couple with the combustion dynamics that are prevalent in low-NOx systems. (DOE share: $468,995; recipient share: $117,276)
  • Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio--This project seeks to develop a validated modeling capability to characterize the effect of hot streaks on the heat load of a modern gas turbine. The model will be able to accurately predict the heat load and deposition rates in a cooled turbine stage (vane and rotor). (DOE share: $497,223; recipient share: $124,535)
  • University of Connecticut, Storrs, Conn.--This project will utilize a novel Solution Precursor Plasma Spray (SPPS) process to deposit low thermal conductivity, high durability yttria partially stabilized zirconia (YSZ) thermal barrier coatings (TBCs). The SPPS process provides a unique TBC microstructure that consists of through-thickness vertical cracks for strain tolerance; ultra-fine splats for spallation crack resistance; and the ability to produce very low thermal conductivities that result from planar arrays of fine porosity. (DOE share: $498,886; recipient share: $158,767)
  • University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, N.D.--This project involves preparation and testing of corrosion- and spallation-resistant coatings through a novel method called evaporative metal bonding for plating nickel superalloys with protective FeCrAl layers to greatly increase the lifetime of turbine parts made of nickel superalloys and to provide knowledge of microcontaminants present in combusted HHC syngas that may corrode these parts. (DOE share: $480,000; recipient share: $120,000)
  • Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, Tenn.--This project will develop super alloy bond coats via an alternative low-cost electrolytic co-deposition process which offers advantages such as non-line-of-sight applications and capability of producing dense and oxide-free coatings. The failure mechanism of the new TBC/bond coat architecture will also be studied to further improvement of TBC lifetimes. (DOE share: $371,288; recipient share: $95,227)
  • University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.--This project will use lab-scale testing to systematically elucidate the interplay between prototypical deposit chemistries (for example, ash and its constituents, K2SO4, FeS) and environmental oxidants (i.e., O2, H2O and CO2) on the degradation behavior of advanced thermal barrier coating (TBC) systems to gain a better understanding of various life-limiting processes of TBC architectures. (DOE share: $434,325; recipient share: $128,376)