High Efficiency Gas Turbines at Power Plants

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research


What it is

High-efficiency gas turbines are advanced power generation technologies that convert natural gas or other gaseous fuels into electricity with significantly higher efficiency compared to conventional gas turbines. These turbines utilize innovative designs, materials, and combustion processes to maximize energy conversion and minimize emissions.

Impact on climate action

High-Efficiency Gas Turbines in Low-Carbon Thermal Power bolster climate action by maximizing energy conversion and minimizing emissions. By increasing combustion efficiency, these turbines reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions per unit of electricity generated, accelerating the transition to low-carbon energy systems and mitigating climate change impacts.

Underlying
Technology

  • Advanced Turbine Designs: Innovations in turbine blade design, cooling technologies, and materials are improving the efficiency and performance of gas turbines.
  • High-Temperature Materials: High-temperature materials, such as ceramic matrix composites and nickel-based superalloys, are used in turbine components to withstand the extreme temperatures and stresses of the combustion process.
  • Combustion Optimization: Advanced combustion technologies, such as lean-premixed combustion and staged combustion, reduce emissions and improve efficiency.
  • Combined Cycle Power Plants: Combining gas turbines with steam turbines in combined cycle power plants further increases overall efficiency by utilizing waste heat from the gas turbine to generate additional electricity.
  • High-efficiency gas turbines operate based on the Brayton cycle, a thermodynamic cycle that involves compressing air, mixing it with fuel, and combusting the mixture to generate high-temperature, high-pressure gas. This gas expands through a turbine, producing mechanical energy that is then converted into electricity by a generator.

TRL : 7-8

Prominent Innovation themes

  • H-Class Gas Turbines: H-class gas turbines are the most efficient gas turbines currently available, achieving efficiencies of over 60% in combined cycle power plants.
  • Advanced Gas Turbine Cooling Technologies: Innovations in cooling technologies, such as film cooling and internal cooling passages, allow for higher turbine inlet temperatures, which increases efficiency.
  • 3D-Printed Turbine Components: Additive manufacturing (3D printing) is being used to create complex and optimized turbine components, improving performance and reducing manufacturing costs.
  • Digitalization and Data Analytics: Digital technologies and data analytics are being used to monitor and optimize gas turbine performance, predict maintenance needs, and improve overall efficiency.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Enhanced Turbine Blade Designs
  • Advanced Cooling Systems
  • Staged Combustion Techniques
  • Combined Cycle Integration
  • Ceramic Matrix Composites
  • Nickel-Based Superalloys
  • Film Cooling Technology
  • Internal Cooling Passages
  • Digital Performance Monitoring
  • Predictive Maintenance Analytics
  • H-Class Turbines
  • Gas Turbine Control Systems

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. General Electric (GE):
    • Technology Enhancement: General Electric (GE) is a global leader in gas turbine technology, offering a range of high-efficiency gas turbines for power generation and industrial applications. Their advanced gas turbine systems incorporate innovations such as advanced combustion technology, aerodynamic design enhancements, and digital controls for optimized performance, efficiency, and emissions reduction.
    • Uniqueness of the Company: GE stands out for its long history of innovation in gas turbine technology and its commitment to continuous improvement and research and development. Their gas turbine solutions are known for their reliability, durability, and flexibility, making them suitable for various power generation and industrial applications worldwide.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: GE serves utility companies, independent power producers (IPPs), and industrial customers seeking reliable and efficient gas turbine solutions for power generation, cogeneration, and mechanical drive applications. Their gas turbines are deployed in combined-cycle power plants, cogeneration facilities, oil and gas operations, and industrial manufacturing sites, providing reliable and cost-effective energy solutions.
  2. Siemens Energy:
    • Technology Enhancement: Siemens Energy specializes in the design and manufacturing of high-efficiency gas turbines for power generation and industrial applications. Their gas turbine offerings include advanced models featuring advanced combustion technology, high-performance components, and digital control systems for enhanced efficiency, flexibility, and emissions control.
    • Uniqueness of the Company: Siemens Energy is known for its expertise in gas turbine technology and its focus on sustainability and decarbonization. Their gas turbine solutions are designed to meet the evolving needs of the energy transition, offering efficient and flexible power generation solutions that support the integration of renewable energy sources and grid stability.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Siemens Energy serves utility companies, IPPs, and industrial customers seeking reliable and sustainable gas turbine solutions for power generation and industrial processes. Their gas turbines are deployed in combined-cycle power plants, cogeneration facilities, district heating systems, and oil and gas operations, providing clean and efficient energy solutions.
  3. Mitsubishi Power:
    • Technology Enhancement: Mitsubishi Power is a leading provider of advanced gas turbine technology for power generation and industrial applications. Their gas turbine offerings include cutting-edge models featuring state-of-the-art combustion systems, aerodynamic design optimizations, and digital solutions for improved performance, efficiency, and emissions control.
    • Uniqueness of the Company: Mitsubishi Power stands out for its focus on innovation and sustainability in gas turbine technology. Their gas turbine solutions are designed to deliver high efficiency, reliability, and flexibility while minimizing environmental impact and supporting the transition to a low-carbon energy future.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Mitsubishi Power serves utility companies, IPPs, and industrial customers seeking efficient and environmentally responsible gas turbine solutions for power generation and industrial processes. Their gas turbines are deployed in combined-cycle power plants, cogeneration facilities, petrochemical plants, and renewable energy integration projects, providing clean and reliable energy solutions.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT is renowned for its research on High-Efficiency Gas Turbines, focusing on developing advanced turbine technologies, combustion systems, and thermal management strategies to enhance the efficiency, performance, and environmental sustainability of gas turbine power generation.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the design optimization of turbine components, including blades, vanes, and combustion chambers, using computational fluid dynamics (CFD), advanced materials, and additive manufacturing techniques. They also investigate novel fuel injection, heat recovery, and waste heat utilization methods to maximize energy conversion efficiency and reduce emissions.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in combined cycle power plants, cogeneration systems, and industrial processes. By improving the efficiency and flexibility of gas turbines, MIT’s research contributes to reducing carbon emissions, enhancing energy security, and enabling the integration of renewable energy sources into the power grid.
  2. Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University conducts cutting-edge research on High-Efficiency Gas Turbines, leveraging its expertise in fluid dynamics, combustion science, and energy systems engineering to develop innovative approaches for increasing the efficiency and reliability of gas turbine technologies.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the development of advanced turbine aerodynamics, cooling technologies, and predictive modeling techniques to optimize turbine performance under various operating conditions and environmental constraints. They also explore the integration of renewable fuels, carbon capture, and hydrogen combustion to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and support the transition to a low-carbon energy future.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in power generation, aviation, and distributed energy systems. By advancing gas turbine technology, Stanford’s research enables cleaner, more efficient, and more reliable energy production, driving sustainable economic growth and environmental stewardship.
  3. ETH Zurich:
    • Research Focus: ETH Zurich is engaged in groundbreaking research on High-Efficiency Gas Turbines, leveraging its expertise in mechanical engineering, thermodynamics, and combustion physics to develop next-generation gas turbine systems with unprecedented efficiency, reliability, and environmental performance.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the design optimization of gas turbine components, including compressors, turbines, and heat exchangers, using advanced materials, manufacturing processes, and computational modeling tools. They also investigate advanced combustion concepts, such as oxy-fuel combustion and chemical looping combustion, to enhance fuel flexibility, reduce emissions, and enable carbon capture technologies.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in power generation, district heating, and industrial processes. By pushing the boundaries of gas turbine technology, ETH Zurich’s research supports the transition to a sustainable energy system, where low-carbon thermal power plays a vital role in meeting the world’s growing energy demand while mitigating climate change impacts.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

High-efficiency gas turbines are widely used in power generation around the world, both in combined cycle power plants and as standalone units. They are a mature technology with a proven track record of performance and reliability.