Washington, DC - A simulator that can provide future engineers with realistic, hands-on experience for operating advanced natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) power plants will soon be available at an innovative U.S. Department of Energy training center.

Under a new cooperative research and development agreement signed by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and Invensys Operations Management, the partners will develop, test, and deploy a dynamic simulator and operator training system (OTS) for a generic NGCC power plant equipped for use with post-combustion carbon capture. NETL will operate the new dynamic simulator/OTS at the AVESTAR (Advanced Virtual Energy Simulation Training and Research) Center in Morgantown, W.Va.

With the new NGCC simulator, the AVESTAR Center--established with an initial focus on clean, coal-fired integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plants--will be able to expand its training and energy-research opportunities to include natural gas-fired systems. Based on Invensys’ SimSci-Esscor® DYNSIM® dynamic simulation software and Wonderware® InTouch® operator training interface software, the new NGCC simulator/OTS will be a derivative version of the synthesis gas-fired combined-cycle portion of the IGCC dynamic simulator previously developed for NETL by Invensys. The IGCC dynamic simulator/OTS was deployed at the AVESTAR Center in March 2011 for use in IGCC operations and control research and development, industry workforce training, and engineering education.

"This new high-fidelity, real-time simulator and training system will provide future engineers with realistic, hands-on experience with NGCC plant operation and control, including practice on startups, shutdowns and abnormal situations," said NETL’s Stephen E. Zitney, director of the AVESTAR Center. "Simulation-based training often delivers better preparation for actual operating scenarios and emergencies, which improves the safety, environmental impact, and overall efficiency of the plant."

NGCC is an advanced power-generation technology that improves the fuel efficiency of natural gas. In an NGCC power plant, a gas turbine first combusts natural gas to generate electricity. The hot exhaust gas from the gas turbine is then used to make steam, which is fed to a steam turbine to produce additional electricity. By using the heat from the gas turbine as the heat source for the steam turbine, the NGCC system extracts more useful energy from the heat, increasing the system’s overall efficiency.

The new AVESTAR simulator/OTS will be based on a generic 570-megawatt NGCC power plant consisting of two 180-megawatt gas turbines, two heat recovery steam generators, and one 210-megawatt steam turbine in a multi-shaft 2x2x1 configuration. For use in carbon-capture research, the model will be developed to include process- and heat-integration connections to post-combustion CO2-capture, -compression, and -utilization processes. The results of the carbon-capture research will be used for optimizing NGCC power plants with CO2 capture to have superior operational flexibility, faster ramp rates, better controllability, and enhanced safety, thus accelerating the rate at which commercial-scale carbon-capture technologies will be deployed and used in the years to come.

For more information about the AVESTAR Center, please visit the AVESTAR website.