The Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has selected nine research and development projects to receive funding through the NETL-managed University Turbine Systems Research Program. The Program funds a portfolio of gas turbine-focused university projects to facilitate the development and demonstration of next-generation technology. The work will address technical challenges in turbine technology in support of the Energy Department’s strategic goals and program mission needs.

Projects fall under four subtopics: three subtopics on air breathing machines with 65 percent efficiency—including research on low NOx (nitrogen oxides) combustion, pressure gain combustion, and turbine cooling—and one subtopic on oxy-combustion machines for direct-fired supercritical carbon dioxide (SCO2) power cycles. Turbines that operate cleanly and efficiently when fueled with coal-derived synthesis gas and hydrogen fuels help provide the nation with reliable energy with less environmental impact.

Project descriptions follow.

High-Temperature, Low-NOx Combustor Concept Development

The Georgia Institute of Technology Research Corporation (Atlanta, GA) will develop the fundamental knowledge and understanding required for low-NOx combustion concepts that operate at temperatures higher than current low-NOx combustion approaches, without compromising operability or carbon monoxide emissions at partial load. The experimental studies will focus on detailed computations and measurements to understand the local processes that control combustion characteristics, particularly emissions.

Cost: DOE: $799,916 / Non DOE: $199,980 / Total Funding: $999,896 (20% cost share)

Investigation of Auto-ignition and Combustion Stability of High Pressure Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Oxy-combustion

The Georgia Institute of Technology Research Corporation team will focus on key knowledge gaps associated with SCO2 oxy-combustion at high pressure conditions. Researchers will measure auto-ignition delays of CO2 diluted oxygen/fuel mixtures under high pressure to develop optimized combustion models for SCO2 oxy-combustion. Data from this study are essential for the successful development of a combustion model validated at conditions applicable to SCO2 oxy-combustion that can be used in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code to facilitate combustor and power cycle design.

Cost: DOE: $799,963 / Non DOE: $207,446 / Total Funding: $1,007,409 (21% cost share)

Revolutionizing Turbine Cooling with Micro-architectures Enabled by Direct Metal Laser Sintering

The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH) will explore innovative cooling architectures to improve cooling performance and reduce coolant waste. Complex internal geometries will be used to better distribute coolant through microchannels and integrate inherently unstable flow devices to enhance internal and external heat transfer. The reduction in coolant consumption and the increase in cooling effectiveness made possible by the new designs will help industry achieve its goal of 65 percent combined cycle efficiency.

Cost: DOE: $636,453 / Non DOE: $159,353 / Total Funding: $795,806 (20% cost share)

Understanding Transient Combustion Phenomena in Low-NOx Gas Turbines

Pennsylvania State University (State College, PA) will perform research to understand, and eventually predict, unstable combustion resulting from transient operation—the period when a gas turbine changes speed to comply with electricity demand. The project will provide a fundamental understanding of combustion stability during transient operation. The work will also be used to develop a framework to predict, and possibly control, instabilities related to transient amplitude, direction, and timescale.

Cost: DOE: $598,196 / Non DOE: $149,549 / Total Funding: $747,745 (20% cost share)

Effect of Mixture Concentration Inhomogeneity on Detonation Properties in Pressure Gain Combustors

Pennsylvania State University will investigate the effect of fuel and oxidizer mixture properties on the propagation characteristics of the detonation wave in a pressure gain combustion system. This research will help the team improve modeling tools to predict the performance of pressure gain combustors and attain further basic understanding of detonation-inhomogeneity interaction. The results should help improve the design of pressure gain combustion systems, focusing on flow configurations found in rotary detonation engines.

Cost: DOE: $360,000 / Non DOE: $90,000 / Total Funding: $450,000 (20% cost share)

Advancing Pressure Gain Combustion in Terrestrial Turbine Systems

Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN) will conduct detailed measurements in both an operating rotating detonation engine (RDE) and a simplified system that will quantify key physics important for the design and optimization of RDEs, specifically, in the areas of fuel/air mixing, unsteady injector operation, and turbine integration characterization. The team will also work to develop a method to quantify net pressure gain in an operating RDE.

Cost: DOE: $797,181 / Non DOE: $202,413 / Total Funding: $999,594 (20% cost share)

Chemical Kinetic Modeling Development and Validation Experiments for Direct Fired SCO2 Combustor

The University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL) will develop and validate a combustion chemical kinetic mechanism for SCO2 oxy-combustion that can be used for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations in oxy-combustion development. The resulting model will be disseminated to industry. The fundamental and open source nature of the project will allow a broader scientific and industry audience to advance SCO2 oxy-combustion development.

Cost: DOE: $800,000 / Non DOE: $302,793 / Total Funding: $1,102,793 (27% cost share)

Experimental/Computational Study of Non-idealities in Practical Rotating Detonation Engines

The University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) will work to determine what impedes theoretical detonation cycle efficiencies and operability in practical Rotating Detonation Engines (RDE). The team will use experimental measurements and computational tools to research the physics behind non-idealities and link them to pressure loss in RDEs. The resulting data and advanced computational models will be made available to engine and gas turbine manufacturers, directly benefiting emerging technologies.

Cost: DOE: $799,999 / Non DOE: $200,000 / Total Funding: $999,999 (20% cost share)

Design, Fabrication, and Performance Characterization of Near-Surface Embedded Cooling Channels with an Oxide Dispersion Strengthened Coating Layer

The University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA.) plans to improve thermal protection for hot-section components—such as turbine airfoils—in modern and future gas turbines. The team will design, build, and test oxide dispersion strengthened–near-surface embedded cooling channels. This approach will use less coolant air and provide better cooling and cycle efficiency. Data and new technology resulting from the project will be made available for turbine original equipment manufacturers.

Cost: DOE: $798,594 / Non DOE: $216,896 / Total Funding: $1,015,490 (21% cost share)