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The Fuel Flexibility of Gas Turbines: A Review and Retrospective Outlook


Land-based gas turbines (GTs) are continuous-flow engines that run with permanent flames once started and at stationary pressure, temperature, and flows at stabilized load. Combustors operate without any moving parts and their substantial air excess enables complete combustion. These features provide significant space for designing efficient and versatile combustion systems. In particular, as heavy-duty gas turbines have moderate compression ratios and ample stall margins, they can burn not only high- and medium-BTU fuels but also low-BTU ones. As a result, these machines have gained remarkable fuel flexibility. Dry Low Emissions combustors, which were initially confined to burning standard natural gas, have been gradually adapted to an increasing number of alternative gaseous fuels. The paper first delivers essential technical considerations that underlie this important fuel portfolio. It then reviews the spectrum of alternative GT fuels which currently extends from lean gases (coal bed, coke oven, blast furnace gases . . . ) to rich refinery streams (LPG, olefins) and from volatile liquids (naphtha) to heavy hydrocarbons. This “fuel diet” also includes biogenic products (biogas, biodiesel, and ethanol) and especially blended and pure hydrogen, the fuel of the future. The paper also outlines how, historically, land-based GTs have gradually gained new fuel territories thanks to continuous engineering work, lab testing, experience extrapolation, and validation on the field.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: France

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