Case Study

Power Generation for a Low Carbon Future

The Large Scale Power Generation (LSPG) project within the LCRI has been investigating the technical challenges faced in the utilisation of alternative fuels in Gas Turbine (GT) systems.

Governmental regulations for gas turbine emissions are becoming increasingly more stringent. The demand for new improved designs with ultra-low pollutant emissions is rapidly moving to the forefront of combustor development.  Swirl burner combustor designs are emerging as the preferred method to achieve emission requirements for power generation while maintaining the high combustion efficiency and good flame stability characteristics of conventional combustors.

Over the last few years, the LSPG work package team have been working towards the design, manufacture, and commissioning of a generic swirl burner. The burner is ready to be installed into the high pressure optical rig at the Gas Turbine Research Centre (GTRC); it is the culmination of many years work and will allow the project to proceed with the final research work packages.

The burner will represent a large scale GT system running on syngas, and allows the team to research and predict combustion characteristics such as flame location and conditions for flash back and blow off.  The LSPG staff will produce data that will enable them to analyse renewable and alternative fuel mixtures and conduct combustion stability experiments involving raised pressures and temperatures, as well as using the results to verify computational fluid dynamic models.

The burner will allow internal measurements of dynamic pressure changes with a full measurement suite for Gas Analysis and Particulate Matter characterisation, at a far greater level of accuracy than the current atmospheric rig. With gas consumption and emissions being controlled by such a variety of factors, such as percentages of the fuel mixes, temperature, pressure, steam inclusion, the smallest changes can make the difference between the amount of fuel being consumed, and the amount of emissions being produced. 

By being able to make small changes in conditions, the burner allows the LSPG team to refine and pin-point burner design and fuel mixes to the highest level of efficiency possible. The smallest improvements can be the difference in a tiny percentage of decreasing cost or carbon production, but over the course of a year, this can add up to a massive saving.

Steve Morris, manager of Cardiff University’s GTRC centre said: “The new high pressure burner will enable data to be taken at realistic gas turbine operating conditions of increased power, elevated pressure and temperature. This is important for the future development of clean, efficient, low carbon combustion systems that can utilise renewable and alternative gaseous fuels for power generation. The next couple of months will be a very exciting time commissioning the new burner and understanding its operating characteristics.”