Evaporative Cycles - in Theori and in Practise

University dissertation from Per Rosén, Ole Römers Väg 1, Box 118, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: The thesis is based on applied research, rather closed to industrial development. The developed simulation model, for pre-design of evaporative gas turbine cycles, has been validated in a 600 kW pilot plant and in rebuilt turbo-charged diesel engines. Besides of the work with the thesis including theoretical modelling and hardware development concerning wet cycles, the work has also resulted in three patents dealing with the technique studied. The main feature of the evaporative cycles is the way the integration between the gas and liquid flows is executed, combined with using low-level heat gathered into the liquid phase which is later used to evaporate the liquid itself in a humidification tower. In this tower, the mass- and heat transfer take place under stable physical laws, and if the tower is properly designed, the distilling effect in the tower will also be high. Today the combined cycle has the best thermal efficiency to generate electricity from fuels. Every new power cycle, including the evaporative cycles, will therefore be compared with power stations based on combined cycles. In evaporative cycles, the steam bottoming cycle of the combined cycles has been eliminated. Instead the “steam” cycle is integrated into the gas cycle. This action has a favourable effect on thermal efficiency and on NOx formation in the combustion zone. The major part of this thesis is about the EvGT-project. At Lund University, the major objective of this project was to develop, design, erect and operate the world’s first evaporative gas turbine unit. The objective was accomplished in 1999, and in the process of reaching the objective, rather large modelling errors, both thermodynamic and dimensioning of the humidification tower, have been detected in the open literature. It seems as if the pressure dependency of the humidification process has been underestimated in the models used today. The EvGT-pilot plant at Lund University was built and taken into operation in three reversible steps: 1. Simple open gas turbine cycle 2. Recuperative gas turbine cycle 3. Evaporative gas turbine cycle The braked efficiency of the gas turbine engine increased from 22% for the simple cycle to 35% for the evaporative cycle. The NOx was reduced by about 90% for the evaporative cycle compared to the simple cycle. Single digit NOx-emission levels were measured in the normal operation interval using a simple diffusion flame combustion chamber operating on natural gas. However, the pilot plant has been optimised neither for best performance nor for best emissions values; instead the main goal was just to show an operable evaporative gas turbine unit and to verify performance calculations made in the author’s licentiate thesis. During the work, a spin-off idea, the HAM-concept (Humid Air Motor), was introduced. In the HAM-concept, a turbo-charged reciprocate combustion engine is equipped with a humidification tower situated between the turbo-charger and the engine. This action reduces NOx emissions and raises the efficiency of the engine, and at the same time, operates as an online cleaning device of the engine. Today this concept has been demonstrated in a full-scale marine retrofit application with good results. In fact, the HAM-concept is presently on the brink of being commercialised. In the struggle to find a good cogeneration solution of the evaporative cycles and at the same time to close the water loop completely, one new idea further arose. This new concept is presented for the first time in this thesis. The concept is called the “The TRIGENERATIONTM Technology” due to its possibility of offering three benefits from one cycle. These cycles will have the possibility of reaching higher than 100% total efficiency even if the performance calculations are based on the higher heating value of the fuel. Due to the stable and thermodynamically favourable way the pressurised humidification tower operates in evaporative cycles, its compactness, combined with its scrubber and distilling features, the author believes that this component will be used in many marine and stationary applications in the future.

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