ME Seminar Series: The Role of Gas Turbines in Global Energy

Nov 19

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - 11:30am to 1:00pm


Professor Lee Langston - University of Connecticut

It has been remarked that ¿invention is the mother of necessity¿ ¿ not the other way around. Technology breakthroughs of themselves, can and do create world markets. In a very short period of history, the gas turbine, youngest of major energy conversion devices, has changed and created global markets in aviation, in marine propulsion and in generation of electric power. In this seminar we will discuss how in less than 70 years the gas turbine has come to dominate aircraft propulsion and now, global electrical power generation. In 1939 the first gas turbines had a thermal efficiency of about 18%. Over the years, many thousands of engineers and researchers in academia and industry have worked to raise turbine inlet temperature, increase pressure ratios, enhance combustion, perfect new materials and improve designs, so that modern gas turbines now achieve 40-45% in simple cycle operation. In combined cycle operation, the gas turbine has become the thermal efficiency superstar of the electric power plant world, bringing about combined cycle thermal efficiencies approaching 60%. Today, gas turbine technology and testing improvements continue apace, and some of these will be discussed. Fuel usage is being drastically reduced in newer land-based gas turbines through the first practical use of recuperators and intercoolers. Small gas turbines are now being used to produce electricity from greenhouse gases at municipal waste water treatment plants.