SAN ANTONIO, July 27, 2012 — Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and its collaborators received a $3.8 million contract from the US Department of Energy to develop a novel gas turbine combustor for a concentrating solar power (CSP) hybrid gas turbine system.
The award was given through the DoE’s SunShot Initiative, a collaborative national effort to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of fuel.
Most commercial CSP plants today generate steam to support turbine electric power generation. The steam generated is limited to a maximum temperature of 400 °C, yielding approximately 40 percent thermal efficiencies. These are well below those achievable with gas turbine combined cycle plants, which can have thermal efficiencies well over 55 percent and as high as 62 percent for state-of-the-art combined cycle power plants.
SwRI’s project — in collaboration with Solar Turbines Inc., Oak Ridge National Laboratories, German Aerospace Center and San Diego State University — aims to combine the advantages of highly efficient gas turbine power plants with CSP systems by operating a gas turbine at up to 1000 °C combustor air inlet temperatures. The collaboration will develop an external gas turbine combustor that can be integrated with a hybrid CSP gas turbine power plant.
The project, to be conducted in three phases, is expected to begin in August and will continue through 2015. During phase 1, researchers will evaluate combustor concepts and develop the design. Phase 2 will entail the fabrication of the system, which will be tested in phase 3.
SwRI is an independent applied research and development organization.
For more information, visit: www.swri.org