TURBOmachinery REtrofits enabling FLEXible back-up capacity for the transition of the European energy system

The energy sector accounts for two thirds of the global CO2 emissions and is therefore crucial to ensure future green growth and to achieve the global emission reduction targets. Substantial reduction of CO2 emissions can only be achieved by large-scale deployment of renewable energy sources, including in particular the most abundant energy sources, wind and sun. Their intermittent nature however poses significant challenges for the energy system as peak demand from the system and peak production form those intermittent sources do not overlap. As there are no large-scale storage solutions available yet, other backup capacities are needed. The installed fossil capacity is large enough to provide this back-up power. However, the plants were designed for baseload operation, which results in increased wear and costs through cyclic operation and unnecessarily high emissions in the start-up phase. Providing technology upgrades to retrofit the installed power plants to enable flexible operation without penalties on life, cost and emissions is an opportunity to quickly provide the necessary backup capacity to keep the energy system stable and resilient and at the same time enabling higher renewable shares.

The mission of TURBO-REFLEX is the development and optimization of technologies, applicable to a selected set of turbomachinery engine components, which can be used to retrofit existing power plants as well as new machines in order to enable more flexible operation, providing the flexible back-up capacity needed for introducing a larger share of renewables in the energy system. TURBO-REFLEX will assess the impact of such technologies at plant level and prepare the transfer of component technology gains into reduction of both (unplanned and planned) outages and maintenance and operation costs.

The Lean Blow Off (LBO) limit is a significant hurdle to further reduce the part load of gas turbines as the operating zone of the combustor is restricted by the LBO limit. Jet stabilized premixed flames will be forecasted with blow off stability down to 1000°C–1200°C combustion temperature with or without using pilot flames. 1000°C–1200°C combustion temperature would equal emission compliant part load operation down to 20%-25%. Better blow-off stability in the combustor is a prerequisite to running higher load gradients. Therefore, it is expected that jet stabilized premixed flames with better LBO limits will allow also gradients faster than 40MW/min.

EBIvbt at KIT will model the blow-off of jet flames with advanced computational models. These models include basic geometrical parameters like duct diameter and dump ratio, but also the effect of neighboring pilot flames. A 3D simulation model will be developed and experimentally validated at conditions close to the application. The turbulence-chemistry interaction will be captured by two different combustion models. Within both models, a transport equation of a reaction progress variable will be solved. The difference between the combustion models is in the source term modelling. In the first model, the source term depends on mixture fraction and the progress variable itself. In the second model, which is based on the “turbulent flame speed closure” approach, the source term depends on the laminar flame velocity. Therefore, one can calculate the influence of the stretch and heat loss on the laminar flame speed by simplified 1D modelling. The comparison of the two models to experimental data will show which model is more suitable for the applied boundary conditions.