Cooling turbine inlet air is a proven method of increasing turbine power output, especially during peak summer demand. It is estimated that turbine power output can increase by as much as 0.7% for every 1°C drop in inlet air temperature. Two inlet air cooling systems are widely used: evaporative cooling systems and chiller systems. Evaporative cooling is economical and uncomplicated, but its efficiency can significantly drop if the relative humidity is high. There is also a potential for excessive wear of compressor blades if water droplets are carried into the compressor section. On the other hand, chiller systems have the advantage of being independent of humidity and do not have the potential to cause damage to compressor blades. However, chiller systems consume power and cause a larger pressure drop than evaporative coolers. In this work, the possibility of using an ejector refrigeration system to cool turbine inlet air is explored. These systems are low-maintenance, fluid-driven, heat-operated devices that can use part of the turbine exhaust flow as the heat source for running the cycle. These systems require only pump power to feed liquid refrigerant to the vapor generator, making the power consumption potentially lower than conventional chiller systems. Using thermodynamic analysis, this paper compares the performance of ejector refrigeration systems with that of chiller systems based primarily on their power consumption. Performance characteristics for the ejector system are obtained through a CFD model that uses a real-gas model for R-134a. Published data on the performance of a commercial gas turbine is also considered. The power consumption of ejector refrigeration systems is found to be significantly smaller than that of vapor compression systems, with savings ranging from 19% to 80%. Power consumption is also found to be small compared to the boost in turbine power that is obtained. The percentage of waste heat needed to operate the ejector refrigeration system is found to be generally less than 25%.

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