All major manufacturers of large size gas turbines are developing new techniques aimed at achieving net electric efficiency higher than 60% in combined cycle applications. An essential factor for this goal is the effective cooling of the hottest rows of the gas turbine. The present work investigates three different approaches to this problem: (i) the most conventional open-loop air cooling; (ii) the closed-loop steam cooling for vanes and rotor blades; (iii) the use of two independent closed-loop circuits: steam for stator vanes and air for rotor blades. Reference is made uniquely to large size, single shaft units and performance is estimated through an updated release of the thermodynamic code GS, developed at the Energy Dept. of Politecnico di Milano. A detailed presentation of the calculation method is given in the paper. Although many aspects (such as reliability, capital cost, environmental issues) which can affect gas turbine design were neglected, thermodynamic analysis showed that efficiency higher than 61% can be achieved in the frame of current, available technology.

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