The implementation of sophisticated combustion control schemes in modern gas turbines is motivated by the desire to maximize thermodynamic efficiency while meeting NOx emission restrictions. To achieve target NOx levels, modern turbine combustors must operate with a finely controlled fuel-air ratio near the fuel-lean flame extinction limit, where the combustor is most susceptible to instabilities. In turbine configurations with multiple combustors arranged around the annulus, differences in flow splits caused by manufacturing variations or engine wear can compromise engine performance. Optimal combustion control is also complicated by changes in environmental conditions, fuel-quality, or fuel-type. As a consequence, engines must be commissioned in the field with adequate stability margin such that manufacturing tolerances, normally expected component wear, fuel-quality, and environmental conditions will not cause unstable combustion. A lack of robust combustion in-situ monitoring has limited the ability of modern turbines to achieve stable ultra-low emission performance over the entire load range. This paper describes a combustion control and diagnostics sensor (CCADS) that can potentially revolutionize the manner in which modern gas turbines are controlled. This robust sensor uses the electrical properties of the flame to detect key events and monitor critical operating parameters within the combustor. The CCADS is integrated into the fuel nozzle such that low cost and long life are achieved. Tests conducted at turbine conditions in laboratory combustors instrumented with CCADS have demonstrated the following potential capabilities: 1) detection of incipient flashback and autoignition 2) detection of incipient lean blowout 3) detection of dynamic pressure oscillations 4) and a qualitative measure of equivalence ratio within the combustor. Many of these capabilities have been reported in other publications with data from an atmospheric combustion rig. This paper will summarize each of the capabilities with recent data at turbine conditions. The expectation is that CCADS will provide the key in-situ monitoring for diagnostics and control of modern gas turbines, allowing them to achieve stable ultra-low emissions performance.
A Combustion Control and Diagnostics Sensor for Gas Turbines
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Thornton, JD, Straub, DL, Chorpening, BT, Huckaby, ED, Richards, GA, & Benson, K. "A Combustion Control and Diagnostics Sensor for Gas Turbines." Proceedings of the ASME Turbo Expo 2004: Power for Land, Sea, and Air. Volume 2: Turbo Expo 2004. Vienna, Austria. June 14–17, 2004. pp. 535-543. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/GT2004-53392
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