Currently, high efficiency and low emissions are most important requisites for the design of modern gas turbines due to the strong environmental restrictions around the world. In the past years, alternative fuels have been considered for application in industrial gas turbines. Therefore, combustor performance, pollutant emissions and the ability to burn several fuels became of much concern and high priority has been given to the combustor design.
This paper describes a methodology focused on the design of stationary gas turbines combustion chambers with the ability to efficiently burn conventional and alternative fuels. A simplified methodology is used for the calculations of the equilibrium temperature and chemical species in the primary zone of a gas turbine combustor. Direct fuel injection and diffusion flames, together with numerical methods like Newton-Raphson, LU Factorization and Lagrange Polynomials, are used for the calculations. Diesel, ethanol and methanol fuels were chosen for the numerical study.
A computer code sequentially calculates the main geometry of the combustor. From the numerical simulation it is concluded that the basic gas turbine combustor geometry, for some operating conditions and burning diesel, ethanol or methanol, are of similar sizes, because the development of aerodynamic characteristics predominate over the thermochemical properties.
It is worth to note that the type of fuel has a marked effect on the stability and combustion advancement in the combustor. This can be seen when the primary zone is analyzed under a steady-state operating condition. At full power, the pressure is 1.8 MPa and the temperature 1,000 K at the combustor inlet. Then, the equivalence ratios in the primary zone are 1.3933 (diesel), 1.4352 (ethanol) and 1.3977 (methanol) and the equilibrium temperatures for the same operating conditions are 2,809 K (diesel), 2,754 K (ethanol) and 2,702 K (methanol). This means that the combustor can reach similar flame stability conditions, whereas the combustion efficiency will require richer fuel/air mixtures of ethanol or methanol are burnt instead of diesel.
Another important result from the numerical study is that the concentration of the main pollutants (CO, CO2, NO, NO2) is reduced when ethanol or methanol are burnt, in place of diesel.