With soaring fuel costs and diminishing clean fuel availability, the efficiency of the industrial gas turbine must be improved by utilizing the exhaust waste heat by either incorporating a recuperator or by co-generation, or both. In the future, gas turbines for power generation should be capable of operation on fuels hitherto not exploited in this prime-mover, i.e., coal and nuclear fuel. The recuperative gas turbine can be used for open-cycle, indirect cycle, and closed-cycle applications, the latter now receiving renewed attention because of its adaptability to both fossil (coal) and nuclear (high temperature gas-cooled reactor) heat sources. All of these prime-movers require a viable high temperature heat exchanger for high plant efficiency. In this paper, emphasis is placed on the increasingly important role of the recuperator and the complete spectrum of recuperative gas turbine applications is surveyed, from lightweight propulsion engines, through vehicular and industrial prime-movers, to the large utility size nuclear closed-cycle gas turbine. For each application, the appropriate design criteria, types of recuperator construction (plate-fin or tubular etc.), and heat exchanger material (metal or ceramic) are briefly discussed.

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