The Externally-Fired Combined Cycle (EFCC) is an attractive emerging technology for powering high efficiency combined gas and steam turbine cycles with coal or other ash bearing fuels. The key near-term market for the EFCC is likely to be repowering of existing coal fueled power generation units. Repowering with an EFCC system offers utilities the ability to improve efficiency of existing plants by 25 to 60 percent, while doubling generating capacity. Repowering can be accomplished at a capital cost half that of a new facility of similar capacity. Furthermore, the EFCC concept does not require complex chemical processes, and is therefore very compatible with existing utility operating experience.
In the EFCC, the heat input to the gas turbine is supplied indirectly through a ceramic heat exchanger. The heat exchanger, coupled with an atmospheric coal combustor and auxiliary components, replaces the conventional gas turbine combustor. Addition of a steam bottoming plant and exhaust cleanup system completes the combined cycle.
A conceptual design has been developed for EFCC repowering of an existing reference plant which operates with a 48 MW steam turbine at a net plant efficiency of 25 percent. The repowered plant design uses a General Electric LM6000 gas turbine package in the EFCC power island. Topping the existing steam plant with the coal fueled EFCC improves efficiency to nearly 40 percent. The capital cost of this upgrade is 1,090/kW. When combined with the high efficiency, the low cost of coal, and low operation and maintenance costs, the resulting cost of electricity is competitive for base load generation.