The General Electric Company has developed and successfully tested a full-scale, ‘F’ class (2550°F combustor exit temperature), rich-quench-lean (RQL) gas turbine combustor, designated RQL2, for low heating value (LHV) fuel and integrated gasification combined cycle applications. Although the primary objective of this effort was to develop an RQL combustor with lower conversion of fuel bound nitrogen to NOx than a conventional gas turbine combustor, the RQL2 design can be readily adapted to natural gas and liquid fuel combustion.
RQL2 is the culmination of a 5 year research and development effort that began with natural gas tests of a 2″ diameter perforated plate combustor and included LHV fuel tests of RQL1, a reduced scale (6″ diameter) gas turbine combustor. The RQL2 combustor includes a 14″ diameter converging rich stage liner, an impingement cooled 7″ diameter radially-stratified-quench stage, and a backward facing step at the entrance to a 10″ diameter film cooled lean stage. The rich stage combustor liner has a novel double-walled structure with narrow circumferential cooling channels to maintain metal wall temperatures within design limits. Provisions were made to allow independent control of the air supplied to the rich and quench/lean stages.
RQL2 has been fired for almost 100 hours with LHV fuel supplied by a pilot scale coal gasification and high temperature desulfurization system. At the optimum rich stage equivalence ratio NOx emissions were about 50 ppmv (on a dry, 15% O2 basis), more than a factor of 3 lower than expected from a conventional diffusion flame combustor burning the same fuel. With 4600 ppmv NH3 in the LHV fuel, this corresponds to a conversion of NH3 to NOx of about 5%. As conditions were shifted away from the optimum, RQL2 NOx emissions gradually increased until they were comparable to a standard combustor. A chemical kinetic model of RQL2, constructed from a series of ideal chemical reactors, matched the measured NOx emissions fairly well. The CO emissions were between 5 and 30 ppmv (on a dry, 15% O2 basis) under all conditions.