Pressurizing a fluidized bed combustor with a gas turbine greatly improves both sulfur retention and combustion efficiency. Operating the gas turbine with a high inlet temperature (e.g. 900°C) would yield a thermal efficiency about four points higher than for an atmospheric furnace, but 40 y of experience have failed to solve problems with flyash erosion and deposits. Extensive experience such as that with fluidized bed catalytic cracking units indicates that the gas turbine blade erosion and deposit problems can be handled by dropping the turbine inlet temperature below 400°C where the turbine delivers just enough power to drive the compressor. The resulting thermal efficiency is about half a point higher than for an atmospheric bed, and the capital cost of the FBC-related components is about 40% lower.
While a closed-cycle helium gas turbine might be used rather than a steam cycle, the thermal efficiency would be about four points lower and the capital cost of the FBC-related components would be roughly twice that for the corresponding steam plant.