In power plant engineering, gas turbine (GT) evaporative cooling is traditionally thought as one of the few power augmentation alternatives for existing plants.

For most combined cycle plants operating at part load, the GT Inlet Guide Vanes (IGV) will throttle the air flow to the combustor to maintain the turbine exhaust temperature (TET) as high as possible, thus maximizing the overall combined cycle efficiency. The IGV air throttling results in a reduction of the turbine inlet air temperature (TIT) due to a reduction on the mass of fuel burned in the combustors as the available combustion air decreases due to IGV throttling to maintain an optimum air to fuel ratio, resulting on a lower TET compared with the same GT at base load. The compounded result of these effects limits the maximum steam production capacity on the heat recovery steam generator, particularly for the high-pressure section, hampering the efficiency of the steam turbine.

The methodology developed in the subject study aims at counteracting the afore-mentioned effects by optimizing the evaporative cooler air/water ratio which results in the lower possible heat rate for full load and part load operation. By dynamically controlling the air/water ratio, a preheating effect can be achieved in the compressor inlet air, which results on higher exhaust gas temperature, thus augmenting the high-pressure steam production on the heat recovery steam generator and accordingly the steam turbine efficiency.

For a newly built 907 MWe Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plant, application of the evaporative cooling part load optimization methodology presented in this study could lead to a potential reduction of up to 158kJ/kWh on heat rate and 9.318 g/kWh of CO2 emissions if compared with the same plant without dynamic control of the evaporative cooler air/water ratio.

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