Catalytically supported thermal combustion can provide low NOx emissions with gaseous and distillate fuels while maintaining high combustion efficiency. For stationary gas turbines, catalytic combustion may be the only emerging technology that can cost effectively meet recent federal regulations for NOx emissions. Under EPA sponsorship, a small-scale, catalytic gas turbine combustor was developed to evaluate transient and steady state combustor performance. The combustor consisted of a multiple air-atomizing fuel injector, an opposed jet igniter, and a graded-cell monolithic reactor. System startup, including opposed jet ignition and catalyst stabilization, was achieved in 250 seconds. This time interval is comparable to conventional gas turbines. Steady state operation was performed at 0.505 MPa (5 atmospheres) pressure and 15.3 m/s (50 ft/s) reference velocities. Thermal NOx emissions were measured below 10 ppmv, while fuel NOx conversion ranged from 75 to 95 percent. At catalyst bed temperatures greater than 1422K (2100°F), total CO and UHC emissions were less than 50 ppmv indicating combustion efficiency greater than 99.9 percent. Compared with conventional gas turbine combustors, the catalytic reactor operates only within a relatively narrow range of fuel/air ratios. As a result, modified combustor air distribution or fuel staging will be required to achieve the wide turndown required in large stationary systems.

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