Combined cycles have gained widespread acceptance as the most efficient utilization of the gas turbine for power generation, particularly for large plants. A variety of alternatives to the combined cycle that recover exhaust gas heat for re-use within the gas turbine engine have been proposed and some have been commercially successful in small to medium plants. Most notable have been the steam-injected, high-pressure aeroderivatives in sizes up to about 50 MW. Many permutations and combinations of water injection, steam injection, and recuperation, with or without intercooling, have been shown to offer the potential for efficiency improvements in certain ranges of gas turbine cycle design parameters. A detailed, general model that represents the gas turbine with turbine cooling has been developed. The model is intended for use in cycle analysis applications. Suitable choice of a few technology description parameters enables the model to represent accurately the performance of actual gas turbine engines of different technology classes. The model is applied to compute the performance of combined cycles as well as that of three alternatives. These include the simple cycle, the steam-injected cycle, and the dual-recuperated intercooled aftercooled steam-injected cycle (DRIASI cycle). The comparisons are based on state-of-the-art gas turbine technology and cycle parameters in four classes: large industrial (123–158 MW), medium industrial (38–60 MW), aeroderivatives (21–41 MW), and small industrial (4–6 MW). The combined cycle’s main design parameters for each size range are in the present work selected for computational purposes to conform with practical constraints. For the small systems, the proposed development of the gas turbine cycle, the DRIASI cycle, are found to provide efficiencies comparable or superior to combined cycles, and superior to steam-injected cycles. For the medium systems, combined cycles provide the highest efficiencies but can be challenged by the DRIASI cycle. For the largest systems, the combined cycle was found to be superior to all of the alternative gas turbine based cycles considered in this study.

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