We systematically determine the maximally efficient manner of using water and air in a single-cycle steady-flow combustion gas turbine power plant. In doing so, we identify the upper limit to exergy efficiency for dry and wet gas turbine engines through architectures that employ regenerative work, heat, and matter transfers using imperfect practical devices. For existing device technology, the derived optimal architectures can theoretically achieve exergy efficiency above 65% without employing a bottoming cycle. This surpasses known efficiencies for both wet and combined cycles. We also show that when optimally used, nonreactive matter transfers, like water, provide an alternative, but not superior, thermal regeneration strategy to direct heat regeneration.

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