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GTRC Research Activities


Cardiff School of Engineering’s Gas Turbine Research Centre (GTRC) was formally opened by Rhodri Morgan, First Minister for Wales, on October 2007 who commended it as an excellent example of the partnerships being built between industry and academia in Wales. The GTRC is one of very few of its kind in the world and facilitates novel research studies into the functionality of new combustion systems, components and fuels under elevated conditions of temperature and pressure, as would be experienced within a gas turbine engine during operation.


The GTRC consists of two major combustion rigs each designed for detailed investigation of combustion and emissions in gas turbines.  The rigs are designed for the study of different facets of the combustion process and are operated at different pressures.


An extensive range of state-of-the-art measurement sections are available, some unique, each with different capabilities, all of which are predominately non-intrusive. Exhaust gas samples are collected and transmitted to a comprehensive on-line gas analysis suite. Various fuels may be fired including kerosene, diesel, bio-diesels, natural gas, methane and a range of simulated synthesis gases. Measurements can be made with the following maximum throughputs:


  • Air flow rate:  < 5 kg/s
  • Pressure: < 16 bar abs
  • Temperature: < 900 K


The research drivers for this facility have been for the increased up-take in alternative and renewable fuels and the pursuit of cleaner combustion for the reduction of NOx, CO2 and particulates for land based power generation and aviation sectors.


Below are examples of GTRC research activities:


2007/2008: Alternative Fuels for Industrial Gas Turbines (AFTUR)


This was a successfully completed pan-European EU FP5 project investigating the use of alternative fuels for industrial gas turbines.  The aim of this programme of work was to reduce dependence on imported fuel, to help achieve Kyoto targets (reduce CO2, etc), tackle increased energy demand and increase EU competitiveness in the world market.  The main interest was with integrated plants with gaseous fuel (e.g. IGCC-syngas & land fill/sewage) for energy efficiency.  The experimental activity included burning velocity measurements at elevated pressures and temperatures with H2 & CO2 mixtures with Methane. 


2009 Study on Sampling and Measurment of Aircraft Particulate Emissions (SAMPLE)


The project management was supplied by Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt  (DLR) Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Project partners included QinetiQ, Rolls-Royce, University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, Onera and Vienna University of Technology.  The key purpose of this study was to test and evaluate techniques and methods for particulate matter measurement in the exhaust of aircraft engines at engine exit operational/flight conditions. This study aimed to provide the atmospheric science community with necessary information on instrument applicability and method characteristics under real-world conditions corresponding to engine certification measurements. The consortium of the proposal included associated consultants combining SAE E-31 members with strong expertise in particle measurement, engine manufacturers, and institutions active in coordinating research programmes. This study involved services requested by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) with current research work going on in the framework of the European Network of Excellence ECATS (Environmentally Compatible Air Transport System) and within the UK OMEGA project in order to promote European research in this area.


2009-2012 Low Emission Gas Turbine Technology for Hydrogen Rich Syngases (H2 IGCC)


Recently funded pan-European EU FP7 proposal as part of a consortium organised by the European Turbine Network (ETN).  The project will be investigating high H2 content fuels for use with industrial gas turbines. Problems with existing and new designs of lean premixed combustors include flashback, excessive localised temperatures and elevated NOx emissions.  These problems are overcome at the moment by dilution with cost intensive dilution inerts such as N2 or steam; thus syngas combustion in highly dilute diffusion flames. There is a need for reliable, low emission, competitive technologies for undiluted premixed syngas combustion. Although work - e.g. the EC co-funded AFTUR programme, of which the combustion research programmes were mainly carried out using the GTRC facilities - has been done to examine the fundamental properties of high syngases, to derive burning velocities and related data at conditions pertaining to gas turbine combustors, little has been carried out experimentally to examine the fundamental combustion processes of high hydrogen content syngases in realistic generic premixed combustion systems, including initial flame stabilisation, characteristics of combustion and flame reaction regions, flashback, burnout, emission formation and destruction.


2009-2012 EPSRC Corus Cardiff Centre of Excellence


Steelmaking generates a range of combustible gases, generally of a low calorific value and historically the cost of capturing, conditioning and storing these gases significantly exceeded the cost of natural gas.  However, this is now not the case, with legislative pessures to lower the carbon footprint of steel production and the rising energy prices. Currently the Corus Port Talbot site operates gas fired boilers mainly fired by process gas, generating high pressure steam for electricity generation and feeding a low pressure steam ring main for use across the steelworks.

Combustible gases produced on site will be researched to determine optimum combustion characteristics, whether conventional combustion or gas turbine. Methods of generating electricity and or steam using low grade heat or process gases will be examined to determine whether these new methods would be preferable.


2010-2014 LCRI  “To facilitate the use of alternative (including renewable) fuels for power generation using Gas Turbine (GT) technology”


This research and development project is aimed at facilitating the utilisation of alternative fuels in GT systems used for a wide range of current and future power generation applications. At the moment some 20% of the world’s total electricity supply is derived from GT based systems primarily fired on natural gas. In the future pre-combustion CCS will undoubtedly have to be used to some extent, and this project will investigate the issues with the combustion of hydrogen rich manufactured gas mixtures in GTs arising from pre-combustion CCS. In combination with modern Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) GTs, this will make negative carbon power generation possible. As the price and demand for natural gas increases, alternative fuels will become increasingly important.  Security of supply is becoming a concern for large scale process industries such as Corus and power generators; as such this project will also investigate the suitability of utilising waste process gases for power generation, and enable future studies of Wobbe index variation. .


Renewable fuels include those derived via the gasification and pyrolysis of biomass, biologically derived products from Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and renewable hydrogen.  Alternative fuels include syngases produced from the gasification of coal and the waste gases from steel making and refinery plants such as Corus at Port Talbot. These fuels demand that the GT, especially the combustion system, accept a range of fuels that is much wider than is common today. Numerous problems arise, such as substantially variable heating values, improper location of the flame front, overheating of components, mal temperature and velocity distributions, increased emissions of NOx, CO and hydrocarbons and dangerous vibration levels engendered by the coupling of the combustion process with naturally occurring acoustic and other modes of oscillation in the system. These processes are difficult to predict and require extensive experimental testing at real world operating conditions.  The gases under consideration will have high hydrogen content which can cause unique problems in the combustor due to the high flame speed and hence incorrect location of the flame and danger of flashback. Eventually these gases will be pre-processed to give a very high hydrogen content fuel gas for the GT, with the CO2 being separated at an early stage in the process. This means that a very wide range of alternative fuel types needs to be considered from natural gas containing anywhere from 10% to 100% hydrogen. 

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