SwRI Wins DOE Funding to Advance Gas-Fired Power Plants

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Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), of San Antonio, is a member of three teams awarded about $18.2 total funding by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory to develop technologies advancing power generation.

The initiative to improve gas turbine components and super-critical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power cycles means SwRI will receive about $7.8 million for its part in the endeavor. All three projects are three-year efforts and are expected to be underway in August 2016.

“SwRI has been working with the Department of Energy for the past 10 years on several large power plant and energy development programs,” said Klaus Brun, a program director in SwRI’s Mechanical Engineering Division.

SwRI will lead the team of Thar Energy LLC, GE Global Research, Georgia Tech and the University of Central Florida for the project, “High Inlet Temperatures Combustor for Direct Fired Supercritical Oxy-Combustion.” It will demonstrate an integrated 1 megawatt oxy-combustion cycle to advance fossil fuel fired sCO2 power cycles. Its goals include generating a detailed combustor and test stand design, and fabricating and integrating a prototype into an existing test loop at SwRI for performance testing.

GE Global Research will lead “Development of Low-Leakage Seals for Utility-Scale sCO2 Turbines” in which GE and SwRI will develop advanced shaft seal technology for large, high-pressure, high-temperature applications. Objectives include developing detailed designs for the seal and full-scale test rig, fabricating test articles, laboratory testing and full-scale testing at SwRI.

Aerojet Rocketdyne will lead the team of SwRI, Purdue University, the University of Alabama, the University of Michigan, the University of Central Florida and Duke Energy on the project, “Rotating Detonation Combustion for Gas Turbines.” It will develop rotating detonation engine technology for power-generation applications. SwRI will evaluate diffuser devices that remove unsteadiness in the process, enabling integration with power generation turbines.

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