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Publication Title | Emerging Technologies Using Microturbines

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The following article was published in ASHRAE Journal, April 2007. © Copyright 2007 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air- Conditioning Engineers, Inc. It is presented for educational purposes only. This article may not be copied and/or distributed electronically or in paper form without permission of ASHRAE.

Using Microturbines

By Robert Zogg, P.E., Member ASHRAE; John Bowman; Kurt Roth, Ph.D., Associate Member ASHRAE; and James Brodrick, Ph.D., Member ASHRAE

Microturbines use small combustion turbines to provide electric power for distributed generation (DG) applications, including combined heat and power (CHP). Compared to conventional gas turbine genera- tors, microturbines typically have lower electric generation capacities (30 to 500 kW versus more than 1 MW), lower pressure ratios (about 4 versus 8 to 10), radial- ow designs (versus axial- ow designs), and incorporate recuperators (versus typically unrecuperated designs). Microturbines are promoted as lightweight, compact, low noise/vibration, low emissions, and fuel-flexible compared to compet- ing DG technologies such as internal-combustion-engine generators.

Characteristics and Development Status

Figure 1 depicts a schematic of a typical microturbine integrated with a CHP system that provides power, heating, and cooling. The compressor section raises air pressure to about four atmospheres and the air then enters a recuperator that preheats the air using turbine exhaust. Subsequently, the heated air enters the combustor, where pressurized fuel is injected and burned. Since commercial buildings are typically supplied with low-pressure natural gas, a compressor generally is needed to pressurize the gas prior to injection. After combus- tion, the exhaust products enter the turbine, which provides shaft power to the compressor and a generator. The generator typically produces high-frequency power that is converted to

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48 ASHRAE Journal ashrae.org April 2007

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