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MICROTURBINES

DISTRIBUTED ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES

To meet the country’s need for cleaner, more reliable and ef cient energy, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Of ce of Distributed Energy and Electric Reliability and its Programs are working with energy technology suppliers and end-users to promote the understanding and adoption of distributed energy. Distributed Energy Technologies can be located at or near the building or facility where the energy is used to provide greater power reliability and reduced emissions. Controls and communications, energy storage, and combined cooling, heating and power are End-Use Integration and Distribution systems. High Temperature Superconductivity is one way to harness high-tech to ef ciently distribute power. Tools and systems that increase the reliability and performance of the existing energy grid are part of Transmission Reliability.

Microturbines are a new type of combustion turbine for use in distributed energy generation applications. About the size of a refrigerator, microturbines produce 25 to 500 kW of energy and can be located on sites with limited space for power production. Waste heat recovery can be used in combined cooling, heating, and power (CHP) systems to achieve energy ef ciency levels greater than 80 percent.

Microturbine generator units are comprised of a compressor, combustor, turbine, alternator,

recuperator, and generator. In a simple-cycle turbine (without a recuperator), compressed air is mixed with fuel and burned under constant pressure conditions. The resulting hot gas is allowed to expand through a turbine to perform work.

Recuperated units use a heat exchanger (recuperator or regenerator) that recovers some of the heat from the turbine exhaust and transfers it to the incoming air stream for combustion in the turbine. By using recuperators that capture and return waste exhaust heat, existing microturbine systems can reach 25 to 30 percent cycle ef ciency. The incorporation of advanced materials, such as ceramics and thermal barrier coatings, could further improve their ef ciency by enabling a signi cant increase in engine operating temperature.

Microturbines offer many advantages over other technologies for small-scale power generation, including the ability to provide reliable backup power, provide power for remote locations, and peak shave. Other

A split shaft microturbine can provide both power and heat to end-users.

MARKET POTENTIAL

 Because of their compact size and low operation and maintenance costs, microturbines are expected to capture a signi cant share of the distributed generation market.

 Scalability lends technology to modular buildout of high-density electric load facilities, which need high power reliability.

ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS

 Low greenhouse gas emissions.

 Relatively low noise.

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