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WHAT IS A MICROTURBINE?
A microturbine is a relatively small machine used for generating electricity. It utilizes a fuel such as propane for driving a small turbine that powers an electric generator. Microturbines are relatively new devices, and in many cases, are still being developed. They typically produce between 30 kW and 250 kW of electrical power.
Microturbines can be used for a variety of applications, including stand-by or backup power for businesses, power quality and reliability when a business can’t support any variation in power, locations requiring both heat and power. Microturbines can also be used in automotive applications such as buses.
Capstone is a leader in the microturbine industry with the most units in the field; over 2,500 units have been sold (30 kW and 60 kW
units). Other leading microturbine manufacturers with products available in the U.S. include Bowman Power Systems, Elliott Energy Systems, IR Energy Systems, and Turbec AB.
PROPANE AS A FUEL IN MICROTURBINES
Propane is a viable source of fuel for microturbines and has been tested in the laboratory by most of the microturbine manufacturers. It is estimated that 5% to 15% of microturbine generators will preferentially use propane as a fuel. Propane microturbines have many applications, including providing power to remote locations where conventional electrical power is not available. Propane is also used as a backup fuel with diesel or natural gas in situations where fuel redundancy is required for greater overall reliability.
Vaporizer and Capstone C30 Installed
Propane -fueled microturbines have additional requirements beyond those for the operation of a standard propane appliance or a natural gas-fueled microturbine. These issues include:
• Microturbines requires relatively high vapor pressure (55-80 psig)
• Propane liquid can not enter the microturbine system, fuel must be in vapor form
• Microturbine systems are smaller than typical propane systems, requiring specialized equipment
• Many sites will not have electric power available; the propane microturbine must be able to stand alone
Additional equipment may be required to ensure that these issues are addressed.
There are several options to ensure propane vapor is delivered to the microturbine without risk of recondensation. These different equipment options include:
• Natural Vaporization
• Liquid Pump and Gas Vaporizer
• Tank Heaters
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