Georgia Tech Researchers Receive $2million in DOE Grants

The work of two Aerospace Engineering professors with joint appointments in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Wenting Sun and Timothy Lieuwen, has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to receive more than $2 million in combined research and development grants to facilitate the development and demonstration of next-generation gas turbine technology.

Sun and Lieuwen's research teams were among nine selected nationwide to receive funding through the DOE's University Turbine Systems Research (UTSR) program.


"Investigation of Autoignition and Combustion Stability of High Pressure Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Oxycombustion"

Wenting Sun and research team comprised of Tim Lieuwen, Suresh Menon, and ME Professor Devesh Ranjan, received a $1M grant to pursue  a three-year study of oxy-combustion technologies capable of high-efficiency, low-cost carbon dioxide (CO2) capture from coal and natural gas-fired power plants.

Oxy-combustion represents one of the most promising methods for removing carbon dioxide from gas and coal-fired power plant exhaust gases. Unlike conventional combustion processes that utilize air as the oxygen source, oxy-combustion utilizes pure oxygen for combustion.

The approach produces a flue gas stream consisting mainly of CO2 and water vapor, which allows the CO2 to be much more easily and more cost-effectively captured from exhaust gas than with conventional combustion methods where nitrogen is the dominant flue gas component.

While the use of pure oxygen eliminates the presence of pure nitrogen in the flue gas - which can react negatively with oxygen at combustion temperatures - the approach requires high-pressure, high temperature operating conditions that far exceed the capabilities of conventional gas turbine engines. In addition, little is known about how the extreme conditions or the higher bulk gas concentrations of CO2 in the oxy-combustion environment affect combustion properties and overall system performance.

Over the course of his study, Sun aims to address many of these uncertainties by exploring how high-pressure oxy-combustion conditions affect gas turbine cycle efficiency and environmental performance. The team will measure auto-ignition delays of CO2 diluted oxygen/fuel mixtures under high pressure to develop optimized combustion models for supercritical carbon dioxide oxy-combustion.


“High Temperature, Low NOx Combustor to Minimize NOx Formation Rates"

Tim Lieuwen's three-year, $1M USTR grant will allow his team to pursue a project that will explore and influence the processes that control combustion characteristics, particularly emissions. His team, also including Wenting Sun and Devesh Ranjan, as well as Brian German, Jerry Seitzman, and Suresh Menon, aims to develop low-NOx combustor concepts that operate at higher temperatures than conventional low-NOx combustion approaches, while still reducing emission levels and maintaining optimal engine performance.

Increasing the firing temperature of the combustors in power generating gas turbines, helps to improve efficiency, but leads to increased emissions of NOx and other harmful pollutants.

Established in 2002, the DOE’s University Turbine Systems Research program is focused on advancing the technology base to enable development of advanced turbines in 21st century energy plants. The program is administered through the Office of Fossil Energy and leverages university research to accelerate basic turbine technology development, to provide non-proprietary research to support industry, and to provide training in gas turbine technologies for U.S. students.