The use of gas for power generation is likely to increase in the medium term. Also, the introduction of new fuels will ensure a higher generation with lower emissions under continuous operation. These scenarios lead to the conclusion that there will be a considerably more diverse range of fuel supply. However, the use of these new fuels contrasts with recent experiences of global operators who report increasing emissions and difficult combustion dynamics with even moderate variations in their fuel characteristics. Clearly there are significant challenges for fuel flexible gas turbines, particularly emission control, combustor dynamics and flame stability.

Trials using a power derivative gas turbine combustor and a high hydrogen content fuel produced unusual flashback events, in that flashback was induced by either leaning of the fuel mixture by the increase of combustion air, or by a change in composition through the reduction of methane pilot fuel. The introduction of CO2 through the combustors pilot injector prevented flashback from occurring under these circumstances. The resulting reduction of temperature in the combustion zone, indicated by lower burner tip temperatures causes a reduction in the emissions of nitrous oxides, whilst there is minimal effect on the effective turbine inlet temperature, only a 2.3% reduction.

Investigations using a ‘generic’, radial swirl burner and stereo PIV demonstrated how the flashback depended on a combination of flow structure augmentation and changes in mixture burning rate. The injection of methane or CO2 had differing effect on these parameters of the combustion zone, but both produced combinations that facilitated stability.

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