In search of an economical and environmentally friendly manner of power generation the industry is forced to find fuels which can replace conventional fossil fuels. During the last years this has led to significant developments in the production of alternative fuels, whereby these fuels became a more reliable and more efficient source of energy. Fast pyrolysis oil (FPO) is considered as a promising example of one of the alternative fuels.

This research focuses on the application of FPO in a gas turbine combustion chamber. For the OPRA OP16 gas turbine, a numerical approach using advanced CFD simulations has been applied to a real scale gas turbine combustor. The simulations are supported by full-scale combustor tests and atomizer spray experiments. Hereby it has been shown numerically and experimentally that the gas turbine combustion chamber can operate on FPO in the 30–100% load range.

The droplet Sauter Mean Diameter (SMD) has been investigated by means of a Particle Droplet Image Analysis to visualize the sprays in the near field of the atomizer. The effects of the spray pattern are of key importance to the flame structure in the gas turbine combustion chamber. Therefore the results from this dedicated test experiment have been used as input for dedicated CFD simulations.

A dedicated combustion model of fast pyrolysis oil has been developed for the OpenFOAM code, considering both the evaporation of the oil and the burnout of the char. In the simulations the gas turbine electrical load, the cone angle and the droplet SMD of the spray were varied. These simulations provide a detailed insight and description on the evaporation of the pyrolysis oil and the flame characteristics in the low calorific fuel combustor of OPRA’s OP16.

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