Applications of Gas Turbines
After WWII, the gas turbine rapidly developed as a new and powerful alternative
for both industrial and aircraft applications. During the past decades, it has
demonstrated its suitability for heavy duty, continuous, base load operation in
power generation, pump and compressor applications. Having a high power to
weight ratio, high specific power, reliability and low maintenance cost makes
it ideal for many applications.
While they share many similarities, there are times
when their differences make them uniquely more suitable for a specific
application. In the airborne applications these units are referred to as jets,
turbojets, turbofans, and turboprops. In land and sea based applications these
units are referred to as mechanical drive gas turbines. A major part of the
power produced today is from the combined cycle plants which use a combination
of gas turbines and steam turbines to generate electricity. These combined
cycle systems have an overall efficiency of around 60%. Nowadays these systems
are quite popular, due to their relative low CO2 and NOx
emissions and ability to compensate fluctuations on the electrical grid.
Apart from the applications mentioned above, as a
branch of gas turbine technology, micro gas turbines are becoming widespread.
They range from hand held units producing less than a kilowatt, to commercial
sized systems that can produce tens or hundreds of kilowatts. Micro gas
turbines usually consist of a single stage radial compressor, a single stage
radial turbine and a recuperator. By using a recuperator, the waste heat with
high temperature can be relatively easily captured.