How Gas Turbines Produce Electricity

Posted on May 9, 2021 Alan Walker

While many gas turbines are regularly used as the engine of an aircraft, they can also serve natural-gas-fueled power plants for the means of electrical generation. As a longstanding technology, gas turbines are one of the most widely-used assemblies for power production, and they operate through the properties of internal combustion. While gas turbines are complex machines that can come in various forms, their main sections and general operations tend to remain the same. In this blog, we will discuss the functionality of gas turbines, allowing you to better understand how they may be used for the generation of electricity.

Across gas turbine types, the three primary sections of the assembly are the compressor, the combustion system, and the turbine. The compressor is tasked with drawing air into the engine before increasing its pressure and speed through varying means. Gas turbine engine compressors may be axial, centrifugal, or mixed flow in their design, and each presents its varying advantages. For power generation, however, the axial design is the most widely used variation due to its high flow rate capability and efficiency. Once air has sufficiently been pressurized by the compressor, it is then sent into the combustion chamber at speeds reaching hundreds of miles per hour.
The combustion system, or combustion chamber, is the section of the turbine where the ignition of fuel-and-air mixtures takes place. As the high pressure air enters the assembly, it passes through a ring of fuel injectors which spray a consistent stream of fuel so that it may be mixed into the air. With the use of spark plugs or another ignition device, the pressurized fuel-and-air mixture may be ignited at a temperature surpassing 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. As the mixture is ignited, it produces quickly expanding gases with high pressure and heat. This expanding gas forces its way out of the combustion system and is then passed into the turbine assembly.
The turbine section consists of aerofoil blades that are organized in an array of stationary and rotating sections that alternate. As the hot and expanding combustion gases pass through the blade gas turbine assembly, they force the blades to begin spinning at high speeds. With the rotational force of the turbine blades, power can be used to drive the compressor for continuing the intake of air as well as spin a generator for electricity generation.
When using a gas turbine for power generation, having the highest fuel-to-power efficiency possible is best for operations. One of the biggest factors for fuel-to-power ratios is operating temperatures, and higher temperatures tend to lead to increased efficiency and savings. As there can be various parts that are at risk of damage due to the intense heat of such operations, cooling air may be used from the compressor to increase thermal management for the protection of sensitive components. Another method to increase efficiency is to use a recuperator or heat recovery steam generator in order to take advantage of exhaust for more energy. While a simplistic gas turbine may only be capable of reaching an energy conversion efficiency rate of 20-35%, high-end systems with proper thermal management, recuperators, or other equipment can reach up to 80% efficiency.
 Through the various steps of the combustion process, fuel and air may be used to create large amounts of energy that is harnessed by the turbine for the means of electrical generation. When you are in need of reliable gas turbine assembly products such as bolt gas turbine parts, compressor components, spark plugs, and more, look no further than Jet Parts 360. Jet Parts 360 is a trusted distributor of aircraft parts and other aerospace components, and we provide customers the ability to compare quotes for every aviation product we carry through the use of our RFQ service. Initiate the request for quote process today and experience how Jet Parts 360 can serve as your strategic sourcing partner.


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