Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Unprecedented Use of Ethanol in Gas Turbine Generator

General Electric has collaborated with Petrobras in Brazil to create the first gas turbine power plant to run on ethanol instead of natural gas. GE modified the turbine specifically to run on the renewable biofuel made from sugarcane. If the conversion holds up well, it should be just the first of many examples of high-efficiency gas turbine generators to run on renewable biofuels.
Installed in the Benfica Industrial District, in Juiz de Fora (state of Minas Gerais), the plant has two 6000 GE LM aeroderived turbines manufactured by General Electric (GE), and its total installed capacity is 87 MW. It is connected to the National Interconnected System (NIS) and has supply contracts in effect through 2020. One of these turbines, with an installed capacity of 43.5 MW, was adapted to also run on ethanol.

The conversion of the turbine involved the replacement of the combustion chamber, of one of the injector nozzles, and the installation of peripheral equipment (receipt system, tanks, pumps and filters) which allow the receipt, storage and flow of ethanol to the turbine.

GE developed the new combustion chamber especially for the use of ethanol and natural gas. The equipment was installed in the turbine in Brazil, at Petrobras’ Turbo Machine Workshop, in Macaé. Through an agreement with Petrobras, GE is following-up on the tests and will be entitled to use the data that are obtained to improve and market the technology to other plants in the world.

...The results have been very satisfactory in the first days of testing. In 150 hours of power generation with ethanol, from December 31 to January 13, there was a 30% reduction in NOx emissions, compared to those caused by burning natural gas.

The Center for Natural Gas and Renewable Energies Technologies (CTGAS-ER), a partnership between Petrobras and SENAI, assembled a monitoring station at the Juiz de Fora TEP to measure nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon oxide (COx), and sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions in real time.

Power generation from ethanol opens major opportunities for the country, with economic, energetic, and environmental gains. In addition to the energetic security derived from diversifying the sources of generation, there is also the creation of a new market segment for ethanol in Brazil and abroad, the reduction of the atmospheric emissions levels, and the possibility of negotiating carbon credits on the international market by means of the Clean Development Mechanism (CLM). _tbpetroleum

In other news, research on the pyrolysis of wood pellets using microwaves suggests that microwave pyrolysis of biomass may have a future. Pyrolysis is one of the main methods of increasing the energy density of biomass, along with gasification, torrefaction, and drying/compression.

This report on the materials revolution in relation to nuclear energy is worth reading for anyone interested in near to mid-term developments in nuclear power. The report also discusses the use of glasses and cements for the encasing and long-term safe storage of hazardous nuclear wastes not suitable for recycling.

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