When the coolant runs dry: New research shows what happens to nitrogen gas turbines
New research from the University of Western Australia (UWA) has found nitrogen gas turbine fans have a significant impact on the lifespan of their fuel tanks, with the cooling system consuming a total of around 70 per cent of the energy available to the turbine.
Key points:The study by UWA’s Institute for Energy and the Environment (IEE) found that when the coolants run dry nitrogen gas fans can cause significant impacts on the life of their gas turbinesThe authors of the study say this could impact future fuel costs and emissionsWhile there are currently no proven fuel efficiency improvements being proposed for nitrogen gas heaters, the findings from the study are a first step towards improving their performance and the life-cycle impacts they could have.
“We wanted to investigate the impacts of cooling on nitrogen gas temperatures in a controlled laboratory setting,” said UWA professor of energy and environmental sciences, Peter McVerry.
“The cooling system has to be well insulated from the ambient air temperature, so we used a coolant that is designed to dissipate heat to the fan.”
There are many different types of cooling systems, some of which have been used for over 100 years, and we wanted to determine how they behave under certain conditions, and to determine whether the cooling effect would change as coolant ran out.”UWA researchers were able to identify that the cooling effects of a nitrogen gas fan can be significantly impacted by the size of the fan and the size and location of the air vents.”
When we used these models to analyse the cooling impacts of a fan, we found that a large fan would consume more than half the cooling energy from the fan than a small one, and that the fan that is smaller and closer to the vents had a larger cooling impact than one that was further away,” Professor McVary said.”
As the fan is located closer to a fan and is closer to its vent, it also has a lower cooling impact.
“This means that the smaller the fan, the higher the cooling impact.”
The study found that the air vent in a fan is a significant cooling system for a small fan, with it consuming a maximum of 18 per cent less cooling energy than a larger fan.
While this is a major cooling system, the researchers found that this is not the case for a large turbo-turbo system.
“If you are trying to get the cooling efficiency up to 70 per-cent, a turbo-sized fan with a smaller air vent would still produce more cooling than a standard-sized one with a large air vent,” Professor Mavro, from the UWA Department of Energy and Environment, said.
The researchers also found that fans with a larger air vent, such as a fan that had been installed on a turbine, would have a larger effect on the cooling of the turbine than a fan with the same vent size.
“Turbo-sized fans, on average, consume more cooling energy to cool their blades than small fans,” Professor McMavro said.
Professor Mavros research is the first to quantify the cooling effectiveness of a turbo fan, and he said that he hoped that other research would continue to look at this topic in more detail.
“I hope that other researchers will now be interested in studying this subject,” Professor McGarry said.