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Cleaner combustion

Problem Solved: university research answering today's challenges

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The Lincoln School of Engineering in a long-term partnership with Siemens, is pushing at the boundaries of science and technology to improve combustion technologies that will have significant benefits for energy use and consumption.

The latest advances in scientific knowledge of lasers and combustion are being combined with state-of-the-art equipment to produce a cleaner and more reliable technology for the ignition of both gaseous and liquid fuels for the gas turbines produced by Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery Ltd.

The current ignition system in gas turbines uses conventional flame ignitors to ignite fuels. Unfortunately these systems are plagued by repeated failures and unreliable performance. The inherent characteristics of robustness, reliable performance and high levels of control associated with lasers and laser ignition mean that a laser ignition system will be less prone to failure and will give more reliable performance. Laser ignition also offers the potential to ignite leaner air fuel mixtures, thereby reducing harmful emissions. With the importance of gas turbines to power generation, this research represents a significant leap forward that could result in generating cleaner, safer and more reliable power in the future.

With the importance of gas turbines to power generation, this research represents a significant leap forward that could result in generating cleaner, safer and more reliable power in the future.

A great deal of new knowledge about lasers, ignition and combustion has been generated from the first phase of this research. The fact that it was conducted using existing gas turbine components demonstrates the laser ignition system’s capability for operating within the constraints of existing hardware.

The next stages of this research will use this knowledge to develop a prototype laser ignition system. A key focus of this further development will be the method for delivery of the spark from the remote laser source to the ignition location within the combustion chamber of the gas turbine. The method employed will be delivery of the laser beam to the combustion chamber via an optical fibre.

A fully functional prototype will be further developed through field trials conducted on actual Siemens gas turbines in industry before full production for new gas turbines and retro-fitting in existing gas turbines. This will mean that new scientific and technical knowledge will give Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery a long-term and sustainable technological advantage in the area of ignition and combustion.

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