Gas Turbine Fuel

Gas turbine fuel is used primarily for electric power generation. Gas turbines are very similar to jet engines in terms of how they operate. Air is compressed, then burned by a flame with fuel in a confined area. After hot gas quickly makes it’s way through the turbine it begins to turn (either in a generator to produce electricity or in an aircraft to produce thrust power). As the turbine turns it also pulls air into the front of the engine to be further compressed. Once the hot gases exit from the exhaust, its pressure rapidly returns to atmospheric pressure, although the temperature of the actual exhaust may still be extremely hot. The hot gas that exits the turbine gives off a significant amount of energy in the form of heat. This heat is sometimes used to produce steam (by boiling water), which drives steam turbines, which are connected to a second electrical generator. The process of compression, combustion, and expansion is known as the gas cycle, while the process of electricity production through steam is known as the steam cycle. The combination of the two within a single facility is known as a combined cycle gas turbine plant, aka a CCGT plant. These plants have become increasingly popular in the United States due to their efficiency, flexibility, and low pollution when compared to a plant that uses coal for power generation. Most gas turbine plants burn natural gas. Oil based gas turbine fuels are becoming more rare in terms of electrical power generation. In the United States residual fuel is more common than gas turbine fuel as far as far as electrical power generation is concerned. Some other common power generation fuels include coal, hydro-gravity, natural gas, and nuclear power.