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Sustainable Cooling for Gas Turbines

The worldwide demand for energy continues to test the limits of generating capacity. According to the International Energy Outlook, world energy consumption is slated to increase nearly 50% by 2050. This means power generators such as gas turbine operators continually look for strategies to improve their efficiency and reliability. Reducing the overall carbon footprint is critical, and temperature control is one effective strategy. The ambient air can affect the efficiency and determines how much power is needed to pull air through the turbine.

Operators strive to keep the surrounding air cool to increase power and efficacy. Warm air is less dense than cold air and, in turn, reduces the power output and efficiency of the turbine when it goes through because there is less mass moving through the turbine. Cooler air moves more easily through a turbine, producing more energy at a lower cost.

However, gas turbines come with their own unique challenges when it comes to cooling. Gas turbines experience fluctuations in demand based on how much power grid users need at any given time. Hot summer days and winter freezes can cause the need for power generators to move gas turbines online quickly in order to prevent rolling outages or blackouts to the electric grid.

By introducing evaporative cooling technology and utilizing Kuul Control PowerGT, gas turbine generators can reduce their power use by moving air more efficiently through a turbine compared with traditional cooling systems. Evaporative cooling provides consistent temperatures — and consistent efficiency — throughout a powerplant, no matter how much the outside variables change.

Considerations when choosing evaporative media

It is important for gas turbine facility operators to choose evaporative cooling technology that features an effective, clean cooling, stronger, and longer-lasting evaporative media with low pressure drop. This will ensure that the gas turbines remain operational at high efficiency during on-demand up-time when power generation is needed most and will yield the lowest total cost of ownership.

For gas turbines at airflow velocity, Kuul Control PowerGT™ evaporative media meets efficiency standards and exceeds pressure drop requirements. The much lower air pressure drop allows for greater ventilation rates with less induction air pressure on intake. This translates into higher turbine efficiency and greater mass transfer of air. Having low-temperature, humid air at a higher airflow rate creates a more efficient cooling system and lower CO2 and NOx emissions.

It is important to note that fixed evaporative cooling is more energy-efficient and has lower rates of emissions than air conditioners. Air conditioners use refrigerants to remove heat and moisture from a space and take a lot of power to ramp up to a cooler temperature. Although fixed evaporative systems can be slightly more expensive to install, the day-to-day operations costs are drastically lower than standard air conditioning units. This constant upkeep causes air conditioners to be more costly in the long run. Fixed evaporative cooling typically requires less maintenance over the course of a year with proper care and water quality.

Check out our line of Kuul Control media expertly designed to withstand the harshest environment to see which option works best for your gas turbine cooling needs.