Combustion: A rapid exothermic process that delivers high-temperature products. But, let’s break that down.
Gas turbines generate power using pressurized air. The air is heated in a “combustor” and then it expands through the turbine. In turn, the turbine spins a generator that creates electricity. Another key part—the air compressor—is also powered by the turbine as it rests on the same shaft, pushing air into the combustion chamber. This whole combustion process is called the “Brayton Cycle”.
Efficient combustion is a key factor in gas turbine technology. Fuel-to-power benefits depend on operating temperatures; higher cycle temperatures makes for higher efficiency.
When maintained and modernized, combustion efficiency sustains much of the way we live, work, and play:
What is the science behind it all? Important combustion chemistry to know:
While fuel can have a great diversity of forms, the natural gas that powers gas turbines is burned for its chemical energy. But the combustion process can’t start without a reliable ignition. The fuel reaction in a flame chamber kicks off the whole cycle.
Important combustion machinery: put simply, a gas turbine is an air machine composed of three main parts …
There is a balance required between the fuel, the environment, and the machinery to ensure turbines are feeding off of combustion to the best of their ability.
Since higher temperature makes for higher efficiency, the expanding in power plant turbines can reach up to 2,300 °F. However, some of the metals they're made from can’t withstand temperatures above 1,500 °F.
Efficiency and sustainability go hand in hand. Rapid combustion does result in emissions, but as turbine technology progresses, GE engineers its future tech for lower carbon footprints. In addition:
Upkept and upgraded turbines help power plants keep their uptime. And understanding the ins and outs of combustion is part of that!
GE’s maintenance and repair services keep the turbines the world depends on in careful hands. With our experts pushing technologies to new capability, the future of combustion is burning bright.
It’s all connected, from understanding combustion to the science of steam power. Learn about the hidden ways generators run our world.
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