U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

SunShot Initiative

CSP Tower Air Brayton Combustor

SWRI logo Illustration with a horizontal pipe with a vertical pipe that highlights fuel injector tubes.

Conceptual combustor design that is optimized for inlet temperature range from 300°C (572°F) to 1,000°C (1,832°F) and low emissions.

The Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) and its partners, under the 2012 Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) SunShot R&D funding opportunity announcement (FOA), are developing an external combustor capable of operating at much higher temperatures than the current state-of-the-art technology.

Approach

This project addresses key technical hurdles for an optimized CSP central tower hybrid gas turbine system to increase energy conversion efficiency to greater than 50%, greatly reduce or eliminate CO2 emissions, and generate dispatchable power at full load regardless of the time of day or meteorological conditions.

The goals of the project are to:

  • Increase the CSP tower air-receiver and gas-turbine temperature capabilities to 1,000ºC by developing a novel gas-turbine combustor
  • Achieve the temperature increase at a reduced utility scale by emphasizing the effects of thermal cycling on hardware
  • Achieve extremely low emissions when using renewable fuels or natural gas, or zero emissions when the turbine system operates on solar energy only.

Innovation

This external combustor may be the first designed for a full megawatt-scale gas turbine that is integrated and optimized for CSP. The radically different design uses novel materials being developed specifically for this application. This technology, if successful, would also stretch industrial gas-turbine combustion systems beyond the operating limits of current combustion inlet materials. This megawatt-scaled combustion system could advance the state of the art from a current Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 3 (initial small-scale laboratory-size testing) to a full TRL6 (megawatt-scale prototype demonstration).

Publications, Patents, and Awards

At this time, this project does not have published articles, patents, or awards.

SunShot logo

The SunShot CSP R&D program seeks to accelerate progress toward the cost target of $0.06 per kilowatt-hour through novel and revolutionary research into CSP technologies. Learn about other DOE competitive awards for concentrating solar power research that are in progress.