In anticipation of increased use of hydrogen as a means of decarbonizing future power generation used widely in combined heat and power plants, studies are underway to understand how hydrogen impacts operability and emissions from existing low emission gas turbines. In the current study, a full-scale annular combustor is used to study how added hydrogen to methane (as a proxy for natural gas) impacts lean blow-off limits. Of particular interest is understanding if hydrogen can be used strategically to extend low emissions operation at lower load. This would facilitate use of gas turbines to offset intermittent renewable power which is becoming increasing integrated into microgrid environments where combined heat and power system are prevalent. A combined experimental and numerical approach is taken. Tests were carried out at Southwest Research Institute using a full-scale annular combustor test rig at elevated temperatures and atmospheric pressure. The individual fuel injectors used were piloted injectors based on natural gas injectors used in practice. Various blends of hydrogen and methane were tested for different scaled load conditions and different pilot to main fuel splits. Besides identifying the overall equivalence ratio at blow-off, measurements also included temperature uniformity at the exit plane and imaging of the reaction. To complement and extend the study a chemical reactor network approach was also applied. The reactor network was initially validated on a prior study involving use of a piloted model combustor. The reactor network was applied to the current configuration and further tuned to align with the measured data. The agreement between the reactor network blow-off and measured blow-off was reasonable. The validated reactor network was then used in combination with a statistically designed simulation matrix to derive a design tool. The tool is then used to estimate other performance features including CO emissions near LBO and the impacts of ambient humidity and the presence of higher hydrocarbons typically found in natural gas. The design tool quantifies the extent to which hydrogen content and pilot percentage can extended part load operability for the full annular combustor system.

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