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Brayton%20Cycle - Brayton Cycle The Ideal Cycle for...

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Brayton Cycle: The Ideal Cycle for Gas-Turbine Engines In Relation to Power Plants By Denise Lane Preface: Power generation is an important issue today, especially on the West Coast. Demand is outweighing supply because of lack of incentives for the utilities industry to build additional power plants over the past 10-20 years. Electrical innovations (such as the personal computer) were not accounted for in earlier predictions of power utilization and, now, the country is in dire need of streamlining the current power plants while pushing through as many applications as possible for new power plants. In response to this situation, power generation engineers will be in high demand. These engineers must have a thorough understanding of thermodynamics and, in particular, the Brayton cycle. It is the backbone of power generation. In order to deepen knowledge of how the Brayton cycle is applied at power generation plants, an interview was conducted via e-mail with Brian Lawson, who has obtained the P.E. designation and is the Senior Mechanical Engineer for Sierra Pacific Power Company’s Tracy Power Generating Station. This station provides a total electrical power output of 454 MW and supplies the majority of the population in northern Nevada. The italicized questions and answers asked and obtained are integrated throughout the various topics to provide further insight and understanding for the beginning engineer entering the power generation field. Further, bolded words are defined in detail at the end of each paragraph. Brayton Cycle/Gas Turbine History: The basic gas turbine cycle is named for the Boston engineer, George Brayton, who first proposed the Brayton cycle around 1870. 1 Now, the Brayton cycle is used for gas turbines only where both the compression and expansion processes take place in rotating machinery. 2 John Barber patented the basic gas turbine in 1791. 3 The two major application areas of gas-turbine engines are aircraft propulsion and electric power generation. Gas turbines are used as stationary power plants to generate electricity as stand-alone units or in conjunction with steam power plants on the high-temperature side. In these plants, the exhaust gases serve as a heat source for the steam. Steam power plants are considered external-combustion engines, in which the combustion takes place outside the engine. The thermal energy released during this process is 1
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then transferred to the steam as heat.(2) The gas turbine first successfully ran in 1939 at the Swiss National Exhibition at Zurich. (3) The early gas turbines built in the 1940s and even 1950s had simple-cycle efficiencies of about 17 percent. This was because of low compressor and turbine efficiencies and low turbine inlet temperature due to metallurgical limitations at the time. The first gas turbine for an electric utility was installed in 1949 in Oklahoma as part of a combined-cycle power plant. It was built by General Electric and produced 3.5 MW of power.
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