The demand for flexible operation of stationary gas turbines, especially at part load, requires the simultaneous design for sufficient efficiency and life time. Both can be addressed by the secondary air system. The here applied concept modulates cooling air supply in off-design. Typically, a reduction of cooling air leads to higher efficiency but shorter turbine life time.

This paper presents investigations on such concepts, aiming for trade-offs between fuel burn and turbine blade life. The considered life time mechanisms are creep, which is dominant in rotor blades, and oxidation. In addition, the effects on emissions from the combustion are outlined. The reference gas turbine is a literature-based, generic gas turbine in the 300 MWpower output segment. Regarding cooling air control, the focus is on the first two stages of the four-stage turbine.

All simulations are performed by application of component zooming with an appropriate in-house tool: a previously introduced coupled model of the reference gas turbine that essentially connects gas turbine performance with a secondary air system network model. This coupled model is now extended with blade life evaluation and emission models.

The results contain trade-offs for different operating points at base and part load. For example, the combined cooling air control of stage 1 rotor blade and stage 2 vane offers several benefits regarding fuel consumption: saving up to Δwfuel,rel = 0.5% in the heat recovery’s kink point operation at 60 % of base load of a combined cycle application. This saving is at the expense of creep life. However, some operating points could even operate at higher blade temperatures in order to improve life regarding hot corrosion. Furthermore, generic sensitivities of controlled secondary air supply to cooling layers and hot gas ingestion at rim seals are discussed. Overall, the presented trades mark promising potentials of modulated secondary air system concepts from a technical point of view.

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