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Energy Conversion & Management 40 (1999) 19171929

Thermoeconomic evaluation of the SCGT cycle

Andrea Corti*, Daniele Fiaschi, Giampaolo Manfrida
Dipartimento di Energetica `Sergio Stecco', University of Florence, Via Santa Marta, 3-50139, Firenze, Italy Received 28 October 1998; accepted 27 February 1999

Abstract The analysis of the SCGT (Semi-Closed Gas Turbine cycle) is extended to the treatment of acid condensation (sulphur compounds) at the exit of the separator (SEP), with reference to dierent possible congurations already studied from the thermodynamic and environmental points of view. This detailed analysis was considered necessary because the natural gas fuel can contain a small amount of H2S which, reacting with air, can form SO2 and nally sulphuric acid. This can represent a problem (mainly from the economic point of view) because of the possibility of sulphuric acid condensation at the exit of the separator, where the temperature can reach values below the acid dew point of the mixture. The data obtained from ENI publications were used for the natural gas composition, and a 0.005% H2S molar fraction was additionally hypothesized. With these assumptions, about 0.1% SO2 can be found in the exhaust gases at the separator inlet. Aspen Plus was used in order to evaluate the chemical eects of the acidity of the condensate produced in the separator. An evaluation about costs of the devices to be used for condensation of the recirculated ue gas humidity has been performed, considering use of the special materials necessary for reducing the aggressive eects of acid water condensation. A nal evaluation of the overall conversion system plant is also produced, showing the economic balance in terms of resulting cost of the unit of electrical energy produced and of inlet power in terms of fuel. The results are also evaluated in terms of CO2 emissions, considering the ratio between the global cost of the power generation plant and the global carbon dioxide emissions, compared to other types of energy conversion open cycle solutions. # 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

* Corresponding author: Tel.: +39-55-4796243; fax: +39-55-4796342. E-mail address: (A. Corti) 0196-8904/99/$ - see front matter # 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S 0 1 9 6 - 8 9 0 4 ( 9 9 ) 0 0 0 7 9 - 5


A. Corti et al. / Energy Conversion & Management 40 (1999) 19171929

1. Introduction The increasing greenhouse eects registered in the last century and recent decisions of international communities demonstrating the political willingness of taking eective measures aimed at their reduction [1] will raise, in the very near future, the interest of the power plant community to the study of advanced solutions for reducing CO2 emissions. With reference to the very near future, the semi-closed gas turbine cycles (SCGT) appear to be very interesting as a transition to dierent energy technologies which can be even more eective but still need consistent development, at least on a large scale (hydrogen fuel economy, renewables, nuclear fusion, F F F ). In the particular case of SCGTs operating with atmospheric base pressure, the development from existing commercial gas turbines is relatively simple, and a very short development time interval can be, thus, predicted. 2. Description and comparison of the SCGT/CC and SCGT/RE congurations The SCGT/CC and SCGT/RE cycle conguration have been described in previous works [2,68]. Here, only the basics are reported. The SCGT/CC (Fig. 1) resemblesapart from recirculation of the exhaust to the compressor inleta conventional combined open gas turbine cycle coupled with a two pressure level (+deaerator) Heat Recovery Steam Generator

Fig. 1. Schematic of the SCGT/CC plant with steam extraction for the CO2 absorption unit.

A. Corti et al. / Energy Conversion & Management 40 (1999) 19171929


(HRSG). Within the lower pressure turbine, a steam bleed (2 bars) is provided in order to extract the heat needed for the amine CO2 absorption unit. The introduction of the steam extraction (2 bars) to supply the heat needed for amine regeneration [3] leads to a penalty in eciency and power output for the SCGT/CC of about 4% and 10%, respectively, in comparison with congurations where no CO2 removal is considered. However, even under these last conditions, the SCGT/CC with current market gas turbines is capable of eciencies in the range of 50% and specic power outputs of the order of 550 kJ(kg/s) (referred to compressor ow rate). The regenerative-evaporative cycle (SCGT/RE, Fig. 2) is able to feed directly the amine regeneration unit without any sacrice of work output, since the gases leaving the regenerative heat exchanger still have a relatively high enthalpy. In this case, then, the plant performance is, in practice, not aected by the CO2 removal operation. Both SCGT schemes here considered have atmospheric base pressure: this means that a compressor is needed for nal disposal of the CO2, as compared to more advanced schemes using high base pressures for the cycle and allowing sequestration of CO2 as a liquid [13]. However, the fact that the base pressure is atmospheric allows using gas turbines which are strictly derived from today's commercial units with minor modications (mainly at the combustion chamber level). The gas turbine operating data considered for the two cycle congurations correspond to those of the LM501F gas turbine, jointly developed by Mitsubishi and Westinghouse, a heavy duty gas turbine well suited for operation with combined cycles. The basic data are reported in

Fig. 2. Schematic of the SCGT/RE plant.


A. Corti et al. / Energy Conversion & Management 40 (1999) 19171929

Table 1. Alteration of the pressure ratio was considered possible in the range from b=10 to b=20. The performance maps for the SCGT/CC and the SCGT/RE are shown in Fig. 3. The regenerative solution without HRSG oers interesting levels of power and eciency, however, this last is 1% lower than the combined cycle over the whole eld. The optimizing gas turbine pressure ratio is higher for the SCGT/CC (b=18, which is about 10% lower than the optimising value considering pure methane as fuel) than for the SCGT/RE regenerative evaporative cycle which shows a relatively low optimization point (b=10, unaected by operation on true natural gas) in line with the typical values of conventional open cycles. From the point of view of specic power, the SCGT/RE performance is typically 40 kJ/kg lower than that of the SCGT/CC. However, the regenerative evaporative cycle is better suited for small applications where the size of the Regenerative Heat Exchanger (RHE) is limited.
Table 1 Main operating parameters of SCGT/CC and SCGT/RE cycles SCGT/CC Pressure ratio (reference value) Maximum cycle temperature [8C] Compressor mass ow rate [kg/s] Turbine mass ow rate [kg/s] Turbine coolant mass ow rate [kg/s] Fresh air mass ow rate [kg/s] Recirculated gas mass ow rate [kg/s] Stack mass ow rate [kg/s] Fuel mass ow rate [kg/s] Mass fraction of CO2 at the stack [%] Mass fraction of N2 at the stack [%] Mass fraction of O2 at the stack [%] Mass fraction of H2O at the stack [%] Mass fraction of SO2 at the stack [%] Mass fraction of He at the stack [%] SEP condensed water ow rate [kg/s] SEP coolant ow rate [kg/s] HRSG high pressure steam production [kg/s] HRSG low pressure steam production [kg/s] 2 bars steam extraction ow rate [kg/s] Gas turbine power output [MW] Steam turbine power output [MW] Cycle power output [MW] Gas turbine eciency [%] Overall Cycle eciency [%] Gas turbine exhausts temperature [8C] RHE hot side exhausts temperature [8C] RHE cold side inlet temperature [8C] RHE cold side exhausts temperature [8C] Cycle specic consumption [kJ/kWh] CO2 separation eciency 14 1349 440.2 450.4 70.25 179.5 260.7 179.4 10.21 15.13 76.95 1.639 6.271 0.000111 0.000741 10.35 440.4 71.31 8.74 50.06 168.1 74.00 240.2 34.44 49.59 625.4 7258 80% SCGT/RE 14 1349 440.2 478.1 58.48 164.8 275.4 174.4 9.59 14.61 72.67 1.089 11.63 0.000107 0.000716 28.31 664.8 222.9 222.9 48.64 48.64 637.4 308.9 192.0 597.4 7398 80%

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Fig. 3. Maps of performance of SCGT/CC and SCGT/RE.

Moreover, the suppression of the HRSG and of the whole bottoming cycle leads to a simpler plant conguration with simplied operation and lower capital costs for small and medium size plants (in the range from 5 to 60 MW power output). Fig. 4 shows, for both plant options, the sensitivity of the eciency to the heat QRCO2 required by the CO2 removal unit: the eciency of the regenerative evaporative solution

Fig. 4. Plant eciency vs thermal request for CO2 removal.


A. Corti et al. / Energy Conversion & Management 40 (1999) 19171929

decreases rapidly with augmenting QRCO2, rendering optimization of the amine absorption sectionin terms of heat demand for amine regenerationcritical in this case for reaching a good overall cycle performance. However, the heat needed for CO2 removal is easily provided by the exhaust gas leaving the RHE without any reduction of the SCGT/RE power output, at least for low and medium heat requests (the exhaust gas leaving the RHE is well above 3008C, as reported in Table 1). When the heat needed for the amine regeneration is high, a decrease in the regeneration level is required (this can be easily obtained by reducing the RHE surface (and consequently, its eectiveness) and/or by increasing the pressure ratio, which implies, however, a signicant decrease in eciency with respect to the combined cycle solution). The combined eects of RHE minimum temperature dierence and pressure ratio are shown in Fig. 5. 3. Cycle compatibility with natural gas: sulfur content of the natural gas All simulations discussed above consider a reference natural gas as the fuel. In previous works [2,68], the fuel considered for cycle simulation was pure methane CH4, since the study was aimed at a preliminary evaluation of performance and at comparison with existing open cycle gas turbine power plant congurations. Using pure methane, no problems of acid condensation can occur at the cold exhaust ends of the plant, such as the stack and SEP. In practice, natural gas has a small content of sulfur which forms SO2 during the combustion and, nally, contributes to the formation of H2SO4 by reaction with the water vapor of the gases in oxidizing conditions: in the cold sections of the plant, such as in the exhaust gases water condenser (SEP, Fig. 1), the temperature could, thus, fall below the dew point (considering a solution of sulfuric acid in water), causing serious corrosion problems. This

Fig. 5. Eciency of SCGT/RE cycles with variable pressure ratio and QRCO2.

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implies the choice of expensive materials, such as stainless steel, which aects the capital costs of the semi-closed cycle conguration with respect to traditional solutions where the SEP is not present. The chemical composition of the reference natural gas was evaluated by a weighted mean between the compositions of the main Italian natural gas providers (national, Russia, Holland and Algeria) in 1993 [15], which is summarized in Table 2. In the absence of direct data, a volumetric content of 0.00052 H2S in the average natural fuel gas composition was also estimated, using the emission factor assumed as reference in the CORINAIR data base for natural gas fueled gas turbines (0.0075 mg/m3, [5]). All H2S was considered converted to SO2 at the stack. A detailed study of the water separator (SEP) was conducted because of concern about acid dew point conditions. The amount of water condensed in the SEP is large because of the low process temperature necessary to limit the decrease in compressor eciency due to temperatures much higher than reference (ISO) conditions. Recirculation increases corrosion problems, as the concentration of acid species, even if originally very low, is subject to an increase if no correcting measures are taken (gas treatment in the cold section). A specic model was developed using ASPEN Plus to consider this eect; ASPEN Plus does not allow simulating the acid gas modication of the condensing temperature, but considering the low temperature level, it is possible to use simple vapour tables in order to evaluate the condensed water ow rate. The amount of water produced inside the recirculated ue gas cooler was then used in the model as a liquid inlet of an absorption unit, where the cooled gas ow passed countercurrent with respect to the water. This scheme can simulate, with a safety margin, the acidication process which occurs to the condensate inside the cooler. As a result, a high acidity of the condensate was calculated from the ASPEN Plus model, based on the assumed fuel and on the ue gas conditions shown in Table 2, with a pH value of about 3.8. Even if this result is conservative, it is possible that under real operating conditions, small quantities of additivescompatible with gas turbine operationshould be added to control the acidity of the recirculated gas.
Table 2 Composition of natural fuel gas from the main countries Italy Provided amount [Billions of m3] Natural gas composition CH4 [% molar fraction] C2H6 [% molar fraction] C3H8 [% molar fraction] C4H10 [% molar fraction] C5H12 [% molar fraction] C6H14 [% molar fraction] CO2 [% molar fraction] N2 [% molar fraction] He [% molar fraction] 18.7 99.62 0.06 0.02 0.01 0 0.01 0.02 0.26 0 Holland 5.4 91.01 3.7 0.88 0.28 0.07 0.07 1.11 2.84 0.04 Russia 13.3 98.07 0.6 0.22 0.09 0.01 0.02 0.11 0.87 0.01 Algeria 13.9 83.28 7.68 2.05 0.78 0.21 0.11 0.19 5.52 0.18 93.89 2.647 0.7122 0.2677 0.06685 0.04599 0.2038 2.114 0.05557 Average composition


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4. Conguration of the amine CO2 absorption plant Among the dierent carbon dioxide separation systems, absorption by means of blended amines in aqueous solution was selected as the most promising in terms of commercial feasibility. With respect to open cycle gas turbines, the semi-closed congurations (both SCGT/ CC and SCGT/RE) benet of an increased concentration of CO2 at the stack (exceeding 15% in mass) and in a lower overall stack ow rate. This renders amine absorption very attractive from the point of view of economics. The basic scheme (Fig. 6) for a carbon dioxide separation plant consists in two separate columns for absorption and desorption (stripping) of CO2 so that continuous solution regeneration can be achieved. A temperature dierence of 40508C between the two stages allows obtaining good levels of regeneration of the solution; while a regenerative heat exchanger in the cold ow exiting from the absorber allows reducing energy demands for CO2 desorption. Amines in aqueous solution react with CO2 in the ue gases to form new compounds which subtract CO2 from the liquid phase, improving mass transfer in the liquid phase. The amines here considered are monoethanolamine (MEA), diethanolamine (DEA) and methyldiethanolamine (MDEA). MEA is the most reactive compound, but its use leads to the formation of relatively stable carbamates. DEA is less reactive than MEA, but it forms a less stable compound and has a similar loading capacity. MDEA does not react directly with CO2, but it works as a catalyser in its reaction with water. Its loading capacity reaches 1 mol of CO2 per mol of MDEA, but its reactivity is lower than that of the other amines here considered.

Fig. 6. Schematic of the CO2 absorption unit.

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The use of blended solutions can produce relevant benets, joining together the high reactivity of the primary and secondary amines with the low energy requirement for regeneration of tertiary types. The optimal blend of amines is strictly connected to the design of the power plant, with special reference to the heat recovery system for the stripping unit of the DeCO2, depending also on the parameter of optimization selected (lower energy consumption or lower solution mass ow rate). The sensitivity study on carbon dioxide separation was performed using the ASPEN Plus chemical simulator, which is able to simulate the reaction of absorption in the liquid phase of carbon dioxide in the case of using amines in solution with water. Operating on atmospheric pressure conditions, blends of DEA and MDEA were preferred to MEA and MDEA because this choice allows simultaneously a lower energy consumption and a lower solution mass ow rate [3]. Among blends of Diethanolamines and methyldietalonamines, a variable composition range was investigated, with the DEA mass fraction in the aqueous solution from 12% to 30%, and the MDEA mass fraction covering, on the whole, 30% content of amines. 5. Performance of the CO2 removal plant (SCGT/CC) Having identied the DEA,MDEA solutions as the most interesting from both points of view of the solution mass ow rate and energy demand, the choice of the blend which provides the best results was based on the overall SCGT/CC cycle integrated with the amine blend absorption unit performance evaluation. Only the SCGT/CC was considered in this study, as this solution is more appropriate for

Fig. 7. Solution mass ow variation with respect to DEA mass fraction.


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large power plants and also oers a better performance (at least for QRCO2 larger than 4000 kJ/ kgCO2, Fig. 4). The evaluation and comparison of the several SCGT/CC solutions was accomplished by referring to a xed target of CO2 emissions referred to unit energy produced (70 g/kWh, this value corresponds to an absorption removal eciency above 80%). This is a very low emission factor of carbon dioxide with respect to the SCGT/CC simple cycle (360.8 g/kWh) and even lower if compared to the emission factors quoted for the IGCC (630.1 g/kWh, [14]). The performance estimate for the dierent plant congurations here examined disregards other auxiliary thermal and electrical energy consumptions. The rst parameter considered for optimal plant performance is the solution mass ow rate of the aqueous blend of amines which should be minimised. To this end, the results obtained (Fig. 7) allow determining an optical composition corresponding to an aqueous solution of 23% DEA and 7% MDEA (mass fraction). In Fig. 8, the dependence of the thermodynamic net eciency of the SCGT/CC plant on the composition of the amine solution is reported. In this case, an optimum point (maximum eciency) corresponding to a blend of 18% DEA and 12% MDEA with a cycle eciency of about 49.17% (CO2 separation eciency of 83.39%) can be easily identied. 6. Economic evaluation of SCGT/CC with DECO amine unit

The performance study with dierent blends of amines was repeated from the point of view of the economic balance of the integrated SCGT/CC based on a 501F-derived gas turbine with a carbon dioxide separation unit. The economical analysis on the plant used available (utility based) cost data for the SCGT/

Fig. 8. SCGT/CC thermodynamic net eciency with DEA content mass fraction.

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CC power plant section [2]. For the carbon dioxide separation unit, ASPEN Plus economic evaluation data and routines were used, with specic data obtained from Sulzer#, Alfa-Laval# and Ilmed Impianti#, for the absorbing and stripping beds, heat exchangers and cooling towers. As for operation costs, two additional personnel units per year were considered necessary with respect to a conventional combined cycle of similar size, considering the added complexity of the amine separation plant. An investment time of 15 years and a construction time of one year were considered with an investment rate of 12%. Unit feedstock costs were assumed at 2.80 US$/GJ for natural gas, 1.143 US$/kg for amines and 0.229 US$/t for process water. For the absorption plant, a capital cost of about 130 US$/kW (specic cost referred to power output) was obtained. This value correlates well with published data [912]. The evaluation process evidenced a strong variability of costs on the market price of amines. A possibility of cost reduction is to increase the recycle of amines exiting the plant blow-down. In the present case study, this ow rate was about 0.3% of the global solution ow rate at the stripper outlet. In Fig. 9, some results of the accounting in terms of additional costs per unit energy produceddue to the presence of carbon dioxide separationare presented for dierent blends of amines. For estimation of the overall cost of energy in the integrated energy conversion cycle with the absorption amine unit, a 501F SCGT/CC base specic cost of 0.034 US$/kWh was considered (overall power output of 258.3 MW [4]). The results of these evaluations are reported on Fig. 10. An optimal economic operating conguration is found for 23% DEA and 7% MDEA with an energy cost of 57.72 mill/kWh, which corresponds to a percentage increment with respect to the base cost of electricity of about 70%. The optimum point obtained for the economic evaluation (in practice, both for additional

Fig. 9. Energy specic additional costs due to carbon dioxide separation unit (mill$/kWh).


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Fig. 10. Energy production overall specic costs 501FSCGT/CC plus CO2 separation unit (mill$/kWh).

costs of CO2 absorptionFig. 9or for overall costs of energy production+CO2 separation Fig. 10) corresponds closely to that of minimising the ow rate of the absorbant mixture (Fig. 7). An estimate of the additional cost for purication (99.5% purity), liquefaction, transport and storage of the carbon dioxide separated from the ue gases was estimated at 5.37 mills/ kWh referring to published data [9]. This is an additional constant, which does not depend on optimization of the plant or of the CO2 absorption section. Therefore, it was not added in Fig. 10, but it should be considered for nal decision making.

7. Conclusions The semi-closed gas turbine cycle proposed for containing carbon dioxide emissions has a relatively simple plant conguration and operating parameter typical of current technology level equipment. It allows industrial development to start from existing equipment with only minor modications. The performance level is very interesting for both the SCGT/CC and SCGT/RE congurations (eciency close to 50%, power output higher than 500 kJ/kg), taking into account that the cycle can self sustain the CO2 removal process. The use of natural gas fuel instead of pure methane does not imply important variation of the cycle performance with respect to the results obtained and reported in previous works by the authors. However, the introduction of a small fraction of SO2 in the fuel gas composition can raise the acidity level of the gas leaving the SEP heat exchange/condenser. The SCGT/CC provides better values of performance when used with large heavy duty turbomachines (such as the LM501F here considered), so an economical evaluation including the CO2 removal process was done for this conguration.

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The analysis of the SCGT/CC with integrated CO2 removal plant was performed for evaluation of the process and costs parameters, dierent blends of amines were tested (using blends of DEA and MDEA), which were more economical and eective with respect to MEA and the CO2 removal capability always exceeds 80%. The study showed the existence of an optimization point conguration for the system, corresponding to a solution formed by a 23% mass fraction of DEA and 7% of MDEA. For this optimal solution, an overall electrical energy production cost about 70% higher than the base SCGT/CC without any carbon dioxide removal unit (about 0.034 US$/kWh) has been found, taking into account the extra cost due to carbon dioxide separation and the related reduction of energy production, mainly due to the stripping unit. References
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