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Applied Thermal Engineering 70 (2014) 61e70

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Performance of a biomass fueled two-stage micro gas turbine (MGT)

system with hot air production heat recovery unit
K.A. Al-attab, Z.A. Zainal*
Universiti Sains Malaysia, School of Mechanical Engineering, Engineering Campus, 14300 Nibong Tebal, Seberang Perai Selatan, Penang, Malaysia

h i g h l i g h t s
 Biomass fueled combined heat and power micro gas turbine system was developed.
 Producer gas was derived from biomass using pressurized gasication process.
 Pressurized producer gas combustion was simulated and tested experimentally.
 Pressurized producer gas was used for micro gas turbine ring.
 Two turbochargers with low speed generator were used as the micro gas turbine.

a r t i c l e i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:
Received 28 January 2014
Accepted 12 April 2014
Available online 22 April 2014

A two-stage micro gas turbine (MGT) with low speed generator was developed to operate fully on
producer gas (PG) from a pressurized downdraft gasier without any auxiliary fossil fuel. It is an efcient
and environment friendly system for hot air production for any industrial drying process. For the Low
heating value PG combustion, a pressurized cyclone combustor (PCC) was designed and optimized using
computational uid dynamics simulation. The system was characterized experimentally with liqueed
petroleum gas (LPG) and PG fuels in dual-fuel mode and then with pressurized PG in single-fuel mode.
The system as a combined heat and power (CHP) has achieved an overall efciency of about 58% with
35 kWth hot air production as thermal output of the system.
2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Cyclone combustor
Low heating value gas
Downdraft gasier
Micro gas turbine

1. Introduction
Biomass such as agricultural and urban wastes is an important
type of renewable energy fuel sources especially in Malaysia with
agriculture as her main economy. For off-grid rural areas, diesel
generation sets were the most used methods for power generation.
However, price of diesel fuel and its transportation cost has to be
considered. Small scale biomass fueled internal combustion (IC)
engine power sets are becoming more popular due to availability of
biomass fuels. For these systems, biomass fuels are converted into
low HV gas fuel known as producer gas (PG) via gasication process. The gas is then cooled and cleaned to remove tar and particles
prior to be used in IC engines. One of the disadvantages of using IC
engines with biomass is the high maintenance cost of the cleaning
systems. Similar issue goes for gas turbine engines where the gas is
cooled and cleaned rst and then introduced into the turbine.
* Corresponding author. Tel.: 60 4 5937788; fax: 60 4 5941025.
E-mail addresses:,, (Z.A. Zainal).
1359-4311/ 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


This study proposes a novel small scale biomass fueled micro

gas turbine combined heat and power (CHP) system using a low
cost hot cleaning of PG produced from a pressurized downdraft
gasier. Particles are separated from the gas using an insulated
cyclone separator and then the hot PG is injected into a combustor
without any further cleaning. Pressurizing the gasier eliminates
the necessity to compress the PG before the combustor. Additional
to the thermal power gained from the hot gas, tar content in the
gas remains in vapor form until all tar is completely burned inside
the combustor. Thus, a clean combustion product is introduced into
the turbine. A two-stage micro gas turbine (MGT) engine was
developed in this study using low cost two vehicular turbochargers
connected to a low speed generator through a speed reduction
Most of studies on the biomass fueled MGT are using computer
simulation for different MGT cycle congurations. The benets of
using small scale biomass fueled MGT as a distributed power plant
has been investigated [1]. Combining biomass fueled MGT with
solid oxide fuel cell technology have been widely investigated as
well [2e5].


K.A. Al-attab, Z.A. Zainal / Applied Thermal Engineering 70 (2014) 61e70


biomass integrated gasier combined cycle

computational uid dynamics
combined heat and power
specic heat at constant pressure (J/Kg K)
distributed generation
equivalence ratio
heating value
higher heating value (J/m3)
heat recovery unit
internal combustion
lower heating value (J/m3)

However, for medium and large scale axial gas turbines, a wide
range of studies have been conducted. Large scale CHP systems [6]
and biomass integrated gasier combined cycle (BIGCC) [7,8] are
attractive alternatives due to high thermal efciency, economical
competitiveness and low green house gas emissions. Also, the
possibility of co-ring biomass with other fossil fuels like coal or
natural gas into existing large scale power plants is an attractive
option to avoid modications to the turbine engines [9,10].
Combining biomass integrated gasication and combined cycle
(BIGCC) with other congurations like co-ring [11e13] or with
internal combustion engines [14] have also been investigated.
Cyclone gasier has been used for direct ring of PG. Cyclone
gasier uses biomass with size less than 600 mm, and has the
advantage of particle removal in the gasier itself [15,16]. However,
circulating uidized bed gasiers with tar cracking as well as
pressurized bubbling uidized bed gasiers with ceramic hot
cleaning units [17e19] are more commonly used in gas turbine
The main concern in PG combustion is the relatively higher gas
ow associated with lower burning velocity and heat generation
compared to higher caloric value gas fuels. Thus, PG combustion
requires special design for the combustor to provide high air-gas
mixing quality with long residence time for complete combustion. There are numerous combustor designs for low HV gases. A
small scale three-stage axial ow atmospheric combustor with a
simulated PG was investigated [20]. Another combustor design has
been studied for low HV gas fuel powered turbine using multiple
radial ow inlets for air and fuel in a multi-chamber [21]. A similar
design with multiple air/fuel radial ow inlets but also equipped
with a pre-chamber tted with swirler vanes for better mixing has
been studied [22].
The other approach to PG fuel combustion is to modify existing
turbine combustors to be suitable for low HV fuel combustion.
Charles and Neilson [23] have studied the modications on a
commercial gas turbine (LM2500PH) for a 30 MW biomass cogeneration power facility.
Cyclone combustors have been studied in a wide range of designs
for coal combustion [24] and also co-ring coal with biomass [25]
because these combustors can handle high amounts of unburned
fuel and ash particles. The use of cyclone combustors for PG derived
from coal gasication process has been investigated as well [26].
Syred et al. [27,28] have investigated the use of cyclone gasier
with an atmospheric non-premixed cyclone combustor for PG
combustion. Another experimental study has been conducted [29]
to investigate a two-stage, rice husk atmospheric non-premixed
vortex combustor.


liqueed petroleum gas mass

ow rate (kg/s)
micro gas turbine
number of measurement repetition at same conditions
for error analysis
pressurized cyclone combustor
probability density function
producer gas
part per million
Reynolds stress model
temperature (K)
turbine inlet temperature
temperature difference

The use of watereair mixture as the working uid to enhance

turbine efciency and reduce NOx emissions has been investigated
[30] with direct and external ring. Wide range of proposed and
implemented humidied gas turbine cycles have been reviewed
Interest in small scale distributed generation (DG) with its
advantage over centralized generation has recently increased in
several countries [32,33]. IC engines, MGT and wind turbine are the
main candidates for the DG technology. This study offers a low cost
turbocharger based MGT with 100% PG renewable energy that is
based as well on a simple, space efcient and low cost downdraft
The current study proposes a tangential ow into a cyclonic
chamber with a tangential outlet. The air/fuel premixing method
can improve the ame stability, especially for PG fuel, by eliminating introduction of cold air into the chamber that can quench
the ame. For turbine applications, pressurized combustion is
required. The common method is to use a pressurized uidized bed
combustor. However, a pressurized cyclone combustor is presented
here as an alternative for turbine power systems fueled by biomass.
For small scale radial ow MGT, there is a lack of experimental
studies on direct red MGT with PG fuel. Rabou et al. [34] has
investigated experimentally the use of dual fuel (PG and natural
gas) to fuel a 30 kWe single-stage Capston MGT coupled with a high
speed generator. PG is cooled, cleaned and then compressed and
injected into a combustor along with natural gas.
Novelty key elements in this study can be summarized as

Total premixed combustion of biomass derived low HV gases.

Using pressurized downdraft gasier for gas turbine application.
Pressurized cyclonic combustion for gas turbine application.
Experimental test of a micro gas turbine (MGT) red with a
pressurized cyclone combustor.
 Implementation of a low-cost two stage turbocharger as MGT
for biomass power applications.

2. System description
A small-scale pressurized cyclone combustor (PCC), along with a
two-stage, turbocharger-based micro gas turbine system, was
designed and fabricated as shown in Fig. 1. The system is a standalone combined heat and power (CHP) unit for hot air production
that can be used for drying processes in small industries. The PCC is
designed for low HV gas combustion using PG fuel derived from

K.A. Al-attab, Z.A. Zainal / Applied Thermal Engineering 70 (2014) 61e70


Fig. 1. The two-stage MGT-CHP system: 1 e gasier; 2 e cyclone separator; 3 e PG ow meter; 4 e PCC; 5 e MGT; 6 e HRU; 7 e electrical load; 8 e control panel; 9 e oil pump.

biomass via a gasication process. The system can be operated,

based on fuel conguration, in two different modes:
 First mode: LPG and PG dual fuel mode. In this mode, the gasier
is operated atmospherically using low pressure air blower. Both
air and PG are premixed and drawn by the rst-stage MGT
compressor. LPG is injected to the PGeair stream before introducing the gas mixture to the PCC. In this mode, the MGT was
not able to sustain the speed with 100% PG. Fig. 2 shows a
schematic drawing of the MGT system in dual fuel mode.
 Second mode: 100% PG mode. The downdraft gasier in this
mode is pressurized up to 0.11 MPa (all pressure values are
gauge pressure) using high pressure air blowers. Pressurized PG
is then injected into the air stream after the MGT compressor,
and the airePG mixture is introduced into the PCC. Fig. 3 shows
a schematic drawing of the MGT with 100% PG mode. This paper
concentrated mainly on the system performance in this mode

2.1. Gasication unit

A 150 kW downdraft gasier was used to provide low HV producer gas fuel for the combustor. It is an air-blown downdraft
gasier with two operation modes: atmospheric and pressurized
modes. A small, 750 W air blower was used for the atmospheric
operation mode. The other is the pressurized mode, were at high
pressure air-blown pressurized the air up to 0.11 MPa maximum
pressure. Two ring-type high pressure air blowers of 7.5 & 5.5 kW
were connected in series to provide air pressure and ow rate in the
range of 0.5 to 0.1 MPa and 20e70 m3/h, respectively. Biomass fuel
used for the experiments was off-cut furniture wood blocks with a
maximum length of about 15 cm. Air is preheated in an air jacket
covering the whole gasier height for minimal thermal loses. The
gasier was designed with a double throat of 350 & 150 mm in
diameter, allowing for a wider range of output power. PG passes
through the throats below the combustion zone before it exits the
gasier. High temperature at the throat provides good tar cracking,

Fig. 2. Schematic drawing of the MGT system for dual-fuel mode.


K.A. Al-attab, Z.A. Zainal / Applied Thermal Engineering 70 (2014) 61e70

Fig. 3. Schematic drawing of the MGT system for PG single-fuel mode.

which signicantly reduces the amount of tar in the PG. The hot gas
cleaning unit consists of an insulated cyclone separator for particle
2.2. Pressurized cyclone combustor (PCC)
PCC is an insulated combustor with a tangential inlet at the
bottom for the air/fuel mixture and a tangential outlet at the top of
the combustor. It was fabricated using 3 mm mild steel sheet lined
with 100 mm thick refractory cement. The refractory cement at the
top of the PCC is 200 mm thick. In the non-premixed low HV gas
fuel combustion, cold air entering the combustor can quench the
ame and reduce the combustion temperature. However, air-fuel
premixing provides more stable combustion at the inlet of the
combustor and eliminates the requirement for a ame holder.
The PCC was designed and optimized using FLUENT 6 CFD
simulation program. The optimum design is to provide enough
residence time for complete combustion of airePG mixture of
0.05 kg/s and 20% ow rate and excess air respectively. The PG fuel
specications were based on earlier experiments by Zainal et al.
[35] for rubber wood gasication in a downdraft gasier with
higher heating value (HHV) of about 5 MJ/Nm3.
Simulation modeling was based on three-dimensional partially
premixed combustion model with low Reynolds stress model
(RSM), P1 radiation model and probability density function (PDF) to
dene the PG fuel and oxidizer species. For the inner refractory
cement walls of the chamber, emissivity was set to be 0.65 at high
temperature (about 1400  C) as reported in Omega literature data
base [36]. Tangential outlet of the PCC was found to be more suitable for turbine applications than axial outlet [37].
Different combustor diameters were compared from 10 cm to
25 cm with combustor heights of 50 cm and 60 cm for each
diameter. For complete combustion with low CO emission, the
optimum height and diameter of the combustor were 25 cm and
50 cm respectively. However, with higher ow rates, CO emission
can increase; therefore, additional removable height extensions of
10 cm and 20 cm were fabricated in order to cover wider range
of ow rates. More details about the PCC design was reported by Alattab and Zainal [37].

2.3. Micro gas turbine (MGT)

A small-scale, two-stage MGT engine was designed based on
two automotive turbochargers. In earlier development of MGT, a
small turbocharger, IHI-RHB32 with turbine wheel diameter of
36 mm was used for the rst-stage based on the air ow rate that
the compressor could provide to match the PCC design. For the
second-stage MGT, a larger turbocharger: HOLSET-H1C with turbine wheel diameter of 70 mm was used. Since, the rst-stage has
to operate at maximum speed to produce considerable output
power, it was replaced with a MITSUBISHI-TD05 turbocharger with
turbine wheel diameter of 56 mm. It operates at about 60% of its
speed at the current test conguration and provides more exibility
for any further power scale up. Because both turbochargers used in
this study have journal bearings, an additional lubrication unit was
required to provide pressurized oil for lubricating and cooling of
the MGT bearings. The lubrication unit consists of a vehicular oil
gear pump coupled with a 750 W electrical motor, an oil lter, and
natural convection copper oil cooler.
The compressor wheel of the second-stage MGT was replaced
with a pulley in order to connect the turbine to a low speed
3000 rev/min generator through one-stage speed reduction pulley
unit with a speed reduction ratio of 10.8. The earlier V-belt was
replaced with a 5 PK micro-V belt that is far more stable at high
speeds and provides more grip. Also, the micro-V belt type can
operate on 1-inch pulley and that reduces the second pulley
diameter signicantly.
The second-stage MGT along with a speed reduction unit and a
generator were tested with a frictional dynamometer to determine
the power required to drive them at the normal operation speed of
the generator (i.e. 3000 rev/min at 220 V and 50 Hz). The design of
the second-stage MGT bearings was based on total oating journal
bearings for high speed operation. However, the turbine shaft in
this case is subjected to a vertical load of the speed reduction belt,
resulting in high frictional lose of about 1.3 kW. Therefore, the
turbocharger bearings housing and the turbine shaft were modied
in order to replace the journal bearing at the pulley side with two
ball bearings. The modied second-stage MGT with one journal
bearing and two ball bearings has shown a signicant drop in the

K.A. Al-attab, Z.A. Zainal / Applied Thermal Engineering 70 (2014) 61e70

frictional losses; hence, only 0.9 kW was required to run the MGT
along with the generator at 3000 rev/min.
For the electrical power output, a 1 kWe electrical load station
that consists of 10 lamps of 100 W was used to vary the load on the
2.4. Heat recovery unit (HRU)
Thermal power output contributes signicantly to the turbine
systems overall output. High effectiveness shell and tube counterow heat exchanger was designed using the -NTU method to
recover about 86% of the MGT exhaust thermal power. Thermal
power was converted into 50 kWth of hot air that can be used for
industrial process such as drying. 100 annular counter ow tubes
per pass (two pass design) were used in order to minimize the
required surface area compared to the single shell design
commonly used in shell-tube heat exchangers.
3. Experiment setup and procedure
The discussion in this paper will concentrate mainly on MGT
system performance with pressurized PG in a single fuel mode. The
experimental rig consists of: pressurized downdraft gasier,
cyclone separator, PCC, two-stage MGT with low speed generator,
1kWe electrical load and HRU. System lay out for this rig is shown
earlier in Fig. 3.
Twelve type-K thermocouples of 5 mm thickness were installed
at different parts of the system as shown earlier in Fig. 3. A detailed
PCC drawing including thermocouple positions and build materials
are shown in Fig. 4. A 50LPM ow meter and 0.2 MPa pressure
gauge were used for ow and pressure measurement of LPG,
respectively. While a high temperature vortex ow meter and
0.1 MPa pressure gauge were used for PG ow rate and pressure
measurement, respectively. A hot-wire anemometer was used for
measuring the air ow rate. A pressure gauge (0.2 MPa) was placed
at the outlet of the MGT compressor in order to determine the
pressure inside the combustor. A pressure gauge (0.4 MPa) was
used to monitor the turbine lubrication oil pressure. Four differential pressure gauges of 0.01 MPa, 0.1 MPa, 0.05 MPa and 0.01 MPa

were used to determine the pressure drop across the PCC, rststage MGT, second-stage MGT and HRU respectively.
The MGT has two separate shafts for the rst and second stages;
therefore, the electrical generator could not be used as a startup
motor. Instead a 0.75 kW air blower was used for MGT startup
process. A spark plug was used as LPG fuel igniter, and then an air
blower was used to rotate the rst-stage shaft at a low speed for
about ve minutes for the MGT warm-up process. For two-stage
design, high back pressure caused by the second stage could not
gain enough speed for the compressor to build up the pressure and
draw more air for the combustion. This can result in a back-ame
out of the second stage turbine due to lack of oxygen in the
combustor. To solve this problem, a pneumatic bypass valve to
ambient was used to release the pressure after the rst-stage MGT
for startup process. When the air pressure at the compressor outlet
reached a pressure of about 0.04 MPa, the rst-stage turbine could
provide enough power for the compressor to sustain the speed, and
the startup blower valve can then be closed. The rst-stage MGT
pressure of 0.04 MPa was enough to cause a generator over speed.
Thus, some electrical load should always be applied to maintain
constant voltage in the range of 220 Ve240 V. Varying the electrical
output load could be achieved by changing the LPG ow rate or by
changing the PG pressure in the case of PG single-mode operation.
The air ow control valve at the compressor inlet played a major
role in turbine stability. Higher amount of excess air caused instability in the combustion with a temperature drop in the combustor
and turbine. On the other hand, reducing the air ow rate beyond
the fuel combustion stoichiometric condition would cause a ame
4. System performance
Biomass fueled MGT system performance will be discussed according to the individual performance of each unit in the system,
followed by overall system performance.
4.1. Gasier performance
The downdraft gasier was characterized for different PG output
ow rates in the range of 50 m3/h to 200 m3/h for atmospheric
operation. The optimum output ow rate was found to be around
100 m3/h with average PG HHV and LHV of about 4.6 and 4.45 MJ/
m3, respectively, as shown in Fig. 5. Air/fuel equivalence ratio (ER) is
one of the most important variables to evaluate the performance of
gasiers, and it can be calculated from Equation (1):


Fig. 4. Schematic drawing of the PCC.



Fig. 5. PG high heating value for different ow rates.



K.A. Al-attab, Z.A. Zainal / Applied Thermal Engineering 70 (2014) 61e70

The gasier operates at highest heating value with equivalence

ratio of about 0.35 as shown in Fig. 6. Pressurizing the gasier up to
0.1 MPa pressure has shown slight elevation in HHV up to 5.2 MJ/m3
with average composition of about 21% CO, 16% H2 and 1.3% CH4.

4.2. Cyclone separator performance

The average amount of particles collected by the cyclone separator at PG ow rate of 40e50 m3/h was about 250 mg/kg biomass.
The moisture content of the collected particles was about 5%. Using
the ash formation procedures recommended by ASTM standards
(D2974-87) [38] carbon concentration in particles collected by the
cyclone separator was found to be about 64% of the total weigh. Ash
composition was carried out using x-ray diffraction XRD-D8 instrument (Bruker AXS), and shown in Table 1 with and without the
inclusion of carbon.
The main elements that can cause hot corrosion of turbine
blades are S, Cl, K, Na and metal traces such as Pb and Zn. When
these elements take the form of oxides or combined with other
materials, for example: KCl, HCl, SOx, Na2SO4 and K2SO4, they can
cause hot corrosion or deposits on the turbine blades as reported by
Oakey et al. [39]. The highest concentration of CaO in particles
collected by the cyclone separator was 21.8%. The carbon was fully
burnt inside the PCC and the rest of the elements were converted
into gaseous form. With turbine inlet temperature (TIT) above
800  C, most of the particles remain in vapor form reducing the
possibility of depositing on the turbine blades. However, the
intensive ue gas cooling at the HRU will result in deposition of
heavy alkalis and minerals on the HRU tubes.
Particles from cyclone separator were measured using laser
diffractometry, Mastersizer/E instrument (Malvern Instruments
Ltd., UK). The volume percentage of the particles size distribution is
shown in Fig. 7. Particle diameters (i.e D(v,0.1), D(v,0.5) and D(v,0.9))
are about 3.31 mm, 13.89 mm and 50.78 mm for volume concentrations below 10%, 50% and 90% respectively. Also, the surface area
moment mean diameter D[3, 2] 6.29 mm, and more importantly,
the volume moment mean D[4, 3] 20.8 mm which indicates the
presence of higher bulk in the particles collected by the cyclone
separator. The span (D90-D10/D50) is about 3.4 that indicates
wider range of particles size with low uniformity, that is also
indicated by the low value of uniformity index.
Particles were also collected during the experiments through a
sampling port at the PCC outlet. The gas was passed through a
copper cooling coil, air lter and rotameter with low ow rate of
30LPM. The air lter was dried rst and then weighed. The average
amount of particles was found to be 6.6 mg/m3  3.2 (n 3). As
reported by Charles and Neilson [24], the allowable particle concentrations in the ue gas stream at turbine inlet is 30,000 ppbw

Fig. 6. PG high heating value for different equivalence ratios.

Table 1
Composition of ash and particles collected from the cyclone separator.

100% ash

Cyclone particles




that is about 3 mg/m3. This number is calculated for particles with

specic gravity of 2, and in the present study, the particles were
lighter with specic gravity of about 1.2, thus, the higher particle
concentrates. However, the amount of particles entering the turbine was still high. High temperature ceramic lters are commonly
used with pressurized uidized bed gasiers for turbine applications as reported by Oakey et al. [39]. However, uidized bed gasiers have a higher tar and particles contamination in the PG
compared to downdraft gasiers. Further study is needed to
determine the effect of adding a high efciency second-stage
cyclone on particles concentration at turbine inlet.
4.3. PCC performance
The hot PG exited the gasier during full power operation at
very high temperature of about 600  C. The sensible heat contained
in the PG was equivalent to 11% of the power that can be obtained
from PG combustion. For the experimental purpose, a vortex ow
meter was placed after the cyclone separator to measure the PG
ow rate. However, this ow meter cannot exceed 350  C. Thus, a
water cooled shell and tube gas cooler was placed after the cyclone
separator to maintain PG temperature below 300  C during the
Fig. 8 shows the temperature prole for the system at the
gasier outlet, vortex ow meter, compressor outlet, PCC inlet after
air is mixed with the PG and turbine inlet temperature (TIT). The
temperature plots shows the temperature peak during the PG
pressure elevation from 0.05 MPa up to 0.1 MPa and down again to
0.05 MPa.
The PCC was tested rst with LPG before mounting the electrical
generator. The PCC pressure ranged from 0.05 to 0.12 MPa with TIT
in the range of 900  Ce1000  C. This high temperature range is not
suitable for turbocharger based MGT. Thus, a water injector was
placed at the PCC top in front of the turbine inlet to control the TIT.
More details about the PCC performance with LPG fuel without
electrical generator was reported by Al-attab and Zainal [37]. For
LPG fuel operation as well as LPGePG dual-fuel operation, the PCC
pressure relies totally on the MGT compressor power since the ow
of LPG is negligible with A/F ratio up to 30.
Unlike LPG operation, the PG pressure has a signicant impact
on the second-stage MGT output power. This is because of relatively

K.A. Al-attab, Z.A. Zainal / Applied Thermal Engineering 70 (2014) 61e70


Fig. 7. Particle sizing for the collected particles in the cyclone separator.

high amount of PG ow through the MGT with A/F ratio ranging

from 3 to 5. Thus, it was noticed during the MGT operation, in the
case of ame blowout inside the combustor, the smoke started to
appear in the exhaust gases with sudden drop in turbine inlet
temperature. However, pressure inside the PCC remains constant
and the generator speed can still be sustained at 3000 rev/min, and
driven only by PG pressure and sensible heat.
Fig. 9 shows temperature prole inside the PCC with PG fuel
using four thermocouples T1 at the combustor top down to T4 at the
combustor bottom. Thermocouple positions were shown earlier in
Fig. 4. The PCC has to be heated up to around 600  C TIT using LPG
fuel to achieve stable PG combustion. Stage 1 in Fig. 9 shows PCC
warming up, and then the PG valve was opened and LPG was cut
gradually. At low PG pressure, the ame is unstable and ame
uctuation can be noticed at the bottom of the combustor (T3, T4).
Whilst PG pressure elevation has resulted in more combustion
stability. Flame was concentrated at the combustor bottom with
steady temperature elevation reaching up to about 1250  C, Thus,
the swirl water injector at combustor top was operated to prevent
damage to the thermocouples (stage 2). It can be noticed from the
graph that water injection reduces the temperature at the
combustor top (T1) only while the combustor bottom temperature
remains constant. At stage 3, the second water injector (air humidier) at the compressor outlet was started to reduce ame
temperature at the combustor inlet. The second injector can reduce
the temperature level throughout the whole combustor height by

Fig. 8. Temperature prole for the system at the gasier outlet, vortex ow meter,
compressor outlet and PCC inlet.

humidifying the airePG mixture. Both injectors were used with LPG
single fuel operation. However, only top injector was used in LPGe
PG dual fuel mode since the ame is more sensitive to the amount
of humidity in the presence of PG fuel. For the pressurized PG single
fuel operation, top injector was used just in case of high TIT as a
temperature controller only since the PG ame become less stable
with continuous water injection.
The amount of injected water also plays a major role in ame
stability. For PG operation, 0.5 mm injection nozzle was used with
water ow rate of 9 g/s to avoid ame quenching, whereas, 2 mm
injector (26 g/s) can cause LPG ame instability.
PCC combustion efciency with PG fuel was in the range of
85%e94% during the operation, and was calculated from Equation


_  hout  hin air=PG



Enthalpy (h) used in the equation was calculated for the air/PG
mixture with A/F ratio of 4 since the PCC has a totally premixed
Fig. 10 shows the system emissions with pressurized PG fuel.
Low CO emissions in the range of 0e15 ppm were measured
throughout the experiments. However, CO emissions elevation up
to 114 ppm was noticed during PG pressure reduction from 0.1 MPa
down to 0.05 MPa due to ame uctuation. On the other hand, NOx
emissions were high at elevated temperatures reaching up to
300 ppm since water injection was not employed during these tests
to cool down the combustor.

Fig. 9. Temperature prole inside the PCC for high pressure PG operation.


K.A. Al-attab, Z.A. Zainal / Applied Thermal Engineering 70 (2014) 61e70

Fig. 10. System emissions with the pressurized PG fuel.

Fig. 12. 2nd stage MGT power and efciency for PG operation.

4.4. MGT and HRU performance

For single-stage MGT design, the compressor speed remains
constant at the generators rated speed. Thus, MGT efciency drops
signicantly at low loads, unlike the case for two-stage design.
Therefore, for this system, the compressor speed varies with output
load, i.e. MGT operation pressure depends on the output load
The two-stage turbine has two separate shafts running at
different speeds. The rst-stage is smaller in size and the full turbine power is consumed by the compressor. The compressor power
is calculated from the general power Equation (3):

h1 st

stage MGT

Compressor power=Turbine power  100:


First-stage MGT efciency along with turbine and compressor

calculated powers are shown in Fig. 11 for different PGefuel operation pressures.
Second-stage MGT efciency is calculated from Equation (6):

h2 nd

stage MGT

Electrical output power=Turbine power


_ p DT
Compressor power m$C


For the rst and second stage turbine power calculations, temperature difference was not used due to higher measuring error
caused by temperature drop in the turbine air-fan cooled casing.
Instead, high sensitivity differential pressure gauges were used to
measure pressure drop through the turbine. Equation (4) is used to
calculate turbine power:

_ Dh
Turbine power m$


Enthalpy at TIT temperature was calculated for the combustion

product with A/F ratio of 4 from the gas property tables for each gas
contained in the ue gases. Using pressure ratio, the turbine outlet
enthalpy was also determined from the gas property tables.
The calculated turbine power was found to be greater than that
for the compressor, indicating mechanical and power losses.
Therefore, the rst-stage MGT efciency is calculated from Equation (5):

Fig. 11. 1st stage MGT power and efciency for PG operation.

For 200e300 W electrical power output, only one of the two

gasier blowers was operated to provide 0.05 MPa PG pressure.
Operating the two blowers at partial load with slight opening of the
bypass valve between the blowers can generate about 500 W
electrical output at 0.08 MPa PG pressure. Full load blowers can
generate 0.9e1.0 kWe at 0.1e0.11 MPa PG pressure. Second-stage
MGT efciency for different PG operating pressures is shown in
Fig. 12. The efciency trend line tends to increase linearly as can be
noticed from the graph. This is because friction losses for the turbine, speed reduction pulley unit and low speed are almost constant at the same operation speed.
HRU efciency is calculated from Equation (7):

hHRU Hot air thermal power=Flue gas thermal power

For the heat recovery unit, the two-pass design can operate
smoothly at PG gauge pressure of 0.05 MPa. However, at higher PG

Fig. 13. One-pass HRU power and efciency.

K.A. Al-attab, Z.A. Zainal / Applied Thermal Engineering 70 (2014) 61e70


Fig. 16. System efciency with and without the gasier and compression equipments.

Fig. 14. Specic fuel consumption for the system.

pressures the ame become less stable and tends to blowout due to
high back pressure of the HRU. Thus, one-pass HRU was tested and
the ame was more stable with a drop in hot air temperature and
HRU efciency from 260  C to 200  C and 86%e75% respectively.
Fig. 13 shows the one-pass HRU power and efciency during a full
output power operation.
As mentioned earlier, the PG pressure has a signicant contribution to the output power. However, due to the gasier air blower
limitations, using two blowers in series doubles PG pressure, but PG
ow rate remains almost constant as with single blower. Thus, PG
specic fuel consumption (SFC) at high pressure is much lower than
low PG pressure operation. This is because fuel consumption at
high pressure is only slightly higher compared to lower PG pressure
but the output power is boosted by the effect of PG pressure. Fig. 14
shows SFC for the system thermal output (hot air production) as
well as for the total system output including electrical output. It can
be noticed from the plots that inclusion of electrical output does
not enhance the SFC signicantly. However, the electrical output is
only required to achieve a self sustaining unit without the
requirement for external power source for the operation.
The required A/F ratio for the current PG compositions to
complete combustion is about 1.03 at stoichiometric conditions.
Increasing PG pressure accelerates the rst-stage MGT compressor
to draw more air. Air inlet valve was kept partially open throughout
all the tests to avoid drawing excessive amounts of air that can
affect the combustion stability and drop TIT. Equivalence ratio (see
Equation (1)) increases with increase in PG pressure since the
increment in PG ow is less than air. The effect of PG operating
pressure on (ER) and system hot air production power is shown in
Fig. 15.
For large gas turbine power stations, gas fuel is usually provided
through high pressure pipe lines from gas compression stations for
mass production, whereas, for small scale systems, the cost of PG

production and compression is quite high. However, in the case of

mass PG production and compression, the CHP system overall efciency can reach up to 60% for this small scale. Pressurized gasier
efciency (with the compression equipment power requirement)
will drop the system efciency down to 50% as shown in Fig. 16.
The experiments were repeated four times for the experimental
error analysis. Experimental error was calculated in the form of:
1 SD (n 4). Table 2 shows the experimental error for: equivalence ratio, compressor power, 1st stage turbine power, 2nd stage
turbine power, electrical power output, 1st stage MGT efciency,
2nd stage MGT efciency, SFC for thermal output, SFC for total
output, system efciency and system efciency with the gasier
and compression equipments.
The variations in result between two experiments at the same
condition are caused mainly by the following:
 The difference in PG quality, moisture content and ow rate at
the same pressure. PG quality and moisture content differences
were minimized by reloading same type and amount of wood
before each ow PG pressure range test to minimize the differences between drying, pyrolysis and gasication zone sizes.
PG ow rate depends mainly on the amount of blockage and
ow resistance inside the gasier. Periodic cleaning for the
gasier grid can minimize PG ow variations.
 Human error in reading the analog pressure gauges. Different
scale range gauges were used for the different parts of the system to achieve better measurement and reading accuracy.
 The high changes in ambient temperature. Around 8.3% output
power drop was reported [40] as a result of 20 F (11  C) ambient
temperature elevation for industrial power turbines. Thus, all
experiments were performed at similar ambient temperature.
5. Conclusion
Implementing pressurized combustion and MGT technology for
small-scale hot air production has enhanced efciency and reduced
Table 2
Experimental error values for the system.

Fig. 15. System hot air thermal power and operation equivalence ratio.

Equivalence ratio
Compressor power (kW)
1st stage turbine power (kW)
2nd stage turbine power (kW)
Electrical power output (kWe)
1st stage MGT efciency (%)
2nd stage MGT efciency (%)
SFC for thermal output (kg/kW h)
SFC for total output (kg/kW h)
System efciency (%)
System efciency with the gasier (%)

PG gauge pressure







K.A. Al-attab, Z.A. Zainal / Applied Thermal Engineering 70 (2014) 61e70

emissions signicantly compared to conventional atmospheric

biomass combustors. The two-stage MGT showed stable operation
with pressurized PG fuel without any auxiliary fossil fuel to support
combustion. Using pressurized downdraft gasier with MGT
instead of uidized bed gasier can reduce the gas cleaning cost.
However, long-term MGT operation is needed to study PG combustion effect on turbine blades.
The authors would like to thank the Universiti Sains Malaysia
research grant program (RU-PGRS) (RU-PGRS 1001/8041012) and
Research-University Grant (RU-Grant) (1001/Pmekanik/814159) for
the nancial support.
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