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Gas engines, combined cycles and trigeneration.

1. Combined cycles
Increased ecological consciousness and the knowledge of the limited reserves of primary
energy in the form of fossil fuels make it necessary to transform available energy sources
economically. Cogeneration plants produce electricity and heat at decentralizes locations, i.e.
where they are required. They offer optimal efficiency in the transformation of energy with
minimum environmental pollution.
Losses usually results from waste heat. For that reason, sensible, thermodynamic energy
converters are those which supply power (usually used to produce electricity) and heat. This
power, however, can also be utilized for the direct drive of machines such as pumps,
compressors (e.g. for refrigerating plants), etc.

 2 .5 
1 −  ∗ 100 = 42% savings of primary energy with cogeneration
 4.33 
The energy requirement of cogeneration plants is more than one third less compared with
separate generation of electricity and heat.

Cogeneration plants are not limited to integration into centralized heating networks, rather
they can be more effectively applied for local heat supply with the generated electricity being
used to cover local consumption and/or export to the utility. The plants also offer themselves
for the replacement or addition to existing heat plants. The total degree of efficiency of
cogeneration plants is about 90%. Since cogeneration plants are usually in the vicinity of
consumers, the distribution losses are less than in the case of central electricity and heat

Combined heat and power is possible with both gas engines and gas turbines. In comparison
to the gas turbines, combined heat and power plants with gas engines indicate clearly higher
electrical efficiency (see Illustration) and considerably lower investment costs. Turbines can
more economically used in applications with a large constant high value heat requirement of
over 110 °C or in large multi-Megawatt installations. For both technologies the designation
“cogeneration plant” has become established. The space requirement is considerably smaller
than conventional power stations.
Cogeneration Plants in General
A cogeneration plan consists of an engine (or turbine)/generator set with heat exchangers for
the utilization of the thermal energy in the intercooler, jacket water, lubrication oil and
exhaust gas. A boiler plant specifically for peak heating demand periods can augment the
cogeneration modules.

Electrical connection and control installations serve for distribution of electricity and engine
management. Hydraulic distribution ensures efficient heat recovery.

The total efficiency of gas engine cogeneration plants attains up to over 90% (30%-40%
electrical and over 50% thermal).
The losses brought about by energy transformation –about 10% - are comprised of generator,
radiation and heat exchanger losses and the remaining heat of the exhaust gas.

Besides a spark ignition gas engines, a gas-diesel (dual-fuel) or a diesel engine can be used as
drivers, their main disadvantage being, however, the considerably higher emissions. In many
plants with spark-ignition gas engines so-called mixture-turbo charging is used; here a
mixture of air and gas are put under a higher pressure in a turbocharger. In consequence, one
increases the specific energy density in the cylinders and hence the power in contrast to
aspirating-type engines of comparable size. In combination with the lean-burn engine
principle this results in extremely low NOx emissions without additional secondary treatment
of exhaust gas.

2. Trigeneration

Possibilities of combination
Chilled air/fluid can be produced by conventional reciprocating chillers or absorption chillers.
With the later type the thermal energy of cogeneration plant can be utilized.

Advantages through the combination of cogeneration with absorption chillers:

- increase of the module operation time through additional utilization of exhaust heat
with summer load
- decrease of the connected electrical load and hence reduction of energy costs.

Advantages of absorption chillers in comparison to a conventional reciprocating chiller:

- environmentally friendly cryogens (no CFC)
- longer service life due to fewer moving parts, hence also
- low maintenance and repair costs
- lower power consumption

Extreme peak demand for chilled air/fluid can be compensated by a compression-type

refrigerating machine.
3. Gas engine
Current gas engine are virtually four-stroke cycle engines because their gas exchange can be
closely controlled, thus providing the prerequisites for high efficiency and clean burning.

Engines designed for gaseous fuel operation employ different methods of supplying and
igniting the fuel:
1. Spark-ignition gas engine featuring spark plug ignition so as to ignite the fuel-air
mixture in the cylinder by means of an electric spark.
2. Duel-fuel engine featuring autoignition of the pilot diesel fuel in the fuel-air charge
in the cylinder.
3. Gas-diesel engine featuring autoignition of the gas quantity forced under high
pressure and at ignition point into the air charge.

Working cycle and main components

Working cycle of the four-stroke gas engine
Sequence of operations occurring in a four-stroke cycle engine:
1st stroke: Intake
2nd stroke: Compression
3rd stroke: Power (combustion and expansion)
4th stroke: Exhaust

The piston moves from its top to its bottom position during each stroke (i.e. from top dead
center, TDC, to bottom dead center, BDC) or vice versa. Pressure characteristics and
temperatures during piston movement are shown for the naturally aspirated spark-ignition
engine at full load (continuous line) and at part load (broken line) and for the turbo charged
engine (dash-dotted line).
Gas engines, too, employ the concept of exhaust turbocharging created in 1905 by Alfred
Büchi in Winterthur to boost engine power. Air and/or a fuel-air charge is forced under
pressure into the cylinder by a compressor connected to the exhaust driven turbine. The extra
air provided by the turbocharger results in an increase in horsepower output that is up to three
times as high and, for gas engines, generally up to 1.5times as high (bearing in mind the
exhaust emission limitation).

Turbina and compressor of the turbocharger are mounted at either end of a shaft and are
accommodates in a separate housing.

The air fresh charge heated due to compression in the turbocharger expands and becomes less
dense. To increase the charge blow into the cylinders, the temperature of the air of the fuel-air
mixture has to be reduced by a charge air cooler can be directly located in the engine’s
coolant circuit (single circuit system) or feature its own circuit with lower-temperature water.

Control of the working cycle

Gas engines always have volume control by means of the throttle in the intake manifold. The
quality of the cylinder charge of gaseous fuel and air is produced in the mixer and must be
largely maintained over the entire operating range, in order to keep the mixture within the
ignition limits and the exhaust emissions low.

At full load, the throttle is nearly wide open. For part load, the throttle is slightly closed,
which prevents the cylinders from being supplied with the total amount of mixture, while
creating a partial vacuum before the cylinders and the beginning of compression: process
identified in figure by broken lines. The process temperatures occurring at reduced pressures
are nearly the same as those at full load, which is also evident from the exhaust temperatures
that remain virtually unchanged approaching part load.
The process of the turbocharged engine –dash-dotted line- is also controlled by the throttle.
The temperature-volume diagram also shows the compressor and turbine operations.

In the case of the process of the turbocharged engine, energy conversion takes place at higher
pressures. The temperatures tend to be lower then those in naturally aspirated engines, due to
the possible and applied higher air-fuel ratios.

In part load condition, the change air flow is reduced, which results in less exhaust gas energy
and hence reduces the turbocharger speed and boost. Consequently, the turbocharged engine
at part load features a lower total compression of compressor and engine.

Energy balance
The thermodynamic process takes place between piston and cylinder head at high gas- and
combustion temperatures to deliver mechanical work to the crank mechanism. To reduce the
high gas temperature level reaching temporarily more the 2000 °C, the combustion chamber
walls are jacket-cooled.

The coolant used is practically all gas engines is water of a mixture of water and 33% of
glycol (added as antifreeze).

The heat given off to the pistons is carried to the lube oil in the crankcase and, together with
the heat from bearing cooling in an oil cooler, is transferred to the engine coolant.

The points at which heat builds up and needs to be carried away (except for exhaust heat) are
shown in Figure based on a turbocharged engine. The heat amounts absorbed into the engine’s
coolant are no wastage when utilized in heating water systems – it is here that the concept of
cogeneration of power and heat is realized. In exceptional cases, the waste heat is carried
away from the engine via cooling towers (emergency cooling system) and discharged to the
The heat and energy balances are shown in the next figure for naturally-aspirated and a
turbocharged version.

In a single-circuit system, all cooling point of an engine are series-connected in one coolant
circuit. In a multiple-circuit system, charge, oil, engine and exhaust manifold are cooled
separately. In the double circuit system, only the charge air- or charge cooler is separated
from the engine cooling circuit.

Regarding system design, the single-circuit system is the most straightforward cooling
method that is also most efficient in terms of the utilization degrees because all waste heat
amounts are utilizes and only a single cooling circuit is provided.

The heat released in engine operation cannot only be used for heating purposes and steam
generation but also for refrigeration by means absorption liquid chillers. The term commonly
used for such applications is “combined heat, power and cold”.

What percentages of heat- and refrigeration energy can be utilized is addition to electrical
energy, can be seen in figure below.
Engine parts:
- Crank mechanism
- Crankcase
- Cylinder head
- Valve train
- Gas supply: Mixer
- Ignition system

Gaseous fuels

Gas engine are internal combustion engines designed to operate on the greatest variety of

Gaseous fuels are primarily hydrocarbons composed of carbon C and hydrogen H.

Hydrocarbons are found in solid, liquid or gaseous states. They come from natural sources.

Natural gas is composed primarily of methane with mines concentrations of hydrocarbons

with higher C-atom numbers.

Nowadays there are also combustible gases given off in biological processes: sewage gas,
landfill gas, biogas, which are all product of forced rotting of civilizational and animal waste.
In this connection, bacteria decompose the various hydrocarbons substances to produce
methane gas plus CO2.

Methane number
The methane number is used to express the antiknock quality. After conducting systematic
tests on a test engine, methane was given the rating 100 and hydrogen 0. Based on the same
antiknock quality as the gaseous fuel used is the test engine, the content of methane in a
comparative mixture of methane and hydrogen is characterized by the methane number.
1. Jenbacher: Cogeneration with gas engines.
2. Deutz MWM: Information Gasmotoren. Mannheim, 1993
3. W. Cartellieri, Pfeifer: Entwicklung der Energieerzeugung durch Kraftgase. FVV-
Forschungsbericht 120/1971
4. ASUE: BHKW und Methanzahl – Enfluss der Gasbeschaffenheit auf den Motorbetrieb.
Hamburg, 1991
5. Lewis, B., von Elbe, G.: Combustion, Flames and Explosions of Gases. Academic Press Inc.
6. Zacharias, Friedmann: Gasmotoren. Vogel Fachbuch, Würzburg, 2001