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Ramgen Power Systems

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POWER Systems Ramgen

Gas Turbine Engine

 ISCE Engine

Shock Wave Based Ramgen Engine


Ramgen initiated development of its unique shock wave based engine in 1998. At a Design Review organized by DOE/NETL in 2002, researchers from DOE, NASA, and the Air Force Research Laboratory conducted an in-depth review of the Ramgen engine project and concluded that the technology was feasible and important. It was recognized that shock wave based compression offered an absolutely unique opportunity to significantly improve energy efficiency.

Because of the complexity of the technology, the Design Review recommended that the most effective development approach was a two-prong program. Since the compressor and the combustor each had individual applications it was recommended they be developed independently and, when sufficient progress was made with both, they be brought back together and combined into the engine. Ramgen accepted and has followed this recommendation.

In 2004 Ramgen was asked by DOE to analyze whether the advanced compression system had applications with CO2. It was determined that the Ramgen shock based compressor had significant advantages over conventional technologies when used with this heavier gas. Because of the importance to the nation and world of reducing the cost of CCS, developing a working demonstration of a commercial scale CO2 compressor became the focus of the company. Currently a 13,000 hp CO2 compressor is being constructed for testing.

Significant progress has been made in designing and testing the Advanced Vortex Combustor (AVC) system including tests at NETL funded by the California Energy Commission. Now with the construction of the 13,000 hp compressor the foundation is set for returning to the recommendation of the DOE/NETL Design Review to combine the two highly innovative systems and complete the Ramgen engine. The breakthroughs with the compressor and the combustor are based on using CFD analysis that has been steadily advanced over the past ten years to produce ever increasing accuracy. These advanced CFD tools, backed up with tests to validate projections, can now be applied to the full Ramgen engine.

The Ramgen Integrated Supersonic Component Engine (ISCE) consolidates the compressor, combustor and turbine of a conventional gas turbine into a single wheel. This paper outlines how the knowledge gained in the development of the advanced Ramgen compressor has resulted in important modifications in the original engine design. The lessons learned from the work on advanced compression and from the successful AVC tests provide an in-depth understanding of how to complete the Ramgen engine.

Description of Technology

While the ISCE operates based on the same Brayton thermodynamic Cycle as a conventional gas turbine, the mechanical implementation of the process is quite different. One important advantage is that because the compression, combustion and expansion processes are all integrated into a single constant speed rotor, there is no physical acceleration of the rotating components required as the system transitions from idle to full power. The output torque and power are modulated from the full-speed no load condition to the full-speed, full power condition by adjusting the fuel flow. As a result, the system can transition from idle to full power as quickly as the fuel flow can be adjusted.

Testing performed by Ramgen with support from DARPA at the Air Force Research Laboratory has demonstrated a transition from combustor heat release levels consistent with a power variation from idle (pilot fuel only) to full power (full fuel/air premix) in periods as short as 150-200 ms. This is possible in significant part due to the dramatic stability of the Advanced Vortex Combustor (AVC) system that Ramgen has developed and demonstrated in a number of full scale tests supported by past DOE contracts.

It is this combination of the constant speed operating mode of the ISCE power wheel architecture and the stability of the AVC combustor that result in this unique ability to load follow from idle to full power in time scales as short as a few hundred mili-seconds for the ISCE compared with a response rate of 7-10 seconds for most intermediate sized gas turbine electric power generating systems.

This ability to very rapidly load follow is particularly well suited to a number of power generation applications. One such application is power quality conditioning or smoothing. This is of particular interest as power distribution grids are being required to absorb increasing amounts of relatively time varying and transient power from a range of renewable power generation sources. Wind power in particular produces an integrated output which has a high degree of time based fluctuation as the wind speed levels vary in time.

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