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Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 16771686


Combined cycle power plant with integrated low temperature heat (LOTHECO)
E. Kakaras a, A. Doukelis


, R. Leithner b, N. Aronis

Laboratory of Steam Boilers and Thermal Plants, National Technical University of Athens, Heroon Polytechniou 9, 15780 Athens, Greece b TU Braunschweig, Institute for Heat and Fuel Technology, Franz-Liszt-Str. 35, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany Received 12 July 2003; accepted 31 October 2003 Available online 31 December 2003

Abstract The major driver to enhance the eciency of the simple gas turbine cycle has been the increase in process conditions through advancements in materials and cooling methods. Thermodynamic cycle developments or cycle integration are among the possible ways to further enhance performance. The current paper presents the possibilities and advantages from the LOTHECO natural gas-red combined cycle concept. In the LOTHECO cycle, low-temperature waste heat or solar heat is used for the evaporation of injected water droplets in the compressed air entering the gas turbines combustion chamber. Following a description of this innovative cycle, its advantages are demonstrated by comparison between dierent gas turbine power generation systems for small and large-scale applications, including thermodynamic and economic analysis. A commercial gas turbine (ALSTOM GT10C) has been selected and computed with the heat mass balance program ENBIPRO. The results from the energy analysis are presented and the features of each concept are discussed. In addition, the exergy analysis provides information on the irreversibilities of each process and suggested improvements. Finally, the economic analysis reveals that the combined cycle plant with a heavyduty gas turbine is the most ecient and economic way to produce electricity at base load. However, on a smaller scale, innovative designs, such as the LOTHECO concept, are required to reach the same level of performance at feasible costs. European Communities, 2004. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Gas turbine technology; Exergo-economic analysis; Process simulation of thermal power plants

Corresponding author. Tel.: +30-1-7722720; fax: +30-1-7723663. E-mail address: adoukel@central.ntua.gr (A. Doukelis).

1359-4311/$ - see front matter European Communities, 2004. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2003.10.030


E. Kakaras et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 16771686

Nomenclature kinv kF kOp kMai kt&i n COE Pel SGT CCGT STIG HAT investment cost in Mil. Euro (100% own capital ) 10 years payback) fuel cost in /GJ (LHV) coecient of the operating costs (/MW h) coecient of the maintenance costs (/MW h) coecient of the taxes and insurance costs operation period 20 years cost of electricity (/kW h) net electrical output (MW) simple gas turbine combined cycle gas turbine steam injection gas turbine humid air turbine

1. Introduction In regard to the simple-cycle gas turbine technology, the major driver to enhance the engine performance has been the increase in process conditions (temperature and pressure) through advancements in materials and cooling methods. On-going development and near-term introduction of advanced engines will improve the eciency of the simple-cycle operation up to 40%. The combination of the high temperature cycle (Joule cycle) with a medium or low temperature bottoming cycle (like water/steam Rankine cycle) is the most eective way to increase the thermal eciency of a gas turbine. Heavy-duty natural gas red gas turbines in combination with heat recovery steam generators and steam turbines demonstrate the state of the art of this approach. Inexpensive, readily available media (like air and water), well developed technologies (gas turbine, heat recovery steam generator, steam turbine), short construction time and in particular the high overall eciency have led to wide acceptance of this scheme. Combined cycle plants are already achieving eciencies well over 57%, with plant capacities in the range between 350 and 500 MW [1]. However, the development pace decelerated as the most readily available technical advances were exploited. Furthermore, in small-scale power generation (<50 MW) it is generally more cost eective to install a less complex power plant, due to the adverse eect of the economics of scale. Gas turbine combined cycle plants in this power output range have usually higher specic investment costs and lower electrical eciencies but, on the other hand, robust and reliable performance [2]. Thermodynamic cycle developments (recuperative, inter-cooled or reheat cycles) or cycle integration (steam injection gas turbine, humid air turbine) are among the possible ways to improve the performance of gas turbine based power plants at feasible costs. The scope of this paper is to examine, from an energetic, exergetic and economic point of view, the possibilities and advantages from the introduction of the novel LOTHECO natural gas-red combined cycle concept. The work presented here has been performed within the framework of the EC contract ENK5-CT2000-00063. The consortium consisted of the following entities: Public Power Corporation of Greece; Technische Universitaet Braunschweig; National Technical

E. Kakaras et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 16771686


University of Athens; Technische Universitaet Wien; Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine; Fichtner GmbH & Co KG; Universitatea Politehnica Timisoara; Soa Energy Centre Ltd.; Frederick Institute of Technology; Electricity Authority of Cyprus; and Hyperion Systems Engineering Ltd.

2. Description of the LOTHECO cycle LOTHECO (Fig. 1) is a natural gas-red combined cycle concept exploiting low-temperature waste heat or solar heat to evaporate water injected into the compressed air, which afterwards enters the combustion chamber of the gas turbine. An identied method to improve the performance of an open gas turbine based power plant is to integrate the bottoming water/steam cycle into the gas turbine cycle in the form of water or steam injection. Gas turbines with water or steam injection (Wet Gas Turbine Technologies) have a higher electrical eciency than the traditional open gas turbine cycle and produce more electricity per unit fuel input. Well-known schemes of this technology are the steam injection gas turbines (STIG) and the humid air turbines (HAT) [3,4]. The waste heat of the gas turbine is recovered and is utilised to produce steam, which is afterwards injected into the combustion air, or to humidify the compressed combustion air. Hence, the mass ow of the expanding ue gas is increased and thereby the fuel-to-electricity eciency and the electrical power output are raised. This approach is favourable because water,

Fig. 1. LOTHECO cycle.


E. Kakaras et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 16771686

unlike air, requires signicantly less compressor/pump work [5]. Nevertheless, it should be mentioned that the expansion of steam in the gas turbine to atmospheric pressure is less ecient than in a steam turbine, where steam leaves the turbine at much lower pressures, thus providing more power and higher eciency. Furthermore, the design of modern heat recovery steam generators (HRSG) includes two or more pressure levels and re-heaters, which allows the advanced recovery of the ue gas thermal energy. Therefore, a gas turbine with steam, i.e. water, injection will have a lower eciency than in combined cycle operation. This is the crucial point of the LOTHECO concept. Unlike other Wet Gas Turbines, where the steam cycle is eliminated and integrated into the gas turbine, the LOTHECO cycle attends to use an external energy source for the water-in-air evaporation, while the heat contained in the exhaust gas is utilised in a bottoming steam (Rankine) cycle. Since water-in-air evaporation takes place at the vapour partial pressure, the saturation temperature is accordingly signicant low (below 170 C). This temperature range (from below 100C up to 170 C depending on the amount of injected water and the compressor pressure ratio) is in favour of the integration of low quality heat sources, that under other circumstances cannot be utilised for electric power generation (except from organic Rankine cycles). These arrangements result in an enhanced fuel-to-electricity eciency compared to the eciency of an equivalent conventional combined cycle (1525% at ISO conditions) [6]. Possible low-temperature energy sources are renewable sources, such as solar or geothermal heat, or waste heat from industrial processes (paper mills, natural gas compressor stations, etc.). The presented eciencies in this paper are related only to fuel consumption, since the external heat source is supposed to be free of fuel costs. The increment of eciency because of low-quality heat integration must be able to cover the additional investment costs for its exploitation. In addition, like other wet gas turbine concepts, eciency improvement in the LOTHECO concept does not require advances in basic turbine technology (e.g. airfoil design, airfoil materials and airfoil cooling). Fig. 1 illustrates the basic concept of the LOTHECO cycle. Water is injected before the evaporator, in more than one step, into the pressurised stoichiometric combustion airow. Water evaporation takes place at partial pressure (between 61 and 7 bar, according to the approximate 50% water vapour content in the combustion air) and, therefore, at very low temperatures (from below 100 to 170 C). Following its evaporation and slight overheating, the air/water vapour mixture enters the combustion chamber of the gas turbine, where it is used as the medium for the oxidation/combustion of natural gas. The ue gas exiting the gas turbine is directed to the heat recovery steam generator and a heat exchanger, in which the water content of the ue gas is condensed at temperatures varying from about 100 C down to 57 C, according to the decreasing water vapour partial pressure. The condensed water is, then, treated in a condensate polishing plant and reused for injection. The main innovations and advantages of the LOTHECO cycle are Compression of stoichiometric airow, leading to reduced compressors size and power consumption in comparison with conventional combined cycles. Very low temperatures in the evaporator (from 100 to 170 C). High heat transfer rate in the evaporator, due to the higher heat transfer enhanced by water evaporation. Very low NOx emissions, due to the high water vapour content in the combustion air and the low combustion temperatures.

E. Kakaras et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 16771686


3. Exergetic analysis of gas turbine based power plants A commercial small-scale gas turbine (ALSTOM GT10C) was selected and calculated with the heat and mass balance program ENBIPRO [7] for dierent plant congurations (SGT, CCGT, STIG, HAT and LOTHECO). The specications for both simple and combined modes of operation have been found in literature [8,9]. Figs. 2 and 3 show the energy and exergy ow diagrams of the ALSTOM combined cycle power plant KA10C. As can be seen in Fig. 3, the largest source of exergy destruction is the combustion chamber, in which 31.6% of the supplied fuel exergy is lost. 25.2% of the supplied exergy leaves the gas turbine and enters the HRSG. In contrast to 24.2% of the energy ow, only 2.5% of the supplied exergy is rejected as ue gas. The basic exergy analysis has been applied to the STIG, HAT and LOTHECO cycles utilising the GT10C gas turbine. The thermodynamic properties (enthalpy, entropy) were determined based on polynomial equations taken from [10,11].

el = 51.1% (LHV)

100% HHV 24.2%

40.9% 1.1% 0.9% 77.7% 140.0%

2.4% 30.7%

Con HRSG 7.0% E

33.1% 40.6% 27.4%

31.8% 35.6% (LHV) 3.2% 7.1%


0.6% 13.9% 15.5% (LHV)

Fig. 2. Energy ow of the ALSTOM CCGT plant (based on HHV).

100% HHV 2.5% 31.9% 31.6% 5.3% 75.0%

3.7 % 0.1% 1.7% 6.1%


Con 2.9% HRSG 2.1%

1.1 % 2.0% 2.4%

31.8% 6.0%



25.2% 2.8%

13.9 %

Fig. 3. Exergy ow diagram of the ALSTOM CCGT plant.


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Figs. 46 show the results of the analysis. The ows (in %) are derived by dividing the exergy at the outlet of each component with the fuel HHV. Each ow shows the exergy change because of heat, mass or work transfer, as well as the exergy destruction because of irreversibilities. Compared to the SGT, where exergy transfer in the turbine is 31.8%, the equivalent exergy transfer, i.e. shaft power output, of the other cycles is higher, since the exergy of the gas turbine exhaust gas is further utilised. Nevertheless, irreversibilities occurring within the process result in much higher exergy destruction compared to the CCGT process. Pressure drops (heat exchangers, humidication tower) and mixing points of ows with dierent chemical compositions (water/steam injections) explain this exergy destruction. Similar to the CCGT process, the main source of exergy destruction is the combustion chamber of the gas turbine. Yet, all other cycles demonstrate

18.4% 100% HHV 23.2 % 38.1 %

8.1% 105.3% 5.6 %


3.5% 32.8% 75.3%

41.7% 6.6% 0.0% 4.5%




Fig. 4. Exergy ow diagram of the STIG cycle.

100% HHV 4.8%

104.9% 4.9%

41.5% 14.7% 11.4% IC 0.0% 1.0%



24.1% AC 6.1% 10.1% 1.9% 18.7% 6.9% 37.2% 21.8% 33.2% REC 2.6% 8.1% 15.2% 1.1% 3.0% 0.0% 2.1% ECO 8.1%

1.2% 4.0%



Fig. 5. Exergy ow diagram of the HAT cycle.

E. Kakaras et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 16771686

500 Temperature (C) 400 300 200 100 0 0 10 20 30 40 Heat Flow (MW) 50 60
water in air evaporation aftercooler/ recuperator


Fig. 6. T Q diagram of the evaporator/aftercooler of the LOTHECO cycle.

lower exergy destruction during air compression and ue gas expansion, since part of the air, which in conventional gas turbines is used for turbine blade cooling, is substituted by injected water/steam. The water has a higher specic heat capacity and hence results in lower air and ue gas mass ows. In the STIG process the ue gas exergy ow entering the heat recovery steam generator is signicantly higher (32.1%) than in the CCGT process (25.2%). However, the single-pressure HRSG results in higher exergy destruction inside the HRSG (5.6% compared to 3.7% for the CCGT process). Furthermore, exergy waste, i.e. unused energy, of the released exhaust gas is equal to 8.1%. These exergy losses are the main reason why the eciency of the STIG cycle is lower than the eciency of the combined cycle plant. In the HAT process, ue gas recovery is more ecient and exergy destruction is reduced down to 3.7% (2.6% and 1.1% in the recuperator and in the economiser respectively). However, the eciency of the process remains lower than the CCGT eciency, because of exergy destruction in the intercooler, aftercooler (2.2%) and the exhaust gas exergy waste (8.1%). Finally, for the LOTHECO process a uid with a typical GT-exhaust gas composition was chosen as the waste heat transfer medium. Such a medium can be found in a natural gas compressor station. The inlet temperature of the waste heat medium at the evaporator was set equal to 250 C. Fig. 6 presents the T Q diagram of the water-in-air evaporation process and of the aftercooler. The waste heat stream leaves the evaporator at a temperature of 97 C, 12 C higher than the humid air stream resulting from the water injection. The saturated humid air leaves the evaporator at a temperature of 169 C and enters the aftercooler, where it is superheated to 332 C. As can be seen in Fig. 7, ue gas utilisation in the HRSG results in low exergy destruction (3.7%). On the other hand, integration of the low-temperature heat source introduces high exergy losses. The exergy waste of the cycle (unused energy) consists mainly of the ue gas exergy ow leaving the HRSG (10.3%) and the waste heat energy carrier (15.8%) at the outlet of the evaporator. Exergy destruction at the evaporator can be minimised by decreasing the waste heat temperature, which however aects the size of the evaporator and hence the investment costs of the plant.


E. Kakaras et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 16771686

2.2% 0.5% 25.9% 1.1% 35.1% 8.2% 25.9% 18.2% 11.9% 11.2% 39.1% 59.5% 20.7% 32.5% 93.4% 5.2% 4.4% 100% HHV 0% 0.1% 1.7% 11.1% 4.7%

Con HRSG 2.0%

2.8% 1.1% 16.4% 1.9% 0.4%


2.2% 0.0%

2.8% 13.3%

Fig. 7. Exergy ow diagram of the LOTHECO cycle.

4. Economic analysis of the LOTHECO cycle Economic evaluation of the ve study cases (SGT, CCGT, HAT, STIG and LOTHECO) has been carried out on the basis of the nancial criteria described in Table 1, for an operating period of 20 years. The investment cost of SGT and CCGT has been calculated by assuming a specic cost of 400 and 700 /kWel , respectively. The equivalent investment cost of the other units, as well as the resulting electricity cost (COE), have been calculated using equations and data found in [11,12]. Fig. 8 shows the cost of electricity (COE) of each plant as a function of the full load operating hours for intermediate and base operation. For less than 4000 full load operating hours, the COE of the SGT and STIG units are lower than the equivalent cost of the combined cycle plant. On the other hand, the CCGT unit operates more cost eciently for intermediate base load applications. The COE of the HAT cycle is always higher than the COE of the STIG and CCGT cycles. Only in the case of more than 4500 full load operating hours, the HAT unit generates electricity at lower costs than the SGT cycle. Finally, the economic evaluation of the LOTHECO concept reveals that

Table 1 Assumptions made for the economic analysis of the ve study cases SGT Pel (MW) nel (%) kinv (M) kF (/GJ) kMai kOp kt&i Personnel 29.13 36.0 11.6 3 0.2 1.8 0.02 18 CCGT 41.30 51.1 30.97 3 0.3 2.0 0.02 30 HAT 36.55 45.2 25.85 3 0.25 1.9 0.02 24 STIG 37.25 46.0 20.90 3 0.25 1.9 0.02 24 LOTHECO 46.6 57.6 36.82 3 0.35 2.1 0.02 34

E. Kakaras et al. / Applied Thermal Engineering 24 (2004) 16771686




COE (Euro/kWh)

COE (Euro/kWh)






0.05 1000





0.045 4000





full load operating hours (hr/a) SGT CCGT STIG HAT LOTHECO

full load operating hours (hr/a) CCGT STIG HAT LOTHECO

Fig. 8. Cost of electricity as a function of the full-load operating hours.

the integration of low quality (waste) heat source results in such an increase in fuel eciency, that the additional investment cost for the waste heat utilisation can be recovered.

5. Conclusions The current paper has presented the possibilities and advantages from the LOTHECO natural gas-red combined cycle concept. Following a description of this innovative cycle, its advantages have been demonstrated by comparison with four gas turbine based power generation systems for small and large-scale applications (SGT, CCGT, STIG and HAT). A commercial gas turbine has also been selected and computed with the heat mass balance program ENBIPRO and the results from the exergy analysis have provided information on the irreversibilities of each process and suggested improvements. The exergy analysis has shown the source of the exergy losses of each process. Moreover, the economic analysis revealed that for smaller scale power plants and for intermediate operation, where the CGGT power plants are relatively expensive to operate, other innovative designs, such as the STIG or the LOTHECO cycle, could be used to generate electricity at signicantly lower costs.

Acknowledgements The current work has been performed for the FP5 contract ENK5-CT2000-00063 and the contribution of the European Commission is gratefully acknowledged.


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