Optimization of gas turbine generator-sets for improved power density
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Many future U.S. Navy ships will employ all-electric propulsion systems instead of mechanical drives. To help optimize performance of these systems, studies are under way at The University of Texas at Austin Center for Electromechanics (UT-CEM) to minimize the size of power generation components. These studies focus on increasing the power density of directly coupled gas turbines and generators (gen-sets). The approach adopted in this paper uses scaling laws of gas turbines and synchronous electrical generators to examine the possibility of increasing power density by operating at higher shaft speeds. Included is consideration of inlet and exhaust turbine ducts and issues involving power electronics. Study results indicate that if inlet and exhaust duct volumes are neglected, the power density of directly coupled gas turbine-generator sets can be significantly improved by scaling to higher operating speeds. However, the advantages of scaling to higher speeds are largely negated when duct volumes typically encountered on modern ships are included. This suggests locating power generation equipment near the ambient terminus of inlet and exhaust ducts, so that duct lengths are minimized and fully exploiting the power density advantages of scaling to higher shaft speeds becomes possible.