US-based GE Gas Power will develop ‘breakthrough’ decarbonisation technologies as part of a decarbonisation drive using $4.2m in funding from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) OPEN 2021 Program.

Announced yesterday, 28th July, the funding will be used to advance two of GE’s decarbonisation projects. 

The first project, entitled ‘Lifted-flame combustion for high-hydrogen reheat gas turbines’, will explore the use of a natural gas and hydrogen mixture to power advanced gas turbines. 

With hydrogen capable of producing no carbon emissions when burned in a gas turbine, it is considered to be a fuel that offers ‘transformative value’ to gas turbine combined cycle (GTCC) combustion technology. 

Using this project, GE aim to break the current, materials-limited upper bound efficiency barriers for new gas turbines and installed base retrofits, creating a new GTCC growth trajectory. 

“Our goal of increasing gas turbine combined cycle plant efficiency by 5 or more percentage points in the next decade will position GE’s technology to help lead the energy transition,” commented Jeffrey Goldmeer, Emergent Technologies Director for Decarbonisation at GE Gas Power. 

Following its development at GE’s Gas Turbine Technology Center in Greenville, South Carolina, testing will take place at the Atlanta-based Georgia Institute for technology. 

“GE is pleased that ARPA-E has recognised the value of developing alternative methods to boost the efficiency of gas turbines powered by fuel blends with high percentage of hydrogen, and the potential to completely disrupt current cycle time, producibility limits and energy requirements for investment castings of turbine components,” commented John Intile, Vice President, Engineering, GE Power. 

The latter refers to the second project, entitled, ‘Manufacturing high-yield investment casting with minimal energy’. 

This project will use innovative casting technology to ‘fundamentally change’ the production of high-value metal components for gas turbines. 

By utilising 3D printed additive ceramic mold technologies and an innovative furnace development, cast parts could be produced using up to 90% less energy than traditional methods. 

Stating that the diverse energy mix of the future will demand more flexibility to fulfil GE’s customer needs, Tom Amond, Emergy Technology Incubator at GE added, “The proposed system of technologies, combining digital tooling, cutting edge additive ceramic mold printing, and lean flow casting technology, will enable us to respond rapidly while reducing our energy usage and carbon footprint.” 

To be developed in collaboration with DDM Systems, support for the project will be provided by the GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, New York. 

Having worked with GE over the past ten years to advance the investment casting of gas turbine components using 3D printed ceramic shells, DDM aims to modernise investment casting to produce castings ten time faster at half the cost without any tooling, wax patterns, and molded cores. 

“The enabler is DDM’s LAMP – one of the most sophisticated production-capable ceramic 3D printing technologies in the world,” commented Dr. Suman Das, Founder, CEO, DDM Systems.