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Flexible Fuel Turbine System (FFTS)

Driven by the need to reduce green house gas emissions and the nation’s natural gas use, there is an urgent need to promote alternative fuels that are renewable.  A readily available resource that meets these criteria is biomass such as switch grass, crop waste and forest waste.  It is estimated that the energy from such sources could potentially displace up to 30% of the nation’s energy demand.

However, the low-energy content of these resources (100-200 BTU/ft3) makes them unsuitable for transportation for centralized power generation.  An alternative is to gasify such wastes at the source and generate electricity that can be used locally or readily fed back to the grid.  Recently, DOE has awarded a contract to develop an integrated system that enables conversion of biomass –primarily crop waste - to power.  The team includes Argonne National Laboratory, University of California-Irvine, Capstone Turbine and Packer Engineering.  The biomass feedstock will be gasified to generate synthesis gas, called syngas, which in turn is used as a fuel in a micro-turbine system to generate electricity.

Argonne plans to characterize the composition of syngas generated from different feedstock.  Also through tests conducted on Argonne’s Rapid Compression Machine the ignition and combustion characteristics will be established.  Subsequently, Capstone Turbine, the world’s largest manufacturer of micro-turbine systems, plans to develop the needed syngas injectors that enable extremely low-NOx emissions while avoiding flashback.  Capstone will incorporate such injectors into a 65 kW micro-turbine for use with syngas.  Argonne plans to assist Capstone with CFD simulations as well as by performing in-situ combustion imaging.  In parallel, Packer Engineering will develop a gasifier for use in US farms for a variety of biomass feedstock.  The integrated gasifier – micro-turbine system will be instrumented and evaluated for performance over a period of 6 months at Argonne.

FFTS Fig. 1

Technical Contact:

Munidhar Biruduganti,; Sreenath B. Gupta,



March 2010

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