Different Types of Gas Turbines and Their Functions

Propelling aircraft and driving various industrial applications, gas turbines have long been a cornerstone of power generation. These remarkable machines utilize the principles of thermodynamics to convert the energy stored in fuel into mechanical work. To better understand how they function, we will delve into the assembly of gas turbine engines and their different types, which will showcase their versatility and wide-ranging applications.

Understanding Gas Turbine Engines

Gas turbines are internal combustion engines that convert the chemical energy stored in fuel into mechanical energy by extracting power from a flowing gas stream. Furthermore, these engines operate on the Brayton cycle, which consists of four fundamental processes—compression, combustion, expansion, and exhaust—all of which we will be exploring in greater detail below.

  1. Compression: The process begins with an axial compressor that draws in atmospheric air and compresses it. The compressor itself consists of multiple stages of rotating blades; as a result of compressing the incoming air, these blades progressively increase the air pressure.
  2. Combustion: Once the air is compressed, it is mixed with fuel and ignited in the combustion chamber. From there, the burning fuel-air mixture releases an enormous amount of energy, producing high-temperature and high-pressure gasses.
  3. Expansion: Next, the hot gasses generated in the combustion chamber flow through a turbine where they expand and transfer their energy to the turbine blades. In particular, the turbine consists of multiple stages of stationary and rotating blades that extract energy from the expanding gasses, causing the turbine shaft to rotate.
  4. Exhaust: After passing through the turbine, the exhaust gasses exit the engine, either creating thrust or driving a load, depending on the model in use. In some applications, the exhaust gasses can be utilized for heating purposes or to further generate additional power.

Common Types of Gas Turbines

Gas turbines are widely classified into three main types: heavy frame, aeroderivative, and industrial gas turbines. Although their designs and applications differ, they all operate based on the fundamental principles outlined above.

  1. Heavy Frame Gas Turbines: Primarily used for large-scale power generation in utility plants and industrial facilities, heavy frame gas turbines are known for their high efficiency and power output. For this reason, they are designed for continuous operation and are commonly found in combined cycle power plants, where waste heat from the exhaust is captured and subsequently used to generate steam for additional power generation.
  2. Aeroderivative Gas Turbines: Derived from aircraft jet engines, aeroderivative gas turbines are lighter and more compact compared to heavy frame turbines, making them suitable for mobile and decentralized power generation applications. As a whole, aeroderivative turbines typically operate in marine propulsion, power plant, and oil and gas operations.
  3. Industrial Gas Turbines: Industrial gas turbines are designed for a wide range of industrial applications like power generation, mechanical drive systems, and cogeneration plants. In terms of power output, these turbines offer flexibility and can also operate on a variety of fuels, including natural gas, diesel, and biofuels.

Gas Turbines and Their Role in the Industry

Gas turbines play a vital role in the market by contributing to power generation, aviation, and industrial sectors. As well as providing a sustainable energy solution, their efficiency, reliability, and adaptability have made them indispensable in meeting the growing demand for electricity. In addition to their traditional use in power generation, gas turbines are also employed in other industries. For instance, they are used as the driving force in steam turbines for combined cycle power plants, in addition to serving as the power source for wind turbines in certain wind energy systems.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, gas turbines are formidable machines that harness the principles of thermodynamics to convert fuel energy into mechanical work. With various types of gas turbines available, their applications span from large-scale power generation to decentralized power systems. As a whole, these machines continue to drive progress in the energy industry, propelling us toward a cleaner, more efficient future.

If you are in need of dependable gas turbine parts, Aviation Distribution has you covered. With an inventory of over 6 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find products and a widespread network of trusted suppliers, we are well equipped to find a solution to all your parts procurement needs. Get started today by submitting the available Request For Quote (RFQ) form on our website with relevant details about your part needs, and expect to receive a custom quote for your comparisons on any of our offered items in just 15 minutes or less!


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