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Lecture 11

Lecture 11: Combined Cycle, with Heat

Combined Heat and Power
When combustion engines are used only for generating electricity, most of the usable energy
from fuel combustion is lost in the form of heat resulting in systems that are only 20 - 30%
efficient. Generating systems can be made greater than 70% efficient by recovering and using
waste heat from the combustion process this strategy is more commonly known as
"Cogeneration" or "Combined Heat and Power."

Cogeneration, as discussed in previous lectures, where vapor power system used for district
heating (or cooling). The present applications build on recognizing that the exhaust gas
temperature of a simple gas turbine is typically well above ambient temperature and thus hot gas
exiting the turbine has significant thermodynamic utility that might be harnessed economically.

Combined Cycle, General

Combined cycle power generation combines two cycles for operation, namely the gas turbine
cycle (Brayton Cycle) and the vapor power (or Rankine) cycle.

In a gas turbine power plant, natural gas and compressed air undergo combustion. The resultant
high pressure gas drives the gas turbine which in turn produces electricity. Although it is clean
and fast in starting up, the gas turbine power plant suffers from low thermo efficiency of about 25
to 30%. Much of the energy is wasted in the form of gas turbine exhaust.

Figure 11.1: P-v, T s and Schematic of Air Standard Brayton Cycle

The hot exhaust gas from the gas turbine, instead of being released as waste, is captured and
channeled to the steam turbine where steam is heated by the exhaust to drive the turbine. The
combined cycle power generation makes use of the merits of the high temperature (1100 to
1650C) gas turbine cycle and the lower temperature (540 to 650C) steam turbine cycle.
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Lecture 11

Combined Cycle with Heat Recovery Boiler

In the gas turbine plant, atmospheric air enters

through the compressor and into the combustor
(or combustion chamber) where fuel (usually
natural gas) is added. Combustion takes place
and the hot gas drives the turbine, which in
turn drives the generator and produces

The gas turbine is usually operated with a high

air-fuel ratio, approximately 400 percent
theoretical air, to make sufficient air available
in the gas-turbine exhaust for further

The hot flue gas from the gas turbine enters a

heat exchanger, sometimes known as heat
recovery boiler or heat recovery steam
generator, where it is used to heat up the steam.
The superheated steam is then used to drive the
steam turbine which in turn drives the generator
to produce electricity. The exit steam from the
Figure 11.2: Combined gas turbinevapor power plant.
steam turbine goes through a condenser and
then back to the heat exchanger where the cycle repeats itself.

In large combined-cycle plants used foe base-load operation, where efficiency is of prime
importance, separate supplementary firing equipment is interposed between the gas turbine and
the heat recovery boiler. The steam-turbine output is usually greater than the gas-turbine output
by 8:1. The steam cycle is therefore designed for high efficiency with reheat and a full
complement of feedwater heaters. A forced draft fan may be installed ahead of the supplementary
firing to operate the steam cycle on its own when the gas turbine is off.

Variations of the cycle shown in Figure 11.2 are used to extract the maximum amount of energy
from the gas leaving the heat-recovery boiler before exhausting it to the stack. Depending upon
the temperature of that gas, it may be used for (1) partial heating (regeneration) of the compressed
air leaving the compressor, (2) feedwater heating of the steam cycle in a closed-type feedwater
heating, or (3) generating steam in a dual or multi-pressure steam cycle.

There are various types of combined cycle power generation, the most important of which

1. Combined cycle with supplementary firing,

2. Combined cycle with regeneration and/or feedwater heating,
3. Combined cycle with multi-pressure steam cycle,
4. Combined cycle for nuclear power plants.
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Lecture 11


The combined cycle has the gas turbines high average temperature of heat addition and the vapor
cycles low average temperature of heat rejection, and thus a thermal efficiency greater than
either cycle would have individually. For many applications combined cycles are a good choice,
and they are increasingly being used worldwide for electric power generation.

With reference to Fig. 11.2, the thermal efficiency of the combined cycle is

where is the net power developed by the gas turbine and is the net power developed by
the vapor cycle. denotes the total rate of heat transfer to the combined cycle, including
additional heat transfer, if any, to superheat the vapor entering the vapor turbine. The evaluation
of the quantities appearing in above equation follows the procedures described in the sections on
vapor cycles and gas turbines.

The relation for the energy transferred from the gas cycle to the vapor cycle for the system of Fig.
11.2 is obtained by applying the mass and energy rate balances to a control volume enclosing the
heat-recovery steam generator. For steady-state operation, negligible heat transfer with the
surroundings, and no significant changes in kinetic and potential energy, the result is

( ) ( )

where and are the mass flow rates of the gas and vapor, respectively.

As witnessed by relations such as above equations, combined cycle performance can be analyzed
using mass and energy balances.

Because gas turbines are not yet built in sizes as large as steam turbines, combined cycles are
often built in combinations of more than one gas turbine plus one steam turbine. Such
combinations show certain advantages, not only in higher total plant output but also in higher
availability, flexibility in service, and part-load efficiency.


A combined cycle power generation system offers many advantages.

As most combined cycle generation systems use natural gas as the fuel, the environmental
emissions are low. There is less pollution produced compared to conventional steam or gas
turbine power plants. As such, complex and expensive environmental control systems are not
needed. Transportation of fuel via pipelines is also easier than that of coal and oil.

The gas turbine portion of the combined cycle system is easy to install. This means a short
schedule of about 1 year from order to operation while the steam turbine portion can operate
within another year. This can provide the grid with power earlier than with other systems.
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Lecture 11

The combined cycle power generation system also offers quick part-load starting. For example,
the GE Model-7000 gas turbine is able to produce maximum output of 198MW within 30 minutes
while the steam turbine portion takes about an hour to operate from a cold start. It can operate
over a wide range of loads and is suitable for meeting peak power requirement and also base load.
Supplementary firing can be used to increase steam turbine output in times of increased output
demand. On the other hand, the gas turbine can be stopped when there is a decrease in demand.

It is also cheaper to build a combined cycle power plant than coal, nuclear or renewable energy
power plant. Its capital cost is lower than that of steam turbine plant.


The combined cycle power generation system is not without its disadvantages.

As natural gas is the fuel used, its higher cost compared to coal and oil will result in higher
operating cost. The system is also less flexible with regards to the types of fuel to be used, thus
this limit in resources means the supply of fuel is critical to the plant's operation.

Also, the combined cycle power generation system is a combination of two technologies, the
complexity will result in higher maintenance cost and also it will require highly skilled and better
trained operating staffs.

The capital cost of a combined cycle power generation plant is higher than that of gas turbine


There are many power generation systems available in the world. Although nuclear power plants
are clean and efficient, they are expensive and complex. They are also less easily accepted by the
population due to the experience of the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl incidents. On the other
hand, combined cycle power plants offer flexibility in terms of size and outputs, and are faster to
build than nuclear power plants. The ability to increase and decrease output on demand gives
combined cycle power plants an upper hand in the competitive power markets.

The Earth's supply of natural gas has been estimated to last 70-100 years, and as long as natural
gas price remains low, combined cycle power generation will have the competitive edge against
other forms of generation. Also, with advancement in technology, the capital cost of combined
cycle generation has dropped from US$600/kW in 1990 to less than US$350/kW today.

Studies in the United Kingdom have also predicted that by 2050, 40 - 50% of UK's power supply
will be dominated by combined cycle power plants.

From these, with continual improvement to the system, we can see that combined cycle power
generation will become the mainstay in the power industry for at least the next few decades.