Gas Turbine Engines Usage, Turbines Naval Use, Turbines Commercial Use

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Gas Turbine Engine Usage is predominantly on ships, locomotives, helicopters, and in tanks.

A number of experiments have been conducted with gas turbine powered vehicles, automobiles and such.

A gas turbine engine extracts energy from a flow of hot gas produced by combustion of gas or fuel oil in a stream of compressed air.
This machine has a single-stage centrifugal compressor and turbine, a recuperator, and foil bearings
This machine has a single-stage centrifugal compressor and turbine, a recuperator, and foil bearings.
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It has an upstream air compressor (radial or axial flow) mechanically coupled to a downstream turbine and a combustion chamber in between. "Gas turbine" may also refer to just the turbine element.

Energy is released when compressed air is mixed with fuel and ignited in the combustor. The resulting gases are directed over the turbine's blades, spinning the turbine, and mechanically powering the compressor.

Finally, the gases are passed through a nozzle, generating additional thrust by accelerating the hot exhaust gases by expansion back to atmospheric pressure.

Energy is extracted in the form of shaft power, compressed air and thrust, in any combination, and used to power aircraft, trains, ships, electrical generators, and even tanks.

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Gas Turbine Automobiles

The Gas Turbine Automobiles started in 1950. Designer F.R. Bell and Chief Engineer Maurice Wilks from British car manufacturers Rover unveiled the first car powered with a gas turbine engine. The two-seater JET1 had the gas turbine engine positioned behind the seats, air intake grilles on either side of the car, and exhaust outlets on the top of the tail.

During tests, the car reached top speeds of 140 km/h, at a turbine speed of 50,000 rpm. The car ran on petrol, paraffin or diesel oil, but fuel consumption problems proved insurmountable for a production car.
Rover JET1
Rover JET1.

It is currently on display at the London Science Museum. Rover and the BRM Formula One team joined forces to produce a gas turbine powered coupe, which entered the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans, driven by Graham Hill and Richie Ginther. It averaged 107.8 mph (173 km/h) and had a top speed of 142 mph (229 km/h).

In 1967, the revolutionary STP Oil Treatment Special four-wheel drive turbine-powered special fielded by racing and entrepreneurial legend Andy Granatelli and driven by Parnelli Jones nearly won the Indianapolis 500; the STP Pratt & Whitney powered turbine car was almost a lap ahead of the second place car when a gearbox bearing failed just three laps from the finish line. In 1971 Lotus principal Colin Chapman introduced the Lotus 56B F1 car, powered by a Pratt & Whitney gas turbine. Chapman had a reputation of building radical championship-winning cars, but had to abandon the project because there were too many problems with turbo lag.

The fictional Batmobile is often said to be powered by a gas turbine engine or a jet engine. In fact, in 1989s filmed Batman, the production department built a working turbine vehicle for the Batmobile prop. Its fuel capacity, however, was reportedly only enough for 15 seconds of use at a time.

American car manufacturer Chrysler demonstrated several prototype gas turbine-powered automobiles from the early 1950s through the early 1980s.

Chrysler built fifty Chrysler Turbine Cars in 1963 and conducted the only consumer trial of gas turbine-powered cars.

In 1993 General Motors introduced the first commercial gas turbine powered hybrid vehicle—as a limited production run of the EV-1 series hybrid.
The STP Oil Treatment Special
The STP Oil Treatment Special on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, with the Pratt & Whitney gas turbine shown.

A Williams International 40 kW turbine drove an alternator which powered the battery-electric powertrain. The turbine design included a recuperator.

The arrival of the Capstone Microturbine has led to several hybrid bus designs from US and New Zealand manufacturers, starting with HEV-1 by AVS of Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1999, and closely followed by Ebus and ISE Research in California, and Designline in New Zealand. AVS turbine hybrids were plagued with reliability and quality control problems, resulting in liquidation of AVS in 2003. Today, the most successful design by Designline is now operated in 5 cities in 6 countries, with over 30 buses in operation worldwide.

It is worth noting that a key advantage of jet engines and turboprops for aeroplane propulsion - their superior performance at high altitude compared to piston engines, particularly naturally-aspirated ones - is irrelevant in automobile applications. Their power-to-weight advantage is far less important.

Gas turbines offer a high-powered engine in a very small and light package. However, they are not as responsive and efficient as small piston engines over the wide range of RPMs and powers needed in vehicle applications. In hybrids, gas turbines reduce the responsiveness problem, and the emergence of the continuously variable transmission may also help alleviate this. A recent idea is the 'Multi-Pressure' turbine proposed by Robin Mackay of Agile Turbines.

This concept is expected to provide three different power level ranges - each of them exhibiting high efficiency and low emission levels. The engine has two compressor spindles and an intercooler. By a system of three-way valves, it can be operated with both 'wings' in super atmospheric pressure mode (high power) or one 'wing' super atmospheric and the other sub atmospheric (cruising power) or both 'wings' in sub atmospheric mode (idling). Since there is no change in direction or speed of gas flow at transition from one power level to another (only mass flow changes) transition is almost instantaneous - thus overcoming the slow throttle response characteristic of gas turbines in land vehicle applications.

Turbines have historically been more expensive to produce than piston engines, though this is partly because piston engines have been mass-produced in huge quantities for decades, while small gas turbine engines are rarities; but turbines are mass produced in the closely related form of the turbocharger.

The MTT Turbine SUPERBIKE appeared in 2000 (hence the designation of Y2K Superbike by MTT) and is the first production motorcycle powered by a jet engine - specifically, a Rolls-Royce Allison model 250 turboshaft engine, producing about 283 kW (380 bhp). Speed-tested to 365 km/h or 227 mph (according to some stories, the testing team ran out of road during the test), it holds the Guinness World Records for most powerful production motorcycle and most expensive production motorcycle, with a price tag of US$185,000.

Gas turbine usage in military tanks has been more successful. In the 1950s, a Conqueror heavy tank was experimentally fitted with a Parsons 650-hp gas turbine, and they have been used as auxiliary power units in several other production models. The first production turbine tank was the Swedish Stridsvagn 103A. Today, the Soviet/Russian T-80 and U.S. M1 Abrams tanks use gas turbine engines. See tank for more details.

Several locomotive classes have been powered by gas turbines, the most recent incarnation being Bombardier's JetTrain. See gas turbine-electric locomotive for more information.

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Gas Turbines in Naval Use

Gas Turbines in Naval Usage is evident in many naval vessels, where they are valued for their high power-to-weight ratio and their ships' resulting acceleration and ability to get underway quickly. The first gas-turbine-powered naval vessel was the Royal Navy's Motor Gun Boat MGB 2009 (formerly MGB 509) converted in 1947. The first large, gas-turbine powered ships, were the Royal Navy's Type 81 (Tribal class) frigates, the first of which (HMS Ashanti) was commissioned in 1961.

The Swedish Navy produced 6 Spica class torpedoboats between 1966 and 1967 powered by 3 Bristol Siddeley Proteus 1282, each delivering 4300 hp. They were later joined by 12 upgraded Norrköping class ships, still with the same engines. With their aft torpedo tubes replaced by antishipping missiles they served as missile boats until the last was retired in 2005.Fast missile boat.

The Finnish Navy issued two Turunmaa class corvettes, Turunmaa and Karjala, in 1968. They were equipped with one 16 000 shp Rolls-Royce Olympus TMB3 gas turbine and two Wärtsilä marine diesels for slower speeds. Before the waterjet-propulsion Helsinki class missile boats, they were the fastest vessels in the Finnish Navy; they regularly achieved 37 knot speeds, but they are known to have achieved 45 knots when the restriction mechanism of the turbine was geared off. The Turunmaas were paid off in 2002. Karjala is today a museum ship in Turku, and Turunmaa serves as a flotating machine shop and training ship for Satakunta Polytechnical College.

The next series of major naval vessels were the four Canadian Iroquois class helicopter carrying destroyers first commissioned in 1972. They used 2 ft-4 main propulsion engines, 2 ft-12 cruise engines and 3 Solar Saturn 750 kW generators.

The first U.S. gas-turbine powered ships were the U.S. Coast Guard's Hamilton-class High Endurance Cutters the first of which (USCGC Hamilton) commissioned in 1967. Since then, they have powered the U.S. Navy's Perry-class frigates, Spruance-class and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, and Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers. USS Makin Island, a modified Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, is to be the Navy's first amphib powered by gas turbines.

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Gas Turbines in Commercial Use

The Gas Turbines in Commercial Usage include the Three Rolls-Royce gas turbines powering the 118 WallyPower, a 118-foot (36 m) super-yacht. These engines combine for a total of 16,800 hp allowing this 118-foot (36 m) boat to maintain speeds of 60 knots or 70mph.

There have been a number of experiments in which gas turbines were used to power seagoing commercial vessels. The earliest of these experiments may have been the oil tanker "Aurus" (Anglo Saxon Petroleum) - circa 1949.
Stena Carisma, an HSS 900 class gas turbine powered ferry
Stena Carisma, an HSS 900 class gas turbine powered ferry.

Between 1970 and 1982, Seatrain Container Lines operated a scheduled container service across the North Atlantic with four 26,000 tonne dwt. container ships.

Those ships were powered by twin Prat & Whitney gas turbines of the FT 4 series. The four ships in the class were named "Euroliner", "Eurofreighter", "Asialiner" and "Asiafreighter". They operated a transatlantic container service between ports on the eastern seaboard of the United States and ports in north west Europe. Following the dramatic OPEC price increases of the mid-nineteen seventies, operations were constrained by rising fuel costs.

Some modification of the engine systems on those ships was undertaken to permit the burning of a lower grade of fuel (i.e. marine diesel). The modifications were partially successful. It was proved that particular fuel could be used in a marine gas turbine but, savings made were less than anticipated due to increased maintenance requirements. After 1982 the ships were sold, then re-engined with more economical diesel engines. Because the new engines were much larger, there was a consequential loss of some cargo space.

The first passenger ferry to use a gas turbine was the GTS Finnjet, built in 1977 and powered with two Pratt & Whitney FT 4C-1 DLF turbines, generating 55000 kW and propelling the ship to a speed of 31 knots. However, the Finnjet also illustrated the shortcomings of gas turbine propulsion in commercial craft, as high fuel prices made operating her unprofitable. After just four years of service additional diesel engines were installed on the ship to allow less costly operations during off-season.

Another example of commercial Gas turbine usage in a passenger ship are Stena Line's HSS class fastcraft ferries. HSS 1500-class Stena Explorer, Stena Voyager and Stena Discovery vessels use combined gas and gas (COGAG) setups of twin GE LM2500 plus GE LM1600 power for a total of 68,000 kW. The slightly smaller HSS 900-class Stena Charisma, uses twin ABB–STAL GT35 turbines rated at 34,000 kW gross. The Stena Discovery was withdrawn from service in 2007, another victim of too high fuel costs.

The next series of major naval vessels were the four Canadian Iroquois class helicopter carrying destroyers first commissioned in 1972. They used 2 ft-4 main propulsion engines, 2 ft-12 cruise engines and 3 Solar Saturn 750 kW generators.

In July 2000, the Millennium became the first cruise ship to be propelled by gas turbines, in a COGAS configuration. The RMS Queen Mary 2 uses a CODAG configuration.

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Business Tips

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  • Don't underestimate the capital you need to start up the business.

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