Micro turbines are characterized by small turbines approximately the size of a refrigerator. It is not a new type of power generation since it has evolved over time. Multi-fuel micro-turbines perform the same function as other turbines, their only difference is size. As a result, they operate on the same thermodynamic cycle. At higher temperatures and optimum pressure, the machines are more efficient and produce a specified power.
Multi-fuel Micro-turbines today operate on a diversity of fuels, including sour gases, natural gas and liquid fuels such as diesel, kerosene and gasoline. Generally, these micro turbines have the potential to be used in disseminated energy generation due to their low maintenance cost, minimum space requirements, very low emission levels and high electric generation capability. The exhaust heat produced can be recovered and recycled in the following ways;
· Commercial and domestic water heating
· Drying and driving thermally activated equipment such as an absorption chiller, either directly or indirectly.
· Space heating
Multi-fuel micro-turbines characteristics
· The machines consist of systems that are generally single shaft models that normally operate at high speed to increase efficiency of power production. This power is converted to direct current and then stepped down for commercial purposes.
· Micro turbines in most domestic and commercial locations need a fuel gas booster to ensure that the turbine flow control works at an adequate fuel pressure. The booster requires only about five percent of the total micro-turbine output and as a result, the efficiency reduces and thus increasing the operational costs of the machine.
· Multi-fuel micro turbines systems have a size range of about 30 to 500 kilowatts. Contrary to combustion engines, the machine has few moving parts and therefore, there is reduced noise levels during working.
· The system has a high rotational speed due to the presence of a compressor, a combustion chamber and a heat exchanger.
· They are majorly used for providing temporary power on remote locations. This is because they are small in size and thus have high mobility. Moreover, they can also be installed permanently at various locations to provide vital power for a variety of applications.
The limited number of times the systems can be recycled on and off has been seen as the major disadvantage of micro turbines. During operation, each start up and shutdown adds operating hours leading to increased maintenance cost. As a result, it is always wise to leave the machines running once they are started.
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Conclusively, Multi-fuel Micro-turbines today that are operational have a great internal heat recovery rate which in turn diminishes the in-efficiency of heat generation. The total value of the internal heat recovery must be founded on both economic and thermodynamic basis. The recommended micro-turbine system is the one that has the highest annual heat efficiency. Micro-turbine based companies for residential, commercial and industrial applications must consider the following criteria during heat generation:
The electric and thermal loads should be coincident
A ratio of less than 0.5 is recommended for a good efficiency in generation for electric demand to thermal demand
The thermal energy loads should be in the form of hot water