Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gas Turbine Efficiency Research

As reported by the Houston Chronicle, the House of Representatives passed a bill to fund research into improving the efficiency of natural gas power turbines operating at 2,600 degrees from 60% to 65%.  Higher efficiency turbines allow more of the gas to be converted into power and less to be lost.  An similar research effort in the early 1990's boosted efficiencies between 2,300 and 2,600 degrees to 60%, a significant improvement at the time.

There are those who balk at government supported research and development, but this to me is money well spent.  First, we should always strive to make electricity production more efficient.  Using less of any fuel to create the same amount of power is always better, and simple efficiencies can be scaled up to create huge savings.  Second, this is another spoke in the wheel for natural gas.  If gas is to be the go-to fuel for the next few decades, it should be married to the latest technology.  Third, the energy technology business is very competitive internationally and is one of the few real growth industries out there. Where other nations are taking the lead in solar and wind technology, I don't see anyone leading in natural gas.  Just like we are in a position to export our shale exploration technolgy throughout the world, we should also export our gas-power generation technolgy.  It's another opportunity for the U.S. to take the lead.

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