Robust Spark and Plasma Ignition Systems for Gas Turbine Main Combustors and Augmentors
ABSTRACT: The USAF has identified a series of potential problems created by the capability limits of the present ignition technology. These limits are most pronounced at high altitude where low pressure and vitiated air produce an ignition limited condition. Knite"s Kinetic Spark Ignition (KSI) is a transformational ignition technology which can be rapidly adopted and manufactured by existing DoD approved ignition manufacturers. Recent testing success on the USAF PDE project suggested KSI has significant potential to address the increased ignition need of turbine and augmentor applications. Knite proposes to expand on its Phase I work, focusing on experimentally characterizing the evolution KSI"s spark kernel at varying conditions and flow rates. This work will then be utilized in testing at augmentor relevant pressures and vitiation levels at HPCRF. The HPCRF work will be followed by high-fidelity rig tests to address an existing, fielded, augmentor light-off problem to determine if KSI has potential as an alternate solution. Finally, KSI will be tested on a turbine engine as an improved ignition source for the main combustor. Based on the scope of work TRL-5+ to TRL-6 in Phase II is probable and with the expressed industry support, Phase III of the project is likely. BENEFIT: Phase III of this SBIR will lead to Knite"s first product line for turbine/augmentor applications. The results of this SBIR will be directly applicable to other DoD turbine applications and if the need is present can be engine qualified for retrofit in existing product lines. Additionally, as improved ignition source, KSI has significant commercial market potential in turbine main combustors for organic fuel, lean combustion and enhanced relight capability. For industrial turbine applications, KSI may improve lean burn, and aid in natural gas and multi-fuel operations. The anticipated benefits from KSI based ignition system applications in reciprocating engine applications include improved fuel efficiency gains of 5% - 30%, reduction in greenhouse gases (including CO2) of 5% - 30%, and a reduction in harmful pollutants such as smog forming NOx of up to 80%. These benefits have been confirmed through 3rd party testing on various reciprocating engines. The highest barrier to entry for the reciprocating market is that KSI is an exciting but unproven technology. By KSI becoming a proven product in the aviation market through the SBIR program this major hurdle to entry into other markets is dramatically lowered.
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