Research conducted at the supercritical (SC) facility of MIT’s Energy Laboratory provided visual confirmation of a single phase, homogeneous water/fuel mixture near the critical temperature and pressure of water. This mixture was subsequently burned under atmospheric spray conditions with very low NOx, smoke, CO, and HC. Larger supercritical fuel systems were developed and tested in a 300 hp combustion turbine combustor simulator, and a 30 kW microturbine. Early results comparing combustion of this water/fuel mixture with standard #2 fuel operation in the 30 kW turbine generator were uniformly positive. At full load conditions, levels of under 2.5 parts per million (ppmv) of NOx were achieved, over 90% lower than the baseline emissions, with CO emissions under 5 ppmv. These emission levels were in fact lower than those recorded at full load with a similar model microturbine, fueled with natural gas. These low levels were achieved without the increase in CO that is typically observed with water injection. It is suspected that these results are caused not only by thermal effects of the steam but by altering reactions in the flame.

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