Low NOx, High Efficiency Catalytic Combustor

Catalytic combustion offers gas turbines and other large combustion systems the potential to achieve high flame stability (with near-zero hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions) while also operating cool enough to have near-zero NOx emissions.  The result can be ultra-low emissions without efficiency penalty or the costs of post-combustion NOx controls, as well as substantially broadened low NOx turndown arising from improved flame stability.  Compared to the high costs of implementing post-combustion controls, our catalytic combuustor offers significant economic advantage to the combustor owner. 

Dr. William Pfefferle, PCI's chief scientist, invented the original catalytic combustor.  Over time, many parties have explored the concept but a perennial challenge to making commercial catalytic combustors has been the difficulty in achieving both high enough catalytic reaction while simultaneously avoiding catalytic over-reaction.  PCI’s patented technology is a breakthrough in this area that unlocks the long sought potential of catalytic combustion.

Conventionally, lean premixed combustion, the current dominant gas turbine combustor technology, balances high flame stability against cool maximum firing temperatures, achieving near-zero hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide levels while producing NOx in the high single digit ppm range.   If low single digit ppm NOx standards are to be met, then post-combustion controls such as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems are used.

The Catalytic combustor (sometimes called a catalytically-stabilized combustor) increases gas phase combustion stability by catalytically reacting a portion of the fuel, increasing overall gas phase reactivity and flame speed.  Reacting a portion of the fuel in the catalytic region of the combustor improves flame stability as well as creating the conditions for more rapid, complete combustion.  Extending flame stability provides many opportunities for gas turbines including the ability to burn lean enough to avoid NOx formation as well as achieve extended low NOx turndown.   In the case of PCI’s technology, the combustor’s fuel flexibility is also substantially broadened, plus the technology can burn low BTU fuels that otherwise would require supplementation.

We are developing the catalytic combustor in several designs for ultra-low emission power generation gas turbines (full catalytic combustor and catalytic pilot) as well as for microturbines, plus we are adapting the technology for specific other applications including IGCC oxyfuel combustor, and a downhole catalytic combustor - steam generator for the production of oil and gas.

Contact PCI to learn more about how our solutions may be adapted for your needs.