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The forecast for distillate fuels in Canada projects a trend towards lower quality brought about by the falling demand for gasoline and heating oils and the increasing demand for aviation jet fuel and diesel fuel. The problem is compounded by the increasing aromaticity of the crude supply and the increasing volumes of heavy crudes being processed. The changes in quality predicted include a lower flash point, higher viscosity, broader distillation range, and lower cetane number, smoke point, and hydrogen content.
There is an urgent need to evaluate the power plant performance of such fuels, and as a first step, the Canadian Forces (Navy) have compared the performance of a Solar Saturn gas turbine when burning blends of tar sand crude fractions and a conventional diesel distillate.
No abnormal carbonization of the fuel injectors, or hot-end components, occurred when the engine was running on the tar sand blends. However, there was an increase in fuel consumption of between 4% at no load and 2% at full load, and associated decreases in combustion efficiency and increases in exhaust smoke level.
The combustor liner metal temperature increased by 30 deg Celsius at full power when the engine was running on either of the tar sand blends. These performance changes are attributed to the high aromatic content of tar sand products, and it may prove necessary to derate slightly certain types of gas turbines if they are required to operate on highly aromatic fuels.
alternative fuels, distillate fuels, gas turbine fuels, synthetic fuels, gas turbine operation
Head, Fuels and Lubricants Laboratory, National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
Fuels and lubricants specialist, Directorate of Maritime Engineering Support, National Defence Headquarters, Ottawa, Ontario
Special projects engineer, Naval Engineering Test Establishment, Montreal, Quebec