The 5th International Symposium - Supercritical CO2 Power Cycles
March 28-31, 2016, San Antonio, Texas
Conceptual Designs of 50MWe and 450MWe Supercritical CO2 Turbomachinery Trains for Power
Generation from Coal. Part 1: Cycle and Turbine
Rahul A. Bidkar (a), Andrew Mann (a), Rajkeshar Singh (a), Edip Sevincer (a), Stefan Cich (b), Meera Day (b),
Chris D Kulhanek (b), Azam M Thatte (a), Andrew M. Peter (a), Doug Hofer (a), Jeff Moore (b)
(a) General Electric Company, GE Global Research, One Research Circle, Niskayuna, NY 12309 USA
(b) Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Box 28510, Division 18, San Antonio, TX 78228 USA
Supercritical CO2 power cycles could be a more efficient alternative to steam Rankine cycles for power
generation from coal. However, CO2 turbomachinery for this application has not yet been designed. This
paper summarizes a scale-up of the 10MWe Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and General Electric
(GE) Sunshot CO2 turbine design to the maximum size possible, nominally about 50MWe. The
thermodynamic cycle and turbine design are described. This non-reheat recompression cycle can
achieve >49% cycle efficiency at ISO conditions with wet cooling. Scale-up of the Sunshot turbine
beyond 50MWe is limited by the availability of long, large diameter rotor forgings and requires a change
to an assembled rotor design. A clean-sheet conceptual design of a 450MWe assembled turbine rotor is
also presented. It appears possible to package this reheat turbine rotor into a single casing at 3600 rpm
and still maintain rotordynamic stability. This reheat recompression cycle can achieve 51.9% cycle
efficiency. To achieve this high efficiency, a key turbomachinery technology gap is large-diameter film-
riding end seals. On the system side, efficient recovery of the flue gas thermal energy with >500oC CO2
feed temperature is required to translate the high cycle efficiency into a high net plant efficiency.
Closed-loop recompression Brayton cycles using supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) as a working fluid
have been proposed to replace steam for power generation from pulverized coal . The primary
benefit to using sCO2 as a working fluid in such a cycle is that it can achieve higher thermal cycle
efficiency (up to 5 points ) at the equivalent turbine inlet conditions of state-of-the-art
ultrasupercritical steam plants. This efficiency gain is due to the transfer of thermal energy from coal
combustion to the sCO2 power cycle at a higher average temperature than in a comparable steam cycle.
Additional benefits include reduced water consumption, reduced power block size (smaller
turbomachinery and condenser due to the higher working fluid density), and better thermodynamic
integration with post-combustion CO2 capture and compression equipment as shown by Moullec .
These benefits make sCO2 turbomachinery an attractive possibility for power generation. In this Part-1
paper, optimized thermodynamic cycles for indirectly-fired sCO2 power plants are presented for 50 MWe
and 450 MWe scales along with turbine layouts for these scales. In a companion Part-2 paper ,
compressor and recompressor layouts intended for direct coupling with the 450 MWe turbine are
presented. The turbine layout discussed in this Part-1 paper and the compressor/recompressor layout
discussed in the Part-2 paper  together are intended to demonstrate feasibility of an indirectly-fired
utility-scale coal-based power plant with sCO2 as the working fluid.
Turbomachinery development for large-scale SCO2 recompression cycles is still in its infancy. The state-
of-the-art development has been focused on integrated system-level demonstration at small scales
(<1MW), and on turbomachinery development at intermediate scale (nominally 10MW). The RCBC at
Sandia National Laboratories  and the IST at Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation  are examples
of small-MW scale (< 1 MW) integrated recompression Brayton cycle demonstration loops. Apart from
these small-MW scale efforts, there are two intermediate-scale sCO2 turbomachinery development
programs: the Echogen EPS100 for waste heat recovery applications  and the General Electric (GE)
Sunshot expander for concentrated solar power (CSP) applications developed under the Southwest
Research Institute (SwRI) and GE Sunshot program [6, 7]. The EPS100 utilizes radial inflow turbines to
generate nominally 8 MWe gross from a 530oC gas turbine exhaust waste heat source . Radial turbine
technology is not likely to be optimal for multi-100MW utility-scale coal-fired power generation plants
. The SwRI/GE Sunshot program [6, 7] is therefore developing axial expander technology with 715oC
turbine inlet temperatures for CSP power generation. In this paper, the SwRI/GE Sunshot turbine
architecture [6, 7] is extended to 50 MWe scale to demonstrate scalability of the design to such
intermediate power scales. Furthermore, limitations of this intermediate-scale turbine architecture are
discussed in the context of utility scales (nominally 500 MWe) and a clean sheet turbine layout is
presented for the 450 MWe scale.
The turbine layouts for the 50 MWe and the 450 MWe scale presented in this paper are a result of
several design considerations. These include thermodynamic cycle optimization, material
considerations, turbine flow-path optimization, mechanical stress calculations and rotordynamic
stability considerations. In this paper, these design considerations are discussed along with their
interactions. The design process is constrained by availability of materials (both size limitations and
strength limitations), lack of maturation in key technologies like turbine end seals or high-temperature
furnace regenerative air preheaters. Such limitations in current technology and their role in enabling
sCO2 cycles for utility-scale power generation are also discussed in this paper.
The design process starts with a thermodynamic cycle with assumed performances for the power plant
components including turbines, compressors and heat exchangers (heaters, recuperators, condensers).
The thermodynamic cycles for both the 50 MWe and the 450 MWe designs are discussed in Section 2.
The thermodynamic cycle optimization allows the computation of overall thermodynamic cycle
efficiency. Additionally, it provides flow conditions and efficiency specifications that act as a starting
point for design of individual components including turbines and compressors. In Section 3,
aerodynamic flow-path optimization is presented for the 50 MWe and 450 MWe designs. Rotor material
availability, manufacturability and gearbox availability play a key role in determining the aerodynamic
flow-path architecture. These constraints are discussed in Section 3 along with the architecture
differences between the 50 MWe and the 450 MWe turbines. In Section 4, mechanical design
calculations, axial sizing calculations and rotordynamic studies are presented for the turbine rotors. Key
technologies needed for enabling sCO2 cycles for utility-scale power generation are highlighted in
Section 5. Finally, a summary of the present work is described in Section 6.
2. THERMODYNAMIC CYCLE DESIGN
In this section, the assumptions and the underlying recompression cycle used for the turbine layout
design are described. The thermodynamic cycle performance is sensitive to the main compressor inlet
conditions, which can change depending on the ambient conditions and cooling system. The site
assumptions are taken from the U.S. Dept. of Energy fossil-energy performance baseline document ,
which defines a greenfield Midwestern USA site with ISO design point conditions (15oC, 60% relative
humidity) and mechanical draft evaporative cooling towers as a baseline plant. At these conditions, CO2
can be condensed prior to the main compressor inlet. Another crucial assumption is that there are no
integration constraints imposed on the power cycle design by the furnace, emissions cleanup, or any
future potential carbon capture systems. Specifically, it is assumed that furnace design with high CO2
feed temperatures is possible. Furthermore, the power cycle is designed to maximize thermodynamic
cycle efficiency (the efficiency of perfect adiabatic heat addition converted to electric power) without
any restrictions on the primary heater caused by the present unavailability of high-temperature air
preheaters. High-temperature regenerative air preheaters are a key technology gap that would affect
the overall plant cycle efficiency, but this specific technology gap is not addressed in the present work.
Figure 1 (a) Recompression cycle for the 50 MWe turbine, and (b) recompression cycle with reheat for the 450 MWe turbine.
Note that the relative position of turbines and compressors as shown above is different from the actual single-shaft layout.
COMP - main compressor, RECOMP - recompressor, T - turbine, GEN -generator, RECUPTR - recuperator, HPT – high-pressure
turbine, LPT – low-pressure turbine
The thermodynamic cycle modeling was performed using Aspen HYSYS V8.6 with REFPROP as the fluid
package. In Figure 1a, a simplified recompression CO2 cycle is shown for the 50MWe turbine, while in
Figure 1b, a reheat recompression CO2 cycle is shown for the 450 MWe turbine. Starting at the main
compressor inlet (state 1) CO2 is compressed to a high pressure, heated by the low-temperature
recuperator (state 2), the high-temperature recuperator (state 3), and the heater (state 4), and
expanded through a turbine (state 5) to produce work. In the case of the 450 MWe turbine, the
expansion first occurs across a high-pressure turbine (state 5), followed by reheating (state 6 in Figure
1b), and expansion across the low-pressure turbine (state 7 in Figure 1b). The turbine exhaust is then
cooled by the high-temperature recuperator (state 8), the low-temperature recuperator (state 9) and
then cooled in the condenser.
Recompression occurs between the hot-side exit of the low-temperature recuperator and the cold-side
inlet of the high-temperature recuperator. Only a fraction of the CO2 is recompressed and the remaining
goes through the condenser and the main compressor. The separation between the low-temperature
recuperator and the high-temperature recuperator is defined by an intermediate temperature, which is
set by the exit temperature of the recompressor. The advantage of a recompression cycle is the ability
to optimize recuperation. Recompression allows the two streams in the low-temperature recuperator to
have different mass flows, which is used to compensate for the difference in the specific heats of the
The cycle models shown in Figure 1a and Figure 1b are simplified representations of the actual models,
which include other secondary flows. Specifically, the secondary flows include various purge flows (for
the main compressor, recompressor, and turbine) and seal leakage flows (turbine end seals,
compressors end seals, turbine and compressor balance piston seals) that affect the cycle efficiency. The
turbine balance piston is used to decrease the net thrust load for the 50 MWe turbine, and the leakage
across it bypasses the turbine. The 450 MWe turbine is a dual-flow turbine and does not need a balance
piston for thrust management. Balance piston seal leakage is thus modeled for the 50 MWe turbine and
absent for the 450 MWe turbine. Balance piston seal leakage is modeled for the
compressor/recompressor for both the 50 MWe as well as the 450 MWe cases. The seal leakages from
the ends of the turbines and compressors leak out of the casing and expand to near atmospheric
pressure. Unlike closed-loop steam Rankine cycles, low-pressure CO2 (that has leaked past the turbine or
the compressor end seal) cannot be condensed to liquid and recovered through a liquid feed pump
because it’s pressure is below the triple point (5.2 bar) of CO2. Consequently, the CO2 that has leaked
past the end seal must be compressed as a vapor from near atmospheric pressure conditions back to the
main compressor inlet pressure. The compression of the leaked fluid results in a penalty on the cycle
efficiency, which is modeled in this work. A sub-cooler and liquid column were added to the cycle to
improve the efficiency and prevent cavitation in the main compressor. The column of liquid was added
by modeling the condenser to be physically located ten meters above the main compressor inlet sump.
The thermodynamic cycle design includes many component-level assumptions; these include
component efficiencies, approach temperatures, leakage flows, and pressure drops. The values for these
assumptions were chosen based on experience from the Sunshot design . The cycle design is an
iterative process, which starts with guessed values for efficiencies for turbines and compressors. The
resulting cycle analysis with guessed efficiencies provides pressure, temperature and flow specifications
for the turbines and compressors. The turbine design (described later in this paper) and the
compressor/recompressor design (described in the companion Part-2 paper ) yield the actual
efficiencies that are then used to update the thermodynamic cycle. Table 1 lists several key performance
metrics and nominal cycle conditions for both thermodynamic cycles. The 50 MWe cycle results in a
49.6% efficient cycle, while the 450 MWe reheat cycle has an efficiency of 51.9%. For the 450 MWe cycle,
it was found that that reheating was responsible for an additional 1.1% efficiency gain compared to a
450 MWe cycle without reheating. Also note that the efficiency numbers reported here assume dry gas
seals for the turbine and compressor shaft-end seals (with leakage less than < 0.02% turbine mass flow)
on the shaft ends of turbines and compressors. For the 450 MWe turbine, existing sealing technology
(labyrinth seals) cannot provide such low-leakage performance and remains a key technology gap for
enabling the 51.9% cycle efficiency.
Table 1 Cycle parameters for the 50 MWe and the 450 MWe cycles
50 MWe cycle
450 MWe cycle
Heater duty (& Reheater duty)
Main & Recompressor power usage
Cycle net electric power
Thermodynamic Cycle efficiency
3. TURBINE LAYOUT AND AERODYNAMIC FLOW-PATH DESIGN
In this section, aerodynamic flow-paths and turbine layouts are presented for the 50 MWe and 450 MWe
designs. The design tool used for the aerodynamic flow-path design is a GE in-house one-dimensional
(1D) aero tool, which is briefly described in this section. After this, the layout constraints for the 50 MWe
design are discussed along with the turbine layout resulting from the 1D GE aero tool. Following this, the
layout constraints for the 450 MWe design are discussed and the turbine layout resulting from the 1D GE
aero tool is presented.
3.1 Flow-path design tool
Turbine flow-path layout is the product of an iterative process using a GE in-house 1D aero tool. The
inputs to this design tool include a set of corner points defining the geometry, reaction rate and
enthalpy drop for each of the stages. This is in addition to turbine speed, desired mass flow and inlet
total conditions, ideal gas properties and other geometry parameters such as tip clearance and blade
trailing edge thicknesses. The process is started with an approximation to flow-path geometry (corner
points) along with enthalpy and reaction rates using stage loading and work coefficients as guidelines.
The design calculation results in stage-by-stage flow conditions that are then compared with the target
exit total pressure and exit flow angles. Subsequent iterations are made by updating the flow-path
geometry, reaction rates and enthalpy drop, using the flow and work coefficients as guidelines.
The output of the 1D design tool provides the number of stages and turbine layout geometry including
the number of blades, the stage axial spacing, blade radial height and the mean flow-path. Additionally,
the output of the 1D tool is used to generate airfoil cross sections. Three radial cross sections were
created for each blade and stacked along the center-of-gravity to create the final 3D airfoil surfaces. The
3D geometry was created only for the first and last stage blade rows to perform mechanical analysis. In
the next two subsections, we describe the layout and material constraints for the 50 MWe and the 450
3.2 Turbine layout for the 50 MWe scale
For the 50 MWe design, the turbomachinery technology is scaled up from the 10 MWe SwRI/GE Sunshot
turboexpander [6, 7] without a complete redesign effort. One of the goals of the present work is to
show scalability of the 10-MWe-Sunshot architecture [6, 7] to intermediate power ratings up to 50 MWe.
Due to the unavailability of high-speed generators in the 50 MWe power range, a gearbox was selected
to connect one end of the high-speed rotating axial turbine to a synchronous generator. Feasibility
discussions with gearbox manufacturers resulted in the conclusion that design of a 50 MW gearbox with
speed reduction from 12,000 rpm to 3600 rpm is possible. On the opposite side of the turbine, a flexible
coupling can be used to connect the high-speed main compressor and recompressor spinning at the
same speed as the turbine. Availability of high-speed flexible couplings  for the power and speed
range of interest was verified for both the generator as well as the compressor ends.
A key feature of the 50 MWe design is that the turbine rotor is manufactured out of a single forging of
high-strength nickel alloy. This imposes a limit on the maximum turbine tip diameter due to forging size
limitations. The high inlet temperature (700oC) presents challenging requirements of strength and
environmental resistance, and the number of candidate alloys at these temperatures is extremely
limited. Material Haynes282 (H282) was chosen within available options of other nickel-based alloys due
to size availability. Long H282 forgings with diameters in the 8 to 16 inches range can be produced
successfully by straight forging, whereas for forgings above 16 inches diameter, at least one upset
operation needs to be considered. In order to obtain uniform grain sizes and material properties suitable
for a high-speed rotating shaft, the maximum blade diameter was limited to 16 inches.
From a turbomachinery efficiency standpoint, high rotational speeds are desirable. However, oil-
lubricated bearings are limited by surface speeds (typically 100 to 110 m/s), which implies that the shaft
diameter (at the bearing) needs to be small to accommodate the large rotational speeds. Additionally,
the torque capability (and thereby power capability) of the turbine is driven by the shaft diameter, the
material strength and the fault-torque safety factor. Overall, this implies that increasing rotational
speeds lead to a reduction in the bearing diameter and the torque (power) capability. For a 50 MW
power transmission with H282 as the choice of rotor material, this implies that a maximum turbine
speed of 9500 RPM with the corresponding shaft diameter (at the bearing) of 8.7 inches is possible.
Figure 2 Solid model representation of the 50 MWe turbine rotor. TPB - tilt pad bearing, SEAL - turbine end seal, BP - balance
piston, TC - thrust collar
The choice of using a single forging for the rotor combined with the forging size limitations (for H282)
set an upper limit of 16 inches on the flow-path diameter. On the other hand, the bearing surface speed
and material strength considerations result in a lower limit (8.7-inch bearing diameter) on the flow-path
diameter along with a speed limit of 9500 rpm. These speed and flow-path constraints were combined
with the flow conditions from the thermodynamic cycle to obtain an axial turbine flow-path with single-
flow architecture, 6 stages, 9500 rpm and a constant 16-inch tip diameter. The resulting isentropic aero
efficiency of the turbine was predicted to be 90.3%. The 50MWe turbine layout is shown in Figure 2. The
mechanical analysis and axial sizing of this layout are discussed in the next section after the 450 MW e
3.3 Turbine layout for the 450 MWe scale
For the 450 MWe design, a clean-sheet conceptual design was performed. Several different
turbomachinery layout choices were considered during the study. The primary constraint at the 450
MWe scale is that gearboxes that allow power transmission from high speeds to the two possible
generator speeds of either 3600 rpm (synchronous) or 1800 rpm (sub-synchronous) are not available.
Consequently, the turbine speeds are restricted to either 3600 rpm or 1800 rpm. With these two
options for the turbine speed, three concepts of the turbomachinery layout exist depending on the
rotational speed of the compressor and recompressor. In Table 2, three choices of shaft configuration
and speed combinations are listed. It is clear that a single-shaft, single-speed layout (concept # 1) is a
good compromise to achieve both efficiency and lower costs.
Table 2 Turbine-compressor architecture choices for the 450 MWe scale
For the 450 MWe design, a dual-flow layout was selected for both the high-pressure turbine (HPT) and
the low-pressure turbine (LPT) because of the efficiency loss expected from the balance piston leakage
Rationale for down-selection
Single shaft; turbine
compressors & generator
on one single shaft
connected to one
another using couplings
Both turbine & compressors run at
this speed. Compressor efficiency is
better than concept # 2, but less
than concept # 3.
Single shaft; turbine
compressors & generator
on one single shaft
connected to one
another using couplings
Both turbine & compressor run at
this speed. The compressor
efficiency is poor compared to
Concept # 1 due to low speed
Dual shaft; turbine
coupled with a
generator, a separate
high speed turbine
coupled to the
3600 rpm for one
shaft, higher speed
for the compressor
Efficiency for the compressor is
better. This option has drawbacks of
additional cost associated with
bearings, seals, separate turbine
casings. Also starting the plant
needs special equipment (additional
in a single-flow layout. Furthermore, the HPT and the LPT can be either accommodated in a single casing
or split into two separate casings. The former choice leads to material cost savings and fewer
components (seals, bearings) and is the preferred choice. The trade-off is that both turbines are
supported on a single bearing span, which could affect the rotordynamic stability. In this paper,
rotordynamic analysis (discussed later) is used to show that a configuration where both the HPT and the
LPT are combined into a single casing and supported on a single bearing span is possible.
In summary, the 450 MWe layout consists of a single-shaft machine (spinning at 3600 rpm) with the LPT
and HPT (both dual-flow configurations) in a single casing. These turbines are directly coupled with a
compressor/recompressor train, which will be housed in a separate single casing. The 450 MWe turbine
layout is shown below after discussing other layout constraints that drive the flow-path design.
Similar to the 50 MWe design, material H282 was selected for the 450 MWe turbine due to the high inlet
temperature (700oC) and environmental resistance concerns associated with carbon steel (typically used
in traditional steam turbine rotors). H282 forgings are available up to 44-inch diameter with 12-inch
axial thickness. The small axial length of the forgings implies that neighboring stages of the turbine will
need to be coupled with one another. In this aspect, the 450 MWe design is different from the 50 MWe
design, where the entire turbine rotor and turbine blades (that are integral with the rotor) can be
machined from a single H282 forging. Friction/bolted-flange coupling and Hirth coupling were explored
as possible methods for the stage-to-stage coupling. However, these coupling choices did not show
promising results. Consequently, a configuration where neighboring turbine stages are welded to form a
long rotor was selected. Another key difference of the 450 MWe design from the 50 MWe design is that
the 450-MWe-turbine blades will be attached to the rotor using dovetails.
From a shear stress and torque capability perspective, it is desirable to choose a large turbine shaft
diameter. Similar to the 50 MWe case, practical limits on bearing surface speeds and material forging
sizes restrict the largest bearing diameter that can be chosen. With 110 m/s as the largest possible
surface speed at the bearings, and with 3600 rpm as the rotational speed, the turbine shaft diameter at
the bearing is calculated to be 23 inches. Thus, the turbine shaft diameter needs to be at least 23 inches
(from the bearing diameter constraint) and turbine blade diameter can be at most 44 inches (from the
material availability constraint). With additional space constraints imposed by interstage seals, the
design team recommended a turbine aero flow-path with minimum blade diameter of 30 inches. These
speed and flow-path constraints were combined with the flow conditions from the thermodynamic cycle
to obtain a 4-stage dual-flow HPT and a 3-stage dual-flow LPT as shown in Figure 3. The bearing span is
about 262 inches with a nominal shaft diameter of 26 inches resulting in a length/diameter (L/D) ratio
slightly over 10. The resulting isentropic efficiency of the HPT was predicted to be 90.6% and that of the
LPT was predicted to be 91.6%. In this layout (see Figure 3), the high-pressure, high-temperature CO2
enters the turbine at the center span between the two HPTs and expands symmetrically on both sides.
After expanding through the 4-stage HPT, the CO2 is sent to the reheater and introduced again at the
inlet of the LPT, where it further expands through the 3-stage LPT. The dual-flow architecture ensures
that net thrust is balanced. Note that all four turbines are housed in a single casing supported on single
bearing span. This architecture is possible due to the high density of CO2. With other working fluids like
steam, this type of single-casing architecture is expected to yield a larger length-to-diameter (L/D) ratio,
thereby causing rotordynamic stability issues. The 3D geometries created for the first-stage HPT blade
and the last-stage LPT blade are shown in Figure 4. In this next section, we discuss mechanical design
aspects of the 50 MWe and the 450 MWe turbine layouts shown above.
Figure 3 Solid model representation of a 450 MWe turbine concept with dual flow turbines and reheat. CP1 -
generator-side coupling, TPB - tilt-pad bearing, LPT - low-pressure turbine, HPT - high-pressure turbine, TC -
thrust collar, CP2 - compressor-side coupling
Figure 4 Solid model representation of turbine blades for the 450 MWe scale (a) 1-st stage blade of the HPT and (b) 3rd stage
blade of the LPT
4. TURBINE MECHANICAL DESIGN
Following the generation of the aero flow-path discussed above, a mechanical assessment of the aero
design was conducted. The assessment methodology is similar for both the 50 MWe and the 450 MWe
Mechanical stresses induced in rotating blades by aerodynamic forces (root bending stresses) and
rotational forces (pull loads) were calculated using GE Design Practices (DPs). These stresses were
compared with the material limits (creep, rupture, ultimate tensile and yield properties) using criteria
specified in the GE DPs. The airfoil design went through a number of iterations to meet geometric design
criteria in terms of shape and form factor of the buckets. GE proprietary calculators were used for
prediction of life for these blades. The final design meets the allowable stress for a specified rotor/blade
life of 250,000 hours (about 30 years). Since the material H282 can withstand the stress requirements of
the rotating blades, a turbine architecture where both the blades and the rotor are fabricated from a
single forging of H282 was finalized for the 50 MWe design. For the 450 MWe design, the dovetail joint
between the turbine blades and rotor was analyzed using GE DPs. The radial height of the dovetails was
small enough to allow for a 26-inch shaft diameter with a 30-inch turbine blade inner diameter. The 3D
blade geometry shown in Figure 4 for the 450 MWe design meets the life requirements design criteria
defined in GE DPs.
Next, the axial sizing and rotor stress analysis is described for the 450 MWe scale. Similar sizing
methodology and analysis were also used for the 50 MWe design. Apart from the axial space needed for
the two LPTs and the two HPTs, the turbine rotor needs axial space for accommodating a thermal
management system, the inlet and exit plenums for each turbine, the dry gas seals and the bearings. In
Figure 5, the solid model of the 450 MWe turbine rotor is shown with the two LPT sections, two HPT
sections, the two dry gas seals, two bearings, a thrust collar and one coupling on either side. The
different axial sections of the rotor are labeled 1 through 10. A justification for the axial lengths of each
of those sections is presented below.
The axial sizing of section 1 (generator coupling) and section 10 (compressor coupling) is based on F-
type Ameridrives flanged sleeve coupling  that meet the respective torque requirements. The axial
length for the section 2 (i.e. the radial tilt-pad bearing) is estimated from the bearing diameter along
with typical aspect ratio for such bearings. Section 3 (i.e. the dry gas seal) is assumed to need 16 inches
axial space. This assumption becomes a requirement for the seal design for this utility-scale turbine
Figure 5 Solid model of the 450 MWe rotor. CP1 -- Generator Coupling, TPB -Tilt Pad Bearing, DGS - Dry Gas Seal,
LPT - Low Pressure Turbine, HPT - High Pressure Turbine, TC – Thrust Collar, CP2 - Compressor Coupling
Section 4 (i.e. the LPT exit) needs to accommodate an exit diffusor (sized using GE DPs) and a thermal
management section. The thermal management section is intended to reduce the axial temperature
along the rotor from the LPT exit temperature to a lower temperature allowable for the dry-gas seals.
The axial space needed for Section 5 (i.e. the LP turbine) is based on the LPT flow-path design. Section 6
(i.e. the LPT inlet and the HPT exhaust) were sized using GE DPs to accommodate the HPT exit diffuser.
The axial space needed for Section 7 (i.e. the HP turbine) is based on the HPT flow-path design
presented earlier. Section 8 is axially sized to accommodate HPT inlet using GE DPs. Note that section 4,
section 6 and section 8 also need to accommodate inlet plenums (that receive CO2 from the heater or
the reheater) and the exit plenums (that send CO2 to the reheater or the high-temperature recuperator).
Piping to the turbine casing that connects with these inlet and exit plenums were sized to minimize flow
losses during operation. Since this is a dual flow machine, the thrust load is inherently balanced. For
designing the thrust bearing, the thrust-bearing requirement was set such that it can support 10% of the
combined one-side thrust of the HPT and the LPT. The thrust bearing was sized by scaling commercially
available thrust bearings . Overall, this leads to a turbine rotor of axial length (bearing to bearing) of
about 262 inches with L/D ratio slightly above 10. Next, the stress calculations for the rotor are
described followed by the rotordynamic stability analysis.
Using the power produced at every turbine stage, the power supplied to the generator and the power
consumed by the compressors, a torque diagram of the turbine shaft was generated. This torque
diagram is shown in Figure 6 along with the layout of the turbine rotor. The shear stress induced by the
torque is calculated at different axial locations and is also plotted in Figure 6. Apart from this shear
stress, the rotor is also subjected to axial stress caused by the thrust load, radial stress caused by a
combination of blade pull loads and centrifugal loads, and a tangential hoop stress due to rotation.
Stress calculations combining these different loads show that the rotor has margin against creep failure
and an adequate factor of safety for the torque-induced shear stress. Overall, from a stress perspective,
a 3-stage dual-flow LPT and a 4-stage dual flow HPT turbine is feasible. A rotordynamic stability analysis
of the 450 MWe turbine rotor is presented next.
Figure 6 Torque and shear stress distribution at various axial locations of the rotor
Rotordynamic stability of the 450 MWe turbine rotor was analyzed using the XLTRC2 software developed
by Texas A&M University . The solid model of the 450 MWe turbine rotor was used as a starting
point for geometry definition. The turbine rotordynamic model is shown in Figure 7. Beam elements
were used to model the rotor stiffness, and lumped inertia values were used to model the turbine
blades. Mass-only elements were used for the thrust disk and coupling half-weights were added as
mass. Tip seals and interstage seals were modeled using GE and SwRI design practices. Tilt-pad journal
bearings were used with bearing stiffness calculations performed using THPAD bearing code, which is
part of the ROMAC rotordynamic codes. Three different rotordynamic configurations were analyzed: (a)
a configuration with rigid bearing support, (b) a configuration with rigid bearings and reduced coupling
weight, and (c) a configuration with soft support and squeeze film dampers. The results of these
analyses are briefly described below.
The undamped critical speed map for the turbine rotor with a rigid bearing support shows that the first
mode (1000 rpm) and the third mode (4600 rpm) are away from the operating speed (3600 rpm), but
the second mode (3400 rpm) is very close to the operating speed. We analyzed the forced response of
this system and found that without any seals (interstage or tip seals), the second mode response does
not meet the required separation margin requirements per API standards  (required separation
margin is 12.8% versus actual separation margin of 5.6%). Addition of seals (tip seals and interstage
seals) along with their force coefficients did not improve the separation margins. Finally, inclusion of
swirl brakes to these seals did not improve the separation margins either. A stability analysis for the case
with swirl brakes showed good stability margin. Overall, this rotordynamic configuration with rigid
bearing support (with seals and swirl brakes) showed good stability margin, but did not have the API-
required separation margins for the second mode forced response.
Figure 7 Rotordynamic model for the 450 MWe turbine
In the second configuration, sensitivity studies were performed to study the effect of the coupling
weight. In the original configuration discussed above, the generator-side coupling (which transmits 450
MW power) weighed about 6600 lb (half-weight). An alternate coupling with the same torque/power
rating but with a 1600 lb half weight was designed and modeled in the rotordynamic study. The reduced
weight of the generator-side coupling had a significant impact on the turbine rotordynamics.
Specifically, a modified turbine configuration that included a reduced-weight coupling was analyzed
without modeling the effects of seals (tip seals or interstage seals). For the first three modes, the forced
response of the rotor showed adequate separation margin as required by the API standard .
Consequently, a rotordynamic configuration with rigid bearings but a reduced-weight coupling
(approximately ¼ half-weight) can make the turbine rotordynamics acceptable.
As an alternate to the second configuration described above, a third rotor configuration was analyzed
with soft bearing supports and squeeze film damper. It is difficult to estimate the exact foundation
stiffness for the bearings because a turbine casing has not yet been designed for the 450 MWe turbine
concept. Using experience-based correlations, the combined bearing stiffness (bearing fluid film
stiffness in series with the foundation stiffness) was estimated to be 1e6 lb/inch, which is about 3 to 4
times lower than just the bearing film stiffness. In combination (parallel) with this reduced bearing
stiffness, squeeze film dampers were added with a nominal damping of 15000 lb-s/inch. The undamped
critical speed map for this configuration shows that the first three modes of the turbine rotor are at 800
rpm, 1200 rpm and 2400 rpm compared to the operating speed of 3600 rpm. The fourth mode is higher
and sufficiently separated from the operating speed. The forced response of the rotor shows adequate
separation margin for the first three modes (to meet the API requirements ) and seals with swirl
brakes provide good stability margin. Overall, this configuration with soft-mounted bearings and
squeeze film dampers is another alternative configuration to ensure that the turbine rotor has
acceptable rotordynamic behavior.
Overall, this section described stress analysis for the turbine blades, blade-attachment method, stress
analysis for the turbine rotor and a rotordynamic analysis for the turbine rotor. Based on these
preliminary analyses, the turbine rotor has an acceptable mechanical design.
5. TECHNOLOGY GAPS FOR UTILITY-SCALE sCO2 TURBINES
The 450 MWe turbine rotor concept described in this paper is a single-shaft, single-casing layout that
operates at 3600 rpm and is based on a reheat, recompression cycle. The thermodynamic efficiency of
this cycle is 51.9%. While this efficiency is higher than state-of-the-art ultrasupercritical steam turbines,
there are challenges in realizing this performance. These challenges include high-temperature furnace
design, optimization of heat exchangers, turbine end sealing technology and thermal management with
supercritical CO2. These challenges are briefly described below.
As shown in Table 1, this work assumes that it is possible to add heat to the power cycle in a furnace
with CO2 feed temperatures of about 500oC or greater and exit temperatures of about 700oC with 250
bar pressure. Conceptual designs of primary heater that demonstrate this capability are needed to
confirm this assumption. Furthermore, high-temperature flue gas heat recovery systems, such as
regenerative air preheaters (that operate with 550oC flue gas) are beyond the state-of-the-art
technology for coal power plants. It is desirable to address these furnace design challenges to ensure
that utility-scale sCO2 power generation is competitive with steam turbine technology.
The analysis in this paper found that the efficiency gain with reheat is sensitive to the component
pressure drops assumed in the cycle. Specifically, the cycle efficiency is sensitive to: (a) the pressure
losses in the HPT diffuser, (b) the pressure losses in the reheater, and (c) the pressure losses in the LPT
inlet plenum. For example, an additional 1% DP/P pressure loss in the reheater reduces the cycle
efficiency by about 0.3 points. Concept designs for reheater systems with low pressure drops are
desirable to maximize the cycle efficiency of utility-scale sCO2 power cycles that utilize reheat.
Finally, the high cycle efficiency reported in this paper is enabled by dry gas shaft end seals that leak less
than 0.02% of the turbine mass flow through the end seals of the turbine. The existing sealing
technology for large-diameters (24-inch) and high-differential pressures (> 75 bar) is labyrinth seals.
With labyrinth seals, the leakage past two end seals (one on either end of the turbine) was estimated to
about 0.45% of the overall turbine mass flow. Thus, the leakage loss with existing sealing technology is
more than an order of magnitude higher than the desirable low leakage, which can be achieved using
dry gas seals. This large leakage using existing labyrinth seals can reduce the cycle efficiency by 0.6 to
0.8% points, which negates much of the potential advantage relative to the incumbent steam cycle.
Thus, it is desirable to develop large-diameter, high-pressure and low-leakage dry gas seals for ensuring
high efficiencies and competitiveness of utility-scale sCO2 power cycles over steam turbine technology.
6. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
In this paper, two thermodynamic cycles were presented along with turbine layouts for the 50 MWe and
the 450 MWe scales. The 50 MWe thermodynamic cycle leveraged previous SwRI/GE Sunshot CSP cycle
with important modifications including CO2 condensation to improve efficiency. The 50 MWe cycle
resulted in a cycle efficiency of 49.6%. For the 450 MWe scale, the thermodynamic cycle was further
modified to include reheating, which improved the cycle efficiency by 1.1% over the non-reheat case.
The 50 MWe turbine is a scaled-up version of the 10 MWe SwRI/GE Sunshot turbine and demonstrates
that the 10 MWe architecture is scalable to intermediate power ratings. The 450 MWe turbine is an
assembled rotor with a dual-flow layout with both the HPT and the LPT housed in single casing and
supported on a single bearing span. In this work, the turbine layouts were designed using aerodynamic
flow-path considerations and demonstrated to be mechanically feasible for the choice of H282 material.
Overall, the conceptual designs hold promise subject to the technology gaps discussed in this paper.
Further optimization of these concepts from an economic standpoint could result in modified
This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy under Award Number DE-
FE0024007. The authors want to thank Dr. Seth Lawson and Richard Dennis at U.S. Dept. of Energy –
National Energy Technology Laboratory for his support and guidance during this program.
This paper was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States
Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their
employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for
the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed,
or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific
commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does
not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States
Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not
necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.
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Dr. Rahul Bidkar is a Mechanical Engineer at GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna,
NY. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University. At GE,
Rahul has led development of several film-riding turbomachinery seals with
applications to aircraft engines, gas turbines, steam turbines and supercritical CO2
turbines along with coatings development work for fluid drag reduction. He has
authored over 10 technical papers, 14 patent applications with 4 granted patents.
Andrew Mann is an Energy System Engineer at General Electric Global Research. His
research in on the thermodynamic and economic modeling of power generation
systems, with recent focus on supercritical CO2 cycles. He received his master’s
degree from Stony Brook University in 2013.
Mr. Sevincer is currently a Mechanical Engineer in the Mechanical Systems
Organization at GE Global Research Center. His research interests are in the areas
of design and development of Turbomachinery components, sealing systems for
aircraft engines, gas & steam turbines. At GE Global Research, Mr. Sevincer has
been involved in the development of analytical tools used for combustor design
characterization, mechanical design & optimization of gas turbine components,
design, development and testing of Multiphase pumps and pumping systems in
addition to developing new sCO2 turbine concepts for Sunshot program.
Stefan Cich is a Research Engineer in the Mechanical Engineering Division at
Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, TX. He received his B.S. in Aerospace
Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. His main focus while at SwRI has
been on the design, analysis, and manufacturing of turbomachinery casings and rotor
layouts. Recent work has been in the design of a 10MW supercritical CO2 turbine
under the DOE Sunshot program.
Meera Day is an Engineer in the Rotating Machinery Dynamics Section at Southwest
Research Institute in San Antonio, TX. While at SwRI, her research has included
instrumentation, performance testing, control systems, and rotordynamics analysis
intended for applications such as turboexpanders, centrifugal compressors, and utility
scale cycles. She has Bachelor of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering and
Mathematics from Southern Methodist University.
Dr. Azam Thatte is a Lead Research Engineer at GE Global Research Center in
Niskayuna, NY. He received Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech
in 2010. His research interests include multi-scale multi-physics modeling, fluid-
structure interaction, aircraft engine design, turbomachinery flows,
hydrodynamic film riding sealing and gas bearing technology. Currently Dr.
Thatte is the Principal Investigator of a large U.S. DOE research program on
developing coupled-physics performance and life prediction models and
material models for supercritical CO2 turbomachines. He has developed novel
experimental methods to characterize thermodynamics of phase transition in CO2 and to study effect of
chemical kinetics of CO2 on 3D fracture mechanics in superalloys. He has authored more than 30 journal
& peer reviewed conference publications including one in Nature. He has also filed 12 patent
Dr. Peter is a Principal Engineer at GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, NY. He
received his Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Washington.
While at GE, he has worked on gas turbines, fuel cells, boiling water nuclear reactors,
concentrating solar power, and supercritical CO2 turbomachinery. He has also been
a product line leader for GE's Integrated Solar Combined Cycle system.
Dr. Douglas Hofer is a Senior Principal Engineer at the GE Global Research Center in
Niskayuna NY. His research interests are in the areas of turbomachinery aero-thermal
fluid dynamics, advanced expander and compressor technologies, two-phase flows,
non-ideal gasses, and transonic and supersonic flows. He has deep experience in the
steam turbine industry both in turbomachinery design and cycle analysis and
Dr. Jeffrey Moore is an Institute Engineer in the Machinery Section at Southwest Research
Institute in San Antonio, TX. He holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering
from Texas A&M University. His professional experience over the last 25 years includes
engineering and management responsibilities related to centrifugal compressors and gas
turbines at Solar Turbines Inc. in San Diego, CA, Dresser-Rand in Olean, NY, and Southwest
Research Institute in San Antonio, TX. His interests include advanced power cycles and
compression methods, rotordynamics, seals and bearings, computational fluid dynamics, finite element
analysis, machine design, controls and aerodynamics. He has authored over 30 technical papers related
to turbomachinery and has two patents issued and two pending. Dr. Moore is the Vanguard Chair of the
Structures and Dynamics Committee and has held the position of Oil and Gas Committee Chair for IGTI
Turbo Expo. He is also the Associate Editor for the Journal of Tribology and a member of the IGTI SCO2
Committee, Turbomachinery Symposium Advisory Committee, the IFToMM International Rotordynamics
Conference Committee, and the API 616 and 684 Task Forces.