Gas Turbines

 Experimental hybrid power plant
zum Bild Experimental hybrid power plant

According to the International Energy Agency, the energy requirements are set to increase globally by more than a third by the year 2035, with the electricity needs rising almost twice as fast. Furthermore, around a third of newly-created generation capacity will be needed to replace old plants going offline. Thanks to changes in energy policy in Germany, it is planned that renewable energy sources will produce over 60% of the total electricity generated in the country by 2030. Due to high fluctuation in electricity generation, particularly in wind and photovoltaic plants, almost all secured power required will still have to be produced by conventional power plants (percentage 2030 > 80%). Additionally, 25% of all electricity should be produced through cogeneration by the year 2020. In attempting to meet these requirements, it is vital that a consequential increase in the efficiency of energy conversion and the use of alternative fuels is coupled with a reduction in pollution and CO2 emissions. On the other hand, conventional power stations must significantly increase their flexibility concerning a reduction of minimum part load and an increase in load change rates in order to guarantee an efficient integration of renewable energy sources. The successful realization of such ambitious targets depends to a great extent upon highly efficient, highly flexible and low-pollution decentralized conversion technology contributing to sustainable and grid-compatible electricity generation.

 Atmospheric Micro Gas Turbine Combustion Test Bench
zum Bild Atmospheric Micro Gas Turbine Combustion Test Bench

For these reasons, the Gas Turbines Department focuses its research activities on the investigation, development and implementation of gas turbine-based power plants for a sustainable, decentralized electricity and heat supply. Optimizing existing technologies is as much a focus as the development of innovative power plant concepts.

Micro gas turbines have considerable advantages compared to piston engines. Amongst these advantages are a much higher fuel flexibility, a simpler construction, increased maintenance intervals and low acoustic and pollutant emissions which do not require aftertreatment. Due to the high temperature of the emissions they produce, micro turbines also have a higher potential for waste heat recovery which may be used for process heating and cooling and process steam. Disadvantages include the required fuel compressor and a reduced electrical efficiency factor.

The department’s focal points encompass the following topic areas:

  • Development, design and optimization of low-pollutant, highly efficient and fuel-flexible power plant concepts based on micro gas turbines for decentralized energy production
    • Cogeneration based on pressurized micro gas turbines
      • Turbec T100
      • MTT EnerTwin
    • Innovative micro gas turbine-based cogeneration power plants
    • Hybrid power plant (connecting a pressurized solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) with a micro gas turbine)
    • Subatmospherically-operated micro gas turbines (“Inverted Brayton Cycle”)
    • Micro gas turbine-based range extender for use in the transport industry
  • Investigation, development, characterization and optimization of low-pollution and fuel-flexible combustor systems of micro gas turbines for fuels in gas and liquid form. These characteristics include an operating range of 1–4 bar.
    • Conventional fuels: e.g. natural gas, diesel
    • Alternative fuels: e.g. lean gas (wood gas), syngas, SOFC off-gas, biogas
    • Utilization of industrial exhaust (conversion of organic solvents (VOCs))
    • Testing of innovative ceramic combustion chamber materials
    • Combustor systems for high air entry temperatures of up to 1173 K
  • Development and validation of design tools for the numerical design of power plant concepts for decentralized energy supply.

The department has a number of different laboratories at its disposal in order to investigate combustion chamber systems and entire plants (micro gas turbine-based power plants)):
ATM Lab, Research Power Plant, Micro Gas Turbine Test Bench.


Dr.-Ing. Andreas Huber
German Aerospace Center

Institute of Combustion Technology

Tel: +49 711 6862-734

Fax: +49 711 6862-578

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Research platform for decentralized energy sources (