Firefighting, Legal, Tech Zone

Microturbines and the Fire Service

Issue 5 and Volume 167.

BY RONALD R. SPADAFORA Microturbines are a relatively new technology being used for stationary energy generation applications. They are small-scale electricity generators that burn gaseous (natural and bio-gas) and liquid (gasoline, kerosene, and diesel) fuels. Their electrical outputs, in general, range from 25 to 500 kilowatts (kW), while conventional gas turbine sizes range from 500 kW to 250 megawatts. They are commonly the size of a refrigerator. These machines can be used in electricity-only generation or they can capture the heat waste “cogeneration” of their turbine in producing electricity and transform it into usable combined heat and power (CHP). Additionally, “trigeneration” efficient microturbines are now being manufactured, providing combined cooling, heat, and power (CCHP). Microturbines evolved in the 1950s from automotive gas turbines and turbocharger technology into sophisticated and complex equipment. They began initial commercial service in 2000. Onsite power minimizes a building’s total reliance on power plants. In a…

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