The nanotech enhanced Prometheus electric gas turbine is based on an idea for an solar gas turbine that is being developed at the San Diego State University, and is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Sun Shot program. Click here and here for more information about the program.

Picture 1 - Gas turbine powered by small solar receiver and oxidizing carbon nano-particles Picture 1a - Small solar receiver oxidizing carbon nano-particles heating the gas turbine's air stream
Picture 1 - Flowchart gas turbine powered by small solar receiver Picture 2 - Small solar receiver oxidizing carbon nano-particles heating the gas turbine's air stream
Source picture 1a: energy.gov

The San Diego State University's solar gas turbine works as shown in pictures 1 and 2. The gas turbine takes in air, compresses it. Next carbon nanoparticles are injected into the compressed air leaving the compressor.

This mixture of compressed air and carbon nanoparticles enters the solar receiver where the air and carbon nanoparticles are heated by the solar radiation. The sun's heat will oxidize the carbon nanoparticles, and the heat of this process is transferred to the air stream.

By the time the air stream reaches the turbine inlet, the carbon nanoparticles will have completely oxidized and the turbines will be powered by an hot and clean air stream.

How The NanoTech Enhanced Prometheus Electric Gas Turbine Works

The nanotech enhanced Prometheus electric gas turbine (picture 3) works similar as the solar gas turbine in picture 1, except the solar receiver is replaced by an electrically heated combustor, which is basically an adapted version of the electric furnace in picture 6.

Picture 3 - Flowchart electric gas turbine using oxidizing carbon nanoparticles to heat air in combustors
Picture 3 - Flowchart electric gas turbine using oxidizing carbon nano-particles to heat air in combustors
Click here for gas turbines and piston engines running solely on nanoparticles.

Replacing Conventional Combustors By Electric Combustors

If the electric gas turbine has to generate the same amount of electricity as the Siemens SGT-400 gas turbine, which has an electric output of ± 13 MW (picture 6), it would have to heat the same amount of air (± 40 kg/s), to the same temperature (± 1150°C) as the SGT-400 gas turbine.

The inner dimensions of the Thermconcept HTK 500/16 electric furnace are: 500 mm width × 1200 mm depth × 800 mm height = 480 liters (a cubic meter cut in half). The maximum temperature inside the furnace is 1600°C and its power requirement is 64 kW. See picture 7.

Please compare the engineer in picture 4 with one of the combustors (yellow arrows) and picture 7. It is fair to say the electric furnace is about the same size as an combustor of the SGT-400 gas turbine. One electric furnace could process the same volume of air as one SGT-400 gas turbine combustor.

The maximum temperature inside the HTK 500/16 electric furnace is 1600°C, so its continuous operating temperature will be ± 1400°C. This is the same or even higher than the temperatures inside concentrated solar power plants and thus high enough to oxidize the carbon nanoparticles. Also, the temperature is uniform throughout the furnace and does not fluctuate.

Picture 4 - Engineer working on SGT-400 gas turbine Picture 4a
Picture is showing an Siemens engineer working on SGT-400 gas turbine
Picture 4 is an edited copy of an picture taken from:
Brochure Gas Turbine SGT-400 for Power Generation.pdf
Technical details HTK50016 electric furnace

Picture 4b
Still from video of asolar simulator demonstration by SDSU To heat and oxidize the carbon nanoparticles, it might also be possible to use these 15000 Watt (15 kW) special light bulbs that were used in a solar simulator demonstration by San Diego State University.


Potential Energy Savings

The SGT-400 gas turbine has 6 combustors, so 6 electric combustors/furnaces are needed to process the same amount of air in the Prometheus electric gas turbine. Each electric combustor/furnace requires 64 kW. Combined power requirement: 384 kW.

It is difficult to estimate the power requirements of the pumps (one for each electric combustor) needed to inject the carbon nanoparticles into the electric gas turbine's air stream. Allocating 64 kW to each of the six pumps should be sufficient. Combined power requirement: 384 kW.

Total combined power requirement of electric combustors and pumps: 768 kW. If this allows the electric gas turbine to heat the same volume air stream to the same temperature as the SGT-400 gas turbine, consequently it should be able to generate the same amount electricity: 12,9 MW (12900 kW). This would give the electric gas turbine a net output of 12132 kw (12,1 MW)! See picture 5.

Picture 5 - Possible Energy Output Electric Gas Turbine

Naturally this defies the law of conservation of energy, but the margins seem to be there. At 64 kW, each electric combustor is capable of heating an volume of 480 liters (almost half a cubic meter) to at least 1400ºC and heat the ± 40 kg/s air / carbon nanoparticles mixture over an distance of 1200 mm (120 cm).

Even if the electric combustors would need 10 × more energy (640 kW per electric combustor), the net output would still be ± 9 MW. This could for instance easily raise the temperature inside the combustors to 1800ºC or higher, and / or heat the air / carbon nano-particle mixture over a longer distance than the present 1200 mm (120 cm).

The production of nano-particles can be done using solar and wind power and the energy density of for instance silicon nano-particles  is 75.9 MJ/kg, energy density of diesel is 37.3 MJ/kg. This would make silicon nano-particles suitable to use as energy storage. Please also read this section.

Future Use Of LENR Or Cold Fusion Nuclear Reactors In Gas Turbines?

Should the experiments in the Sun Shot program (here and here) prove to be successful and LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reaction) reactors, like for instance the E-Cat or Hot-Cat, or even cold fusion nuclear reactors, become a reality, it should be possible to fit e.g. an E-Cat inside the gas turbine's combustor. See pictures 5a and 5b.

Just as envisioned in the Sun Shot program solar gas turbine , carbon nanoparticles are injected in the airflow and the heat of e.g. an E-Cat will cause the carbon nanoparticles to oxidize very fast, and the heat of this process will heat the compressed air driving the generator. 

Picture 5a - Gas Turbine Powered by LENR reactor  Picture 5b - The E-Cat / Hot-Cat Being Tested
Flowchart gas turbine or jet engine powered by future LENR or cold fusion reactor like the E-cat or HotCat Cold fusion reactor E-Cat or HotCat in teststand

LENR seems to become more and more interesting to main stream science. Even NASA is interested, as their presentation on LENR aircraft proves.

Gas Turbines and Pulse Jet Engines Capable Of Running Solely On Nanoparticles!?

Research showed it takes only 1 MJ of energy to ignite nanoparticles and cause an explosion (source: Explosibility of nanoparticles). Some micron powders ignited at 610 ºC but the nano powder already ignited at 100 ºC.

Picture 2 - Gas Turbine Using Nanoparticles As Fuel
Diagram gas turbine fueled by nanoparticlesThis means nanoparticles can be injected in the air flow of a gas turbine where they will ignite, oxidize and heat the air flow, because the air coming from an gas turbine's compressor has a temperature of 400 ºC or higher. No need for a heat source or even a ignition. See picture 2.

Using nano-particles as fuel might make it possible to design a smaller combustor because there is no need to keep a flame burning. A smaller combustor might reduce pressure drop and increase thermal efficiency.

Note: The chance of starting an explosion is relatively small since a gas turbine is basically an "open" system.

Even in case the nano-particles injected in the air flow of the gas turbine always explode (constant volume combustion), they still might make an excellent energy source. For instance they can be used to power a pulse jet engine or pulse detonation engine to drive a generator. See pictures 2a & 2b.

This might be just as efficient than using the nano-particles in a gas turbine, because a detonation is more powerful than a deflagration.

Picture 2a - Pulse Jet Engine Driving Generator

Fowchart of a pulse jet (or pulse detonation engine), using nanoparticles for fuel, driving a generator
Picture 2b - Animation Pulse Jet Engine

Animation showing how pulse jet engine works
Image source: Pulse jet engine wiki

Picture 2c - Another Pulse Jet Engine Powering Generator Setup

Fowchart of a pulsejet engine driving turbine of generatorAs pictures 2a/b show, pulse jet engines work in pretty straight forward way. Air is sucked in and mixed with fuel (nano-particles). Next the air / nano-particle mixture is ignited by e.g. a sparkplug or electric arc. The explosion pushes the hot air to go out of the nozzle and drives the turbine of the generator. The use of an air compressor might increase efficiency. See picture 2c.

The detonations will cause vibrations, in order to minimize their impact on e.g. compressor and generator axis, the use of a hydrodynamic clutch and gear box, like the ones used in large wind turbines, might be necessary.

Energy Storage, Hydrogen, Fertilizer

Of all the energy media suitable for manufacturing nanoparticles, silicon might be the best choice. It has a high energy density (higher than coal/carbon) and it presence is abundant, approximately 75% of the accessible earth's crust comprises silicon dioxide.

Energy density of some types of energy media
Energy media Energy density Specific energy
Carbon (coal) 74.2 MJ/kg 32.8 MJ/L
Silicon 75.9 MJ/kg 32.6 MJ/L
Diesel fuel 37.3 MJ/kg 46.2 MJ/L
Natural gas 0.0364 MJ/kg 53.6 MJ/L
Source table above: Energy density wiki

Putting nanoparticles in perspective (click picture to enlarge)

< Also the favorable higher surface area to volume ratio of nanoparticles in combination with high energy density, could make silicon or carbon nanoparticles the fuel and energy storage solution we are looking for.

Please also read "Dust explosion mechanism"

Using silicon has other advantages. According to this paper, Silicon as an intermediary between renewable energy and hydrogen (pdf file), using silicon for fuel and energy storage has also the benefit of local production of ammonia (fertilizers) and hydrogen (energy).

Countries that already enjoy solar and wind energy could use this clean energy to produce silicon or carbon nanoparticles and provide other countries with clean energy and the material to locally produce ammonia and hydrogen. This would provide many OPEC states the opportunity to make money in the post oil production era.

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Picture 6 - Specifications Siemens SGT-400 gas turbine
Picture 6 shows the technical specifications of an Siemens SGT-400 gas turbine
Source information: Brochure Gas Turbine SGT-400 for Power Generation.pdf

Picture 7 - specifications of the  made by Thermconcept
Picture 7 shows the technical specifications of th HTK 500 electric furnace made Thermconcept
Source information: Furnaces for Ceramic Glass Solar.pdf

Picture 8 - cubic meter in perspective

Picture 8 shows an woman sitting in cubic meter to demonstrate size