Recuperator Technology Increases Gas Turbine Efficiency
Increased mission endurance is a critical requirement for many unmanned air vehicles. Advanced recuperators can reduce fuel consumption and significantly expand the mission envelopes for gas turbine-powered UAVs. The recuperator recycles heat from the exhaust stream and adds it to the compressed air entering the combustor. Creare has developed an innovative recuperator design that enables highly efficient heat transfer and results in very compact cores with low pressure losses. Prior Creare projects have proved the feasibility of our approach, developed full-size fabrication methods, demonstrated thermomechanical durability, and validated thermal and flow performance. The development of a CNC laser welding process has been key to successfully producing strong, leak-tight welds in the stacked plates of the heat exchanger core. Creare has recently been awarded additional funding from the Naval Air Warfare Center to build a full-size recuperator, integrate it with a common turboshaft engine, and demonstrate that the recuperated engine meets goals for reduced fuel consumption and durability. The project runs through June 2017.