The indisputable king of the fossil fired electric power generation realm is the gas turbine combined cycle (GTCC) power plant with modern F-, G-, H- and J-class machines. At 60+% net thermal efficiency (officially clocked in a commercial installation in 2011), it is ten percentage points ahead of its nearest challenger (an ultra-supercritical pulverized coal power plant). As such, especially under the light of the recent discovery of abundant shale gas reserves, natural gas burning GTCC is all but certain to be a major ingredient in a power generation mix for the foreseeable carbon-averse future.
The seventieth anniversary of the first modern mass-produced jet engine (Junkers Jumo-004 turbojet powering the world’s first jet fighter, Messerschmitt 262) presents an apt occasion to recap the evolution of the technology and gauge its future potential. In order to avoid hyperbole and commercialism, it is imperative to ground the discussion in firm theory (to the extent possible in a short article) and knowledge of history (sometimes the obscure aspects of it).
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