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Proceedings of ASME Turbo Expo 2003

Power for Land, Sea, and Air
June 16–19, 2003, Atlanta, Georgia, USA



James Kesseli Thomas Wolf

Ingersoll-Rand Energy Systems Ingersoll-Rand Energy Systems
Portsmouth, N.H. Portsmouth, N.H.

James Nash Steven Freedman

Ingersoll-Rand Energy Systems Consultant
Portsmouth, N.H. Deerfield, Ill.


Recuperators increase system efficiencies in gas turbine INGERSOLL-RAND RECUPERATOR
engines by recovering exhaust heat to the compressor discharge The patented recuperator manufactured by Ingersoll-Rand
stream. In this study, the performance and economics of Energy Systems (U.S. patent 5,983,992) represents a significant
recuperation are evaluated and presented for a practical range advancement in recuperator technology. It offers superior life
of effectiveness with typical pressure-loss-fractions. The strong and a design that can be manufactured at reasonable cost. The
correlation between recuperator cost and engine specific-power Ingersoll-Rand recuperator is a counterflow plate-fin heat
is shown, using a recuperator designed and manufactured at a exchanger with crossflow headers. This is a compact
highly automated facility by Ingersoll-Rand. This arrangement, offering a large gas-entry frontal area and a large
commercially available recuperator is also described, with amount of heat exchanger area per unit volume.
specific emphasis on features contributing to its exceptional
durability. The fundamental building block of the Ingersoll-Rand
INTRODUCTION recuperator is a unit cell (Fig. 1), the repeating element of a
In 1994, Ingersoll-Rand began development of a new recuperator core. The unit cell includes all the features for flow
recuperator in response to the needs of the emerging distribution, heat transfer and pressure containment.
microturbine and advanced gas turbine industries. These gas Gas fin segment
turbine engines operate at high gas-side temperatures (600-
700°C) and need higher durability than those of the previous Stamped
generation. Of equal importance has been recuperator cost, plate
which has been a significant barrier to their wide scale
application in cycles optimized for recuperation. Air fin segment

This paper describes some of the unique design features

contributing to the exceptional durability of the Ingersoll-Rand Air distribution
recuperator. Secondarily, this paper provides a quantitative cost headers
basis for the recuperator. This information can be used by
prospective developers of recuperated gas turbines to optimize
various cycle and engine design parameters on a life-cycle-cost
basis. Gas fin segment Stamped
parting plate
Figure 1. Recuperator Unit Cell (Exploded)

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The cell is a brazed assembly composed of symmetrical DESIGN FOR MANUFACTURING
gas fin segments on the outside of two parting plates. Between Unit-cell construction gives the core a scalable geometry,
the parting plates are an air-fin matrix and two air distribution facilitating adaptation to a wide range of engine sizes. The
headers. The perimeter of the unit cell parting plates, forming simple construction technique is very efficient in its use of
the pressure boundary between the air and exhaust gas streams, materials and is well suited to automated assembly methods.
is totally welded and brazed. Ingersoll-Rand Energy Systems currently produces five
different recuperator products optimized for specific engines.
The air distribution headers between the parting plates Although each product requires unique assembly and tooling
channel airflow through the matrix fin. When brazed, the air- combinations, all are manufactured on a common production
matrix fin and the header fins carry the pressure load created by line and share the sizable investment in capital equipment.
the compressor discharge pressure. The brazing also forms an
ideal joint between the fin and plate, assuring excellent thermal The manufacturing process uses high-volume progressive
performance. stamping dies, capable of producing several hundred finished
parts per hour from rolled sheet stock. A continuous-flow
Construction of a modular recuperator core (Fig. 2) is robotic braze application system, produces assembly-ready
accomplished by stacking and joining individual cells at the parts with exceptionally high precision and quality. Simple self-
stamped circular flanges. These flanges are designed to fixturing features in the seven unit cell elements facilitate
facilitate welding and accommodate substantial thermal strain. brazing of the cell in a high-volume process. Due to the
When stacked to the full core height, the welded circular lightweight cell structure, the brazed materials require
flanges form the distribution manifolds for the air entering and relatively short exposures at the braze melt temperature,
exiting the core. These manifolds form a flexible welded preventing the grain growth and other undesirable material
bellows, extending the entire length of the recuperator core. transformations that plagued earlier furnace-brazed multi-layer
core heat exchangers. The high level of automation and
The assembled Ingersoll-Rand recuperator is shown refinement of the manufacturing process yields very low
schematically in Fig. 3. It can be characterized as a hybrid attrition rates.
design, exploiting the best aspects of both primary and
extended-surface plate heat exchangers while overcoming their The brazed unit-cell is a complete recuperator, containing
inherent weaknesses. The core is fabricated entirely from light- enhanced air and gas-side heat transfer surfaces. Each cell is
gauge sheet, eliminating the stiffness discontinuities present in pressure tested to its proof-test limit to assure mechanical
recuperators employing edge bars. Moreover the core has an integrity. For most applications, a nominal 300-percent proof
accessible and entirely welded pressure boundary. The result is pressure test of may be imposed. The assembled recuperator
a compact core with independent air-fin and gas-fin core may contain from 1 to 200 cells, depending on customer
optimization. Its critical advantage is tolerance of the severe specifications. The unit-cells are joined at the circular manifold
thermal gradients that often occur during transient operation. hoops employing a highly automated robotic orbital welder. In
The design also eliminates the need for the complex preload situ and final core welding tests are subsequently performed to
mechanism ordinarily required for primary-surface verify leak-tight requirements and guarantee the integrity of the
recuperators. finished cores. These basic recuperator manufacturing
advantages contribute to low cost, even at modest sales
Unit-cell construction makes the recuperator exceptionally volumes.
durable compared with conventional configurations,
historically plagued by fatigue and creep problems. Without For large packages, multiple cores can be joined with V-
rigid connection between individual cells, the Ingersoll-Rand band clamps. Due to the inherent flexibility of the welded cores
core has minimal internal mechanical restraint and avoids external bellows expansion joints are not required in
thermal strain associated with more rigid designs. Fatigue-life core-to-core attachments.
is extended well beyond that of the conventional monolithic
Hot air out
Cold air in
Unit cell
flange Exhaust gas out

Manifolds created
by welded circular flanges Exhaust gas in
Figure 2. Core Fabrication Figure 3. Recuperator Flow Paths

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Recuperators consisting of unit-cell building blocks can be The recuperator core represents the complete heat
fabricated to meet a wide range of gas turbine cycle exchanger, containing integral air-side manifolds, counterflow
specifications. Typical recuperator performance is specified as heat exchange surface, and all necessary internal headers. The
air-side pressure drop, gas-side pressure drop, and thermal core alone constitutes the majority of the recuperator system
effectiveness. The task of the recuperator designer is typically costs, but in all applications additional packaging, ducting, and
to meet these specifications, at minimum cost, for the following mounting accessories are required for a practical functional
inputs: system. Since these accessories are dependent upon the engine
size and configuration, it was not possible in this study to add
their contribution to the cost model. To avoid underestimating
• Mass flow rate into recuperator these relevant costs, budgetary estimates for the balance of the
• Compressor discharge temperature recuperator system typically range from 25 to 50 percent of the
• Compressor discharge pressure core price. In military applications, which have shock load and
other non-commercial requirements, the cost of the balance of
the recuperator package may range from 50 to 100 percent of
• Mass flow rate into recuperator the core price.
• Turbine exit temperature
• Turbine exit pressure (typically equal to the As indicated by the recuperator sizing inputs listed in the
stack loss plus the recuperator pressure loss) previous section, the engine designer’s choice of cycle
parameters and performance specifications dictates the size of
To optimize the Ingersoll-Rand unit-cell recuperator, the the recuperator. The task of the recuperator designer is to
designer manipulates the following design parameters. manipulate the geometry parameters into the lowest cost
package while meeting the engine designer’s performance
• Air side counter-flow fin density specifications.
• Air-side fin geometry
• Air-side fin thickness * The following parametric studies provide a quantitative

indication of the size and cost of the compliant recuperator.
Air-side fin height
Due to the sizable number of free parameters, the following
• Gas-side fin density analysis attempts to categorize engines according to three
• Gas-side fin geometry practical groupings (Table 1):
• Gas side fin thickness Microturbines Low pressure ratio, uncooled turbine
• Gas side fin height * sections, with low-cost hot sections limited to operation
• Cell count from 800 - 1000° C. Component efficiencies are typical
• Plate thickness * of the under-250 kWe equipment class.
• Material selection Small and mid-sized gas turbines Moderate pressure
* dictated by frame model ratios, no bleed air fraction, and higher component
efficiencies. For this class of engine, typically in the 1 to
5 MW power level, turbine inlet temperatures of 900-
Currently, Ingersoll-Rand manufactures unit cells with 1100°C are evaluated.
three counterflow parting plate configurations (“footprints”),
and two parting plate draw-depths (fin heights). Each footprint Large industrial gas turbines Operating with cooled
requires a special stamping die, generally an expensive tool. turbine sections, and high component efficiencies.
The three dies in operation at Ingersoll-Rand accommodate
plate thickness from 0.008 to 0.016 inches (0.2 to 0.4 mm). Table 1. Engine Categories
Typical fin gauges range form 0.003 to 0.008 inches (0.07 to
0.2 mm). Small and Mid-
Micro- Size Gas Large Industrial Gas
turbines Turbines (SGT) Turbines
To predict the thermal effectiveness and gas and air-side Turbine inlet
pressure losses, Ingersoll-Rand uses computational models temp range (°C) 800-1000 900-1100 1100-1300
validated by instrumented core rig tests. In commercial and 3 at 1100°C
U.S. Navy recuperator designs, these models have been used to Turbine cooling
bleed (percent) 0 0 5 at 1200°C
predict pressure drops with an accuracy of ±0.5 percent. With 7 at 1300°C
uniform flow distributions, the thermal effectiveness Compressor
predictions match the measurements of controlled experiments polytropic
efficiency 82 84.5 87
with an accuracy of ±0.3 percent. Under conditions with highly (percent)
skewed gas-side flow distribution, variances of 1 percentage 85.5 (gas
point have been observed. Turbine
polytropic generator) 88 (gas generator)
efficiency 84 (power 86 (power turbine)
(percent) turbine)

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In the following analysis, recuperators have been sized for • Austenitic stainless steel (typical AISI 347) purchased
an array of Brayton cycle statepoints. Recuperator cost has at 3.18 $/lbm.
been normalized for engine shaft output power. To limit the • High nickel superalloy (typical alloy-625) purchased
extensive number of variables in the study, all recuperators are at $11.03 /lbm.
sized using the Ingersoll-Rand’s commercially available Frame
• Forming and processing rates for alloy-625 are slower
4 parting plate configuration (“footprint”) and only the air- and
gas-side fin densities and cell count are varied. than those of alloy-347.
• Recuperator plate geometry of IR Frame 4 model, the
Figures 4 and 5 display cycle efficiency for lines of more compact Frame 5 and Frame 3 geometries will
constant turbine inlet temperature, assuming the engine result in higher costs.
configurations defined in Table 1. The recuperator • Pressure test included in build cost.
configurations in Figure 4 have been sized for an effectiveness
of 90 % with a combined pressure drop percentage (∆P/P air + Recuperator cost can also be shown to correlate with
∆P/P gas) of 4 %. This pressure loss has been apportioned engine specific power, defined as shaft power/compressor mass
between the two sides of the recuperator in the manner that flow rate. Figures 6 and 7 illustrate this correlation, with
yields the least expensive recuperator. The air-side pressure recuperator core cost reduced dramatically for increasing
drop include losses in the bellows-like inlet and outlet specific power. The second distinct effect is the step function
manifolds formed by the assembled recuperator cells. The gas- change in the pricing caused by the switch from the austenitic
side pressure losses includes friction losses within the core plus alloy to the superalloy, defined to occur at the turbine exit
entrance and exit effects, based on a uniform velocity profile. temperature of 700°C. (The heavy dotted lines in Figs. 6 and 7
In a typical recuperator installation, a turbine exit diffuser is shows the demarcation between recuperator alloys.) This is
integrated within the recuperator plenum, though these losses believed to be a representative limit for the IR recuperator,
are not debited to the recuperator. In Figure 5, a recuperator of employing our specialized alloy 347 metallurgy. At sustained
85% thermal effectiveness with 6% total pressure drop has been conditions near this limit, more detailed evaluation is
sized for the three engine groups defined in Table 1. recommended as oxidation rates are know to be accelerated.
The IN625 recuperator cost is shown the be higher due to three
The annotated values on each TIT curve in Figures 4 and 5 effects; 1) the high price of the alloy, 2) slower processing
represent the specific cost of the recuperator core. The specific times, and 3) its lower thermal conductivity.
core cost is defined as the normalized recuperator core cost
divided by output shaft power in US$/kW. The recuperator CONCLUSIONS
cost model assumes an abrupt transition between austenitic The preceding analysis has been presented to serve as a
stainless steel and the high nickel class of superalloys when the preliminary design guide for gas turbine engine designers
turbine exhaust temperature reaches 700° C. This point of contemplating conversion to a recuperated cycle. The results
demarcation is indicated by the symbol [Җ]. Specific power show that a given temperature ratio has a characteristic
figures to the left of this symbol represent the higher material optimum pressure ratio for maximizing efficiency. This
pricing and slower processing rates of alloy-625. optimum pressure ratio naturally occurs at a relatively low
specific power, generally well below that of a practical simple
Cost has been estimated using material and labor rates cycle gas turbine. Furthermore, the economics of the
from 2002 at the Ingersoll-Rand recuperator manufacturing recuperator significantly improve with increasing specific
facility in Mocksville, N.C. The specific cost figures presented power. The competing relationship between cycle efficiency
are solely for the purpose of providing a estimates for cycle and capital cost suggest the need for a detailed life cycle cost
optimization analyses, and should not be construed as analysis and a well conceived business plan. The comparative
indicative of a quotation. Also, the figures are representative of analysis shows that the 90% effective with 4% pressure drop
volume production orders and a mature product configuration. costs about 50% more than the recuperator with 85%
Additionally the following commercial conditions are assumed: effectiveness and 4% pressure drop.
• Prices are FOB Mocksville, NC, excluding shipping
and special packaging. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors wish to recognize the roughly 9 years of
• Price excludes insulation, case, piping, seals, and intensive efforts by both Gary Manter, for persistently working
mounting structure. out the complexities of the manufacturing process, and Alex
• Price excludes core-to-core flanges and special Haplau-Colan for his analytical and innovative contributions to
attachments. the thermal-structural design.

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Figure 4. Gas turbine cycle analysis for the three engine scenarios and recuperator of 90% effectiveness and 4% total
pressure drop. Specific cost values for the recuperator core are annotated on each curve of constant TIT.


Figure 5. Gas turbine cycle analysis for the three engine scenarios and recuperator of 85% effectiveness and 6% total
pressure drop. Specific cost values for the recuperator core are annotated on each curve of constant TIT.

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Figure 6. Gas turbine cycle analysis for the three engine scenarios and recuperator of 90% effectiveness and 4% total
pressure drop. The heavy dotted line shows the boundary between the choice of a alloy-347 and alloy 625.

Figure 7. Gas turbine cycle analysis for the three engine scenarios and recuperator of 85% effectiveness and 6% total pressure
drop. The heavy dotted line shows the boundary between the choice of a alloy-347 and alloy 625.

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