Fall 2015
Dr. Jacqueline O’Connor
Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering
Center for Combustion, Power and Propulsion
Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering
College of Engineering
The Pennsylvania State University
Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Gas turbine engines are a highly efficient source of power for a variety of applications, including electricity generation, aircraft propulsion, and oil well extraction. The number of gas turbines introduced into service is growing dramatically each year.  For example, according to the US Energy Information Administration, 50% of the new electrical generation capacity in 2013 came from natural-gas fired gas turbines. The US Marine F-35B Joint Strike Fighter was recently declared operational in July 2015, bringing online a fleet of up to 420 high-performance jets in the coming years. And on the commercial side, CFM International, makers of the world’s best-selling aircraft engine, saw a 56% increase in orders from 2013 to 2014. Gas turbine engines are a preferred power and propulsion solution because they are not only efficient, but can also meet strict emissions regulations. However, significant technical challenges arise during low-emissions, high-efficiency operation. In particular, engine “operability,” being able to operate the engine while meeting all requirements and specifications, becomes a challenge over the wide operating range of these machines. Many challenges to gas turbine operability arise in the “hot section,” the combined combustor and high-pressure turbine sections where gas temperatures regularly exceed that of the melting point of the metal hardware. In this talk, we review some key challenges in hot-section operability, including issues of fuel flexibility, flame stabilization, combustion instability, emissions, and component durability. We discuss technical challenges as well as some of the research occurring at Penn State and elsewhere that is being done to address operability issues.

Speaker Bio:  Dr. O’Connor is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State and a member of the Center for Combustion, Power, and Propulsion. Previously, she was a post-doctoral researcher at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California in the Engine Combustion Department. She received a BS from MIT in Aeronautics in 2006, and a MS and Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2009 and 2012. She is a member of the ASME, AIAA, SAE, and Combustion Institute, and has received recognition for her technical contribution from both ASME and SAE.