In the realm of aviation, gas turbine engines and components are what provide many aircraft with the capability of flight. Procuring and maintaining gas turbines can be an expensive endeavor, encompassing fuel costs, inspections, maintenance, and other normal expenditures that come about over the course of operation. With a proper air filtration system, the cost of gas turbine operations can be reduced, making them a very beneficial investment for any owner or airline utilizing a gas turbine aircraft. In this article, we will discuss gas turbine air filtration systems and how they may benefit gas turbine components and costs.
Gas turbines greatly rely on air filtration systems and air inlet components to optimally perform. The many sections of the air filtration system prevent contamination of gas turbine components and may increase the performance of the engine. When air first enters the air inlet, weather hoods and drift eliminators disallows rain, snow, and sunlight to enter the system with moisture separators and low velocities of drawn air. Air filtration then removes dirt and contaminants, as well as separates combustion air and ventilation air from each other.
The inlet cooling & heating system of the aircraft may be used to achieve certain temperatures of air for the gas turbine engine. On hotter days, air may be cooled within the system with the use of evaporative coolers or inlet air chiller coils. Heating may also be provided for colder conditions, acting as an anti-icing system. Water is also used to reduce air temperature by dripping water throughout channels that air travels though, causing heat to transfer between the air and water.
When flying in areas or conditions that cause great amounts of dust and dirt to enter the gas turbine system, having pulse or static air filters can be extremely beneficial. A pulse air filter can be considered self-cleaning, using negative pressure to transfer dust and dirt into another air system to be captured, filtered out, and then expelled. Pulse systems also may be used for humid or cold conditions, activating at certain levels of humidity or preventing cold moisture from plugging filters within the system. As pulse filters can be operated outside of flying, the system can be used to clean the filters before a flight operation.
As with many components, air filtration systems may be classified to meet various standards, and these differ based on the operating conditions, country, and other such considerations. Within the United States, air filtration systems and filters are rated upon the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards. Meanwhile, European Standards EN 779: 2012 and EN 1822: 2009 may be referred to for European operations. The higher rating an air filter has, the more particles will be filtered out. Measurement for filter efficiency is based on a filter’s Most Penetrating Particle Size (MPPS).
With a good air filtration system for your gas turbine engine and components, operational costs may be decreased while increasing performance. With less contaminants entering a system, the chance of a failure, AOG situation, or other issue decreases, allowing for less money spent on inspections and maintenance. Alongside less contaminates, the inlet cooling & heating system can also provide temperature control of entering air, improving the performance of the gas turbine.
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