Joseph Meadows, assistant professor in mechanical engineering, is part of a multi-group team receiving federal funding to integrate hydrogen-fueled rotating detonation combustors (RDC) with gas turbines to optimize performance. Total group funding from the Department of Energy (DOE) is $800,000 to be distributed between the partnering institutions.

This is disruptive technology with the potential of significantly improving thermal efficiency, but the technology needs further development before it can be adopted by gas turbine manufacturers.  If successful, the project will advance the technology towards implementation in power generating gas turbine engines. 

The University of Alabama leads the project, partnering with Meadows, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc., Kulite Semiconductor Products, Inc., and the Navy Research Lab. The partnering institutions will develop a robust methodology to integrate a rotating detonation combustor with a gas turbine.

Meadows’ group is responsible for the design and optimization of the RDC using computational fluid dynamics, using experimental data from partner members to validate the approach. By analyzing this data, Meadows and his team will provide the foundation for design and optimization of RDC with traditional gas turbines fueled on hydrogen or hydrogen/natural gas blends, while other partner members will perform experiments to demonstrate the design at gas turbine relative conditions.

The DOE seeks to increase the reliability, efficiency, and performance of hydrogen power to reduce carbon emissions in pursuit of a national goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035. This project is one of several by the DOE Office of Fossil Energy’s University Turbines Systems Research program that will study fundamental scientific challenges and applied engineering issues associated with advancing the performance and efficiency of combustion turbines fueled with pure hydrogen, hydrogen and natural gas mixtures, and other carbon-free hydrogen containing fuels.