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ASME Hosts Virtual Congressional Briefing on Advanced Gas Turbine Research and Development

ASME Hosts Virtual Congressional Briefing on Advanced Gas Turbine Research and Development

On March 23rd, ASME hosted a virtual congressional briefing titled “Advanced Gas Turbines: R&D for Sustainable Aviation and Power Generation.” The briefing discussed the role that advanced technologies will play in reducing the carbon footprint of aviation and power generation in order to meet net zero emission and environmental sustainability goals. The briefing also discussed the importance of research and development (R&D) investment in gas turbines to make sure the U.S. remains competitive in aviation, power generation, and other key industrial sectors. The event’s panelists included:
  • Dr. Nateri Madavan – Deputy Director of Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program, NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate
  • Dr. Zoltan Spakovsky – Director of the Gas Turbine Laboratory at MIT; Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT
  • Dr. Sean Bradshaw – Fellow for Sustainable Propulsion at Pratt & Whitney; Vice Chair of the ASME Gas Turbine Technology Group
  • Guy DeLeonardo – Executive Product Manager at GE Power & Water
  • Karen Thole – Distinguished Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering at Pennsylvania State University
Dr. Nateri Madavan kicked off the event by emphasizing the indispensable role that gas turbines play in powering nearly all global aviation and in delivering 40 percent of U.S. electricity. He briefly summarized that gas turbines offer multiple technical pathways to lower and zero-out carbon emissions, making them vital to the effort to reduce the overall environmental footprint of the aviation and power generation industries. Dr. Zoltan Spakovsky opened the panel presentations with a brief history of gas turbine development and research, as well as a quick overview of the mechanics behind gas turbine power and propulsion. He mentioned the growing global aircraft engines market, which in 2021 was at $67 billion and is forecasted to grow to $91 billion in 2025. The largest share of this market is in North America, and in this, Spakovsky concluded that gas turbines will require advanced innovation and increased R&D efforts to ensure the U.S. stays competitive in the aviation industry.

Dr. Sean Bradshaw, Sustainable Propulsion Fellow at Pratt & Whitney, presented on the industry perspective of R&D challenges for sustainable aviation. He discussed how the aviation industry fuels 143 million jobs worldwide, with a global economic impact of $6.3 trillion, and how advanced gas turbines will continue to play a critical role in sustainable aviation as most aviation traffic of the future will rely on advanced gas turbines operating with sustainable aviation fuels. He concluded by explaining the role of key advanced technologies like hybrid-electric propulsion, clean aviation fuels, and hydrogen propulsion to achieving net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

Shifting to the power sector, Executive Product Manager at GE Power & Water Guy DeLeonardo summarized the role that gas power is playing in decarbonization through coal to gas switching, and how projections for the next 30 years of clean energy deployment predict an increase in gas capacity generation requirements in order to meet net-zero goals. DeLeonardo also discussed the need for R&D in using hydrogen as a fuel in advanced gas turbines and outlined the benefits of continued innovations in safety and fuel efficiency research.

Closing out the panel presentations, Dr. Karen Thole spoke to the role that universities play in gas turbine R&D and the importance of strong public-private partnerships with federal agencies and the private sector. Through hands-on experience with advanced technologies, students are able to gain the skills needed to compete in the workforce. Dr. Thole outlined how these partnerships with agencies like the Department of Energy, Federal Aviation Administration, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration allow universities to play a significant role in technology development to advance the clean energy and sustainable technology goals of the U.S.

You can view the presentations here

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