What is a Gas Turbine and How Does It Work?

What Is a Gas Turbine?

The gas turbine is the engine at the heart of the power plant that produces electric current.

A gas turbine is a combustion engine that can convert natural gas or other liquid fuels to mechanical energy. This energy then drives a generator that produces electrical energy. It is electrical energy that moves along power lines to homes and businesses.

Fast Fact: The GE 7F.05 gas turbine generates 225 MW, equivalent to 644,000 horsepower, or the power of 644 Formula One cars.

How Does Gas Turbine Work

How the Gas Generator Produces Electricity

To generate electricity, the gas turbine heats a mixture of air and fuel at very high temperatures, causing the turbine blades to spin. The spinning turbine drives a generator that converts the energy into electricity.

The gas turbine can be used in combination with a steam turbine—in a combined-cycle power plant—to create power extremely efficiently.

  1. Air-fuel mixture ignites.
    • The gas turbine compresses air and mixes it with fuel that is then burned at extremely high temperatures, creating a hot gas.
  2. Hot gas spins turbine blades.
    • The hot air-and-fuel mixture moves through blades in the turbine, causing them to spin quickly.
  3. Spinning blades turn the drive shaft.
    • The fast-spinning turbine blades rotate the turbine drive shaft.
  4.  Turbine rotation powers the generator.
    • The spinning turbine is connected to the rod in a generator that turns a large magnet surrounded by coils of copper wire.
  5. Generator magnet causes electrons to move and creates electricity.
    • The fast-revolving generator magnet creates a powerful magnetic field that lines up the electrons around the copper coils and causes them to move.
    • The movement of these electrons through a wire is electricity.

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