This paper describes a reduced NOx diffusion flame combustor that has been developed for the MS5002 gas turbine. Laboratory tests have shown that when firing with natural gas, without water or steam injection, NOx emissions from the new combustor are about 40 percent lower than NOx emissions from the standard MS5002 combustor. CO emissions are virtually unchanged at base load, but increase at part load conditions. The laboratory results were confirmed in 1997 by a commercial demonstration test at a British Petroleum site in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The standard MS5002 gas turbine is equipped with a conventional, swirl stabilized diffusion flame combustion system. The twelve standard combustors in an MS5002 turbine are cylindrical cans, approximately 27 cm (10.5 in.) in diameter and 112 cm (44 in.) long. A small, annular, vortex generator surrounds the single fuel nozzle that is centered at the inlet to each can. The walls of the cans are louvered for cooling, and contain an array of mixing and dilution holes that provide the air needed to complete combustion and dilute the burned gas to the desired turbine inlet temperature. The new, reduced NOx emissions combustor (referred to as a “lean head end,” or LHE, combustor) retains all of the key features of the conventional combustor; the only significant difference is the arrangement of the mixing and dilution holes in the cylindrical combustor can. By optimizing the number, diameter, and location of these holes, NOx emissions were substantially reduced. The materials of construction, fuel nozzle, and total combustor air flow were unchanged. The differences in NOx emissions between the standard and LHE combustors, as well as the variations in NOx emissions with firing temperature, were well correlated using turbulent flame length arguments. Details of this correlation are also presented. [S0742-4795(00)01602-1]

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