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How a Gas Turbine Works

Take a closer look at how a gas turbine, the heart of a power plant, turns fuel into power.

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.

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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.

Heavy-Duty Gas Turbine Overview 

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