Gas Turbine

Gas turbine plant efficiency – balancing power, heat, and operational flexibility

Also known as a combustion turbine, a gas turbine runs on the Brayton cycle. This is a kind of continuous cycle of natural gases under heat and pressure. They are also treated with natural gas and other fuels through the valve inlet. Gas turbine services are inclined to maintain the performance of the power plants.  While there are many types of gas turbines, the main function and elements remain the same. Thus, some of the major components of gas turbines are: 

  • An upstream gas compressor that needs to be rotating 
  • A combustor 
  • A downstream turbine on the same shaft of the compressor 

While these components remain the same, there is an additional fourth factor that helps with increasing the efficiency of the turbine. The function of a gas turbine is to generate electricity through the conversion of energy. This is done with the help of chemical energy which is converted into mechanical energy and then into electricity with the help of generators. 

How does a gas turbine work? 

Under the working principle of the Brayton cycle, gas turbines use air as the working fluid. This air is heated and pressurized all the same as a steam turbine. Although the difference lies in spraying fuels like natural gases through the valves while the air is being treated with high temperatures.  The pressure in a gas turbine is isobaric, which means it remains at a constant pressure. 

With internal friction and turbulence, the mechanical energy of a gas turbine changes irreversibly. When the temperature is increases and heat is added to the combustion chamber, the specific volume increases. This is done with a little loss of pressure. The transformation occurs irreversibly again and fresh air is passed through which displaces the heat rejected area. 

How to optimize gas turbines to work more efficiently? 

Operators are always looking for ways to increase their output without causing much harm to the environment. The ideal efficiency of a gas turbine is 60% as per 2011 studies under Mitsubishi. Although in recent times, the thermal efficiency of gas turbines is 30%. But this can be increased by manipulating some of the below-mentioned elements of a gas chamber: 

Inlet air warming 

In ideal conditions, the pressure and the temperature inside the gas chamber need to be in balance. That means, that the temperature and the pressure must maintain a certain ratio to generate the maximum output. This is not possible to do so during the cold weather. In such cases, you can warm up the inlet air filter. This strikes a balance between the temperature and the pressure of the turbine. Thus it will also increase the efficiency of the power plant. 

Injecting steam or water 

If you are looking to increase the output and thus the efficiency, then you ought to try some non-conventional methods. Inserting warm water or steam through the inlets is another way to do so. This will help increase the flexibility and reduce the emissions from the exhaust chamber, significantly. However, because of the compressed stream and the already forming pressure in the chamber, you should be careful. Too much steam can interrupt the pressure and temperature ratio inside the chamber which will make matters worse. 

Filtering air inlet 

Another way to increase the efficiency of gas turbines is to clear out the air inlet. The circumstances inside the turbines and around the area are very hot and thus, you ought to be careful with the residue. There will be a lot of dirt and particulates that will be on the blades and the air inlet. You need to clean them regularly to increase performance and efficiency.

 Flexibility and efficiency

While people are always on the lookout to increase efficiency, it is important to look into other factors of gas turbines. It is not always important to look for other aspects that will improve the overall performance. Flexibility is something that you should also pay attention to. Along with the tips and tricks to increase efficiency, one needs to understand that putting too much pressure on something that is not ready to do so will take a turn for the worse. 

Hence flexibility with respect to providing more turbines altogether is important. The CEO of Rolls Royce intends to make the size of the turbines bigger to incorporate more volume and in turn more energy. Alongside one needs to take care of the maintenance of the gas turbines in order to get better results. 

Conclusion

Thus, to conclude, it is established that to increase the performance of gas turbines, you should look into a lot of things. That includes the factors like maintenance of the elements even something as small as an air inlet. Moreover, now it is established that with increased flexibility you can also increase efficiency and thus the output.

About Cheryl Salinas

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