Steam turbines are one of the main suppliers of electric power generation in the current global market. Invented in 1884 by Sir Charles Parsons, steam turbines operate to convert steam-based thermal energy into rotational energy to produce electricity. Statistically, steam turbines contribute to approximately 90% of the world’s electric output total. Multiple manufacturers have a high electricity demand in different industries currently and they are opting for natural resource-based energy production prospects.
Due to the higher demand for thermal power and electric power generation, the market size of the steam turbine industry has an expected CAGR of 2.8%. Statistically, the projected market value of steam turbines is $30.2 billion between 2020-2027. There are multiple useful benefits that steam turbines offer that are responsible for their rising growth rate. In this article, you would learn about the various advantages of steam turbine services.
What is the work of a steam turbine?
To note, steam turbines are industrial-level devices that generate mechanical energy from pressurized steam. The machine utilizes natural heat sources like sun, nuclear, gas, or coal to heat water into steam. Thereafter, the generated steam pressurizes, expands, and cools as it passes via the turbine blades. The rotational movement of the blades mixed with steam creates kinetic energy that passes through the axle into the generator. Here, the rotational energy converts into electricity.
Types of steam turbines
The classification of steam turbines showcases two sub-types. They are:
- Reaction-based steam turbines
- Impulse-based steam turbines.
Generally, impulse turbines include a combination of multiple blade types that alternate with fixed nozzles. Other names of this steam turbine type are Brown-Curtis turbine, Rateau turbine, or Curtis turbine.
In contrast, steam turbines which have multiple moving nozzles and fixed nozzles in the alternate pattern are called reaction turbine. Another name for this is a Parsons turbine.
Benefits of steam turbines
There are multiple advantageous factors about steam turbines. They are explained hereafter.
1. Versatile mechanism
Steam turbines can produce electric energy at a low cost and have multi-purpose uses. Currently, many industries depend on steam turbines; it is effective for electricity production, power generators, and vehicular propulsion for ships, airplanes, and missiles. Also, steam turbines can operate with multiple types of energy resources as well, like natural gas and nuclear power. Therefore, in terms of both usage potential and production, steam turbines are versatile machinery.
2. High vacuum
Steam turbines can handle a high amount of vacuum suitably. This is not possible for steam engines.
3. High power output
Steam turbines can produce a huge amount of energy and are best suited for bigger power plants. Generally, the steam turbine machines are made in larger sizes specifically. The design of steam turbines can extent to 200,000 HP or over in single shaft-centric systems. To note, larger-sized machines produce a higher amount of energy. Thus, in terms of both performance reliability and energy output potential, steam turbines can guarantee high caliber power generation.
4. Low amount of vibrations
Notably, steam turbines work with lesser parts unlike other alternatives like piston engines or reciprocating engines. Therefore, they can produce a higher amount of power with fewer vibrations.
5. Reliable build
Steam turbines are typically manufactured with durable and hardy materials. The components within the overall machinery are prepared with high-quality materials as well. Moreover, multiple materials here are chosen depending on their overall resistance to high temperatures and pressure. This is because of the high-temperature levels the turbines can go up to for energy production.
These components are tested carefully for stress reduction and structural malfunctions. Power plant operators must conduct regular maintenance checks to ensure long-term usage.
6. Thermal efficiency
In comparison to other options such as reciprocating engines, the thermal efficiency rate in steam turbines is comparatively high.
The steam turbines can reach very high speeds of operation. Also, they do not need as much mass flow rates as gas turbines do. To note, the engine model in most steam turbines is rotary in nature. Therefore, it is a useful turbine type for electricity generators specifically.
Steam turbines do not contain many reciprocating particles. Therefore, this machinery has a stable balance typically.
9. Smooth operation
Steam turbines do not have multiple parts that are in continuous motion. The overall mechanism involves less complex components like the piston head or piston. Therefore, the operation of the steam turbines is usually smooth as well as quiet.
10. Continuous output of power
The power generation that occurs in steam turbines is continuous. The heat sources generate steam from water and the steam moves through the blades to the generator. As passes through the blades, the hot steam cools down. Later, the excess steam that does not convert to electricity converts back into liquid. This is used in the future power generation cycle by heating the re-liquified water into steam.
Moreover, steam turbines provide unique torque as well. Thereafter, there is zero loss of the initial steam condensation.
Overall, steam turbines provide very high quantity power output and can generate a huge amount of electric power. These turbines can run on high-temperature components and provide many benefits. However, to ensure continued high-quality performance, it is important to conduct frequent maintenance checks.