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Improve Steam Turbine Efficiency

Understand the factors that affect steam consumption

Steam are a major energy consumer. Optimising process operating conditions can
considerably improve turbine water rate, which in turn will significantly reduce
energy requirement. Various operating parameters affect condensing and back
pressure turbine steam consumption and efficiency.

Why Important
The industrial sector is the largest energy consumer, accounting for about 30 % of
total energy used. Fuel and energy prices are continuously rising.

With the present trend of energy prices and scarcity of hydrocarbon resources
lowering energy requirement is a top priority. Energy conservation benefits
depend on the adopting minor or major modifications and using the latest
technology. Energy conservation does not mean curtailing energy use at the cost
of industrial and economic growth. In the large process industries, steam turbines
are the main energy consumers. Savings achieved here will be significant, with a
better return on investment than for most other equipment.

Effect of operating conditions on steam turbines

A condensing turbine system is shown in figure 1. Turbine exhaust operating


below atmosphere, is condensed in a shell and tube exchanger called surface
condenser. Condensate flows in the shell side of the condenser and steam is
condensed by the cooling water. Vacuum in the surface condenser i.e. turbine
exhaust vacuum is controlled/ maintained by vacuum ejector system of the
surface condenser.

Turbine Vent

Condenser
CWR CWR
CWS CWS
Inter/after condenser
Boiler

Motive Steam
BFW Pump

Figure 1 : Diagrammatic details of a condensing type turbine

Contd..2/-
-2-

Turbines are designed for a particular operating conditions like steam inlet
pressure, steam inlet temperature and turbine exhaust pressure/ exhaust vacuum,
which affects the performance of the turbines in a significant way. Variations in
these parameters affects the steam consumption in the turbines and also the
turbine efficiency. Theoretical turbine efficiency is calculated as workdone by the
turbine to the heat supplied to generate the steam. Efforts are made to show the
impact of various operating conditions by considering the following steam
conditions as illustration.

Condensing Type turbine Back pressure type turbine


Steam inlet pressure 40 kg/cm2a Steam inlet pressure 40 kg/cm2a
Steam inlet 350 deg C Steam inlet 350 deg C
temperature temperature
Exhaust vacuum 657 mm Hg Exhaust pressure 4.5 kg/cm2a
Turbine rated BHP 10000 HP Turbine rated BHP 10000 HP
Steam consumption 27785 Steam consumption 57960

In the above referred turbines, 1 % reduction in steam consumption saves around


$ 47000 annually for condensing turbines and around $ 84000 annually in back
pressure turbine. LHV of the fuel for generating steam is considered as 10500
kcal/kg and boiler efficiency is taken as 87 %. Effect of various operating
parameters is illustrated in the succeeding paragraphs.

2.1 Effect of Steam inlet pressure

Steam inlet pressure of the turbine also effects the turbine performance. All the
turbines are designed for a specified steam inlet pressure. For obtaining the
design efficiency, steam inlet pressure shall be maintained at design level.
Lowering the steam inlet pressure will hampers the turbine efficiency and steam
consumption in the turbine will increase. Similarly at higher steam inlet pressure
energy available to run the turbine will be high, which in turn will reduce the steam
consumption in the turbine. Figure - 2a & 2b represents the effects of steam inlet
pressure on steam consumption and turbine efficiency respectively, keeping all
other factors constant for the condensing type turbine.

Contd..3/-
-3-

99.9
34.2
99.6
34
Steam consumption, %

Turbine efficiency, %
99.3
33.8
99

98.7 33.6

98.4 33.4
98.1
33.2
97.8
33
35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45
Steam pressure, kg/cm2 Steam pressure, kg/cm2

Fig 2a : Effect of steam pressure on Fig 2b : Effect of steam pressure on


steam consumption in condensing turbine efficiency in condensing
type turbine type turbine

Figure - 2a & 2b indicates that increase in steam inlet pressure by 1 kg/cm2 in


condensing type turbine reduces the steam consumption in the turbine by about
0.3 % and improves the turbine efficiency by about 0.1 % respectively.

In case of back pressure type turbine increase in steam inlet pressure by 1 kg/cm2
reduces the steam consumption in the turbine by about 0.7 % and improves the
turbine efficiency by about 0.16 % as shown in figure - 3a & 3b . Improvement in
back pressure type turbine is more than the condensing type turbine.

100
19.5
99
Steam consumption, %

98 19.2
Turbine efficiency, %

97 18.9
96
18.6
95

94 18.3

93 18
92
35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45
Steam pressure, kg/cm2a Steam pressure, kg/cm2a

Fig 3a : Effect of steam pressure on Fig 3b : Effect of steam pressure


steam consumption in back pressure on turbine efficiency in back
type turbine pressure type turbine

Contd..4/-
-4-

2.2 Effect of Steam inlet temperature

Enthalpy of steam is a function of temperature and pressure. At lower


temperature, enthalpy will be low, work done by the turbine will be low, turbine
efficiency will be low, hence steam consumption for the required output will be
higher. In other words, at higher steam inlet temperature, heat extraction by the
turbine will be higher and hence for the required output, steam consumption will
reduce. Figure - 4a & 4b represents the effects of steam inlet temperature on
steam consumption and turbine efficiency respectively, keeping all other factors
constant for the condensing type turbine.

100
34.4
98
34.2
Steam consumption, %

Turbine efficiency, %
96 34

33.8
94
33.6
92
33.4
90
33.2

88 33
300 310 320 330 340 350 360 370 380 390 400 300 310 320 330 340 350 360 370 380 390 400

Steam temperature, deg C Steam temperature, deg C

Fig 4a : Effect of steam temperature Fig 4b : Effect of steam


on steam consumption in condensing temperature on turbine efficiency
type turbine in condensing type turbine

Figure - 4a & 4b indicates that increase in steam inlet temperature by 10 deg C in


condensing type turbine reduces the steam consumption in the turbine by about
1.1 % and improves the turbine efficiency by about 0.12 % respectively.

Contd..5/-
-5-

100
19.5
98

Steam consumption, %
96

Turbine efficiency, %
19.2
94

92 18.9

90
18.6
88

86 18.3
84
300 310 320 330 340 350 360 370 380 390 400 300 310 320 330 340 350 360 370 380 390 400

Steam temperature, deg C Steam temperature, deg C

Fig 5a : Effect of steam temperature Fig 5b : Effect of steam temperature


on steam consumption in back on turbine efficiency in back
pressure type turbine pressure type turbine

In case of back pressure type turbine increase in steam inlet temperature by 10


deg C reduces the steam consumption in the turbine by about 1.5 % and improves
the turbine efficiency by about 0.12 % as shown in figure - 6a &6b. Improvement in
back pressure type turbine is more than the condensing type turbine.

2.3 Effect of exhaust pressure/ vacuum

Higher exhaust pressure/ lower vacuum, increases the steam consumption in the
turbine, keeping all other operating parameters constant. Exhaust pressure lower
than the specified will reduce the steam consumption and improves the turbine
efficiency. Similarly exhaust vacuum lower than the specified , will lower the
turbine efficiency and reduces the steam consumption. Figure 6a & 6b represents
the effects of exhaust vacuum on steam consumption and turbine efficiency
respectively, keeping all other factors constant for the condensing type turbine.

Figure 6a & 6b indicates that improvement in exhaust vacuum by 10 mm Hg,


reduces the steam consumption in the turbine by about 1.1 %. Improvement in
turbine efficiency varies significantly from 0.24 % to 0.4 %.

Contd..6/-
-6-

100 34.8
99 34.5

Steam consumption, %
98

Turbine efficiency, %
34.2
97
33.9
96
33.6
95
33.3
94
33
93
92 32.7

686 679 672 664 657 650 642 635 628 620 613 686 679 672 664 657 650 642 635 628 620 613

Exhaust vacuum, mmHg Exhaust vacuum, mmHg

Fig 6a : Effect of exhaust vacuum on Fig 6b : Effect of exhaust


steam consumption in condensing vacuum on turbine efficiency in
type turbine condensing type turbine

In case of back pressure type turbine reduction in exhaust pressure by 1.0 kg/cm2,
reduces the steam consumption in the turbine by about 0.8 % and improves the
turbine efficiency by about 0.14 % as shown by figure - 7a & 7b.

100 19.5

99
19.2
98
Steam consumption, %

Turbine efficiency, %

97
18.9
96

95
18.6
94
93
18.3
92

4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 5.0 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 5.0
Exhaust pressure, kg/cm2a Exhaust pressure, kg/cm2a

Fig 7a : Effect of exhaust pressure on Fig 7b : Effect of exhaust pressure


steam consumption in back pressure on turbine efficiency in back
type turbine pressure type turbine

2.3.1 Factors affecting the exhaust vacuum in the condensing type turbines

• Vacuum ejector system

Vacuum ejector system creates and maintains the vacuum in the surface
condenser by removing the air/ inerts ingress. Removal of air/ inerts ingress is
important, as accumulation of this hampers the performance of surface

Contd..7/-
-7-

condenser, which reduces the surface condenser vacuum. Motive steam


condition shall be maintained as specified. Inter-after condenser shall be
cleaned in the available opportunity, as they get choked due to foreign
material coming with cooling water.
• Flange joints shall be tightened properly to avoid any ingress of air.
• Exhaust side of the turbine shall be properly steam sealed to avoid any
ingress of air.

• Higher size of exhaust pipe

In many condensing turbines it is observed that the exhaust vacuum of these


turbines is much less than the vacuum at the condenser. Mainly, it is due to
the higher pressure drop in the exhaust pipeline from turbine exhaust to the
condenser. In order to improve the vacuum at turbine exhaust so as to reduce
steam consumption in the turbine, exhaust pipeline of these turbines can be
replaced with higher size. In one of the turbine, exhaust line size of 900 mm
was replaced with 1300 mm. The pressure drop in the exhaust pipe reduced
by 50 mm Hg i.e. vacuum at the turbine exhaust improved by 50 mm Hg. Pay
back period of replacing the exhaust pipeline was 6 months with investment of
$ 40000.

2.4 Replacement of turbine with turbine of improved water rate

Steam consumption in the older turbines, mainly in the back pressure turbines, is
much higher than the new generation turbines. Water rate of older back pressure
turbines varies from 35 kg/hr-hp to 50 kg/hr-hp, while water rate of new generation
turbines varies from 15 kg/hr-hp to 35 kg/hr-hp.

As a measure to conserve steam so as to conserve the energy cost these turbines


can also be replaced. In one of the lube oil single stage turbine steam
consumption was 2500 kg/hr, this was replaced with the new single stage turbine
with a total cost of $ 55000. The steam consumption in the new turbine is 1300
kg/hr i.e. steam savings of 1200 kg/hr. Pay back period was just only 5 months.

3.0 Conclusion

Steam Turbines are one of the main energy consuming equipments, eventhough
not much attention is paid to them. Trimming of operating parameters are
essential for efficient operation of these turbines. Illustration given in the paper
shows impact of operating conditions on steam turbines. Savings presented are
for a typical operating conditions. Huge benefits can be reaped by optimizing
operating parameters, by minor modifications and even by replacing old in-efficient
turbines.