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Some Power Sources Compared

by David Steinberg

Watt Steam Otto Cycle Diesel Various Stirling Gas Turbine Fuel E
Reciprocating Turbine (4 stroke) Engine Rotory Engine Cells M
Steam Engine Gasoline Engines See
Engine (Wankel
Efficiency Watt 2.5% Steam Most Ideal diesel Has the -stationary gas turbines can reach an efficiency
turbines automotive efficiency of potential of about 40%
Multiple typically have and small 56% to be more
expansion a thermal aircraft efficient - They can be particularly efficient when waste
steam engines efficiency of engines have - large than a heat from the gas turbine is recovered by a
greatly improved about 35 25-30% marine gasoline or conventional steam turbine in a process known
efficiency. Now percent, thermal engines can diesel as a combined cycle. Efficiencies of 60%+ can be
about 17% meaning that efficiency. exceed 50% engine realized
35 percent of thermal
the heat of efficiency
is - normally
transformed diesels
into achieve and
electricity. efficiency of
about 35%
Inventor James Watt Sir Charles Nikolaus Otto Rudolph Robert See below Mich
-1736 - 1819 Algernon 1832-1891 Diesel 1858- Stirling Fara
Parsons 1913 1790-1876 1867
the f
AC m
Key Dates 1776 – Watt built 1882 – first - patent for 1816 he 1791 - John Barber received the first patent for a 1821
an engine with a Parsons demonstrated the device received basic turbine engine. His design was planned to Fara
cylinder of 127 brought out by Nikolaus on February his first use as a method of propelling the 'horseless mot
cm diameter to his reaction Otto in 1876 23, 1893 patent for carriage.' The turbine was designed with a chain- Dav
pump water steam turbine and a new type driven, reciprocating type of compressor. It has inve
1778 - final 1885 Gottlieb building a of "air a compressor, a combustion chamber, and a elec
version of the 1894 Parsons Daimler and functional engine". turbine. in a
new Watt engine took out Wilhelm prototype in a sm
patent No. Maybach early 1897 1872 - Dr. F. Stolze designed the first true gas elec
1782 - Watt 394 for patented one which went turbine engine. His engine used a multi-stage railw
made his 'Propelling a of the first into turbine section and a flow compressor. This 1835
double-acting vessel by successful production engine never ran under its own power.
engine With this means of a high-speed
improvement the steam internal- - SELANDIA 1903 - Aegidius Elling of Norway built the first
engine had turbine….” combustion (1912) successful gas turbine using both rotary
double the engines and Selandia, compressors and turbines - the first gas turbine
power with the 1897 – developed a first with excess power.
same Turbinia carburetor oceangoing
displacement demonstrates allowing use diesel 1897 - Sir Charles Parson patented a steam
speed of gasoline engine- turbine which was used to power a ship.
1807 - First potential of as fuel. powered
commercially marine steam ship. 1914 - Charles Curtis filed the first application
successful river turbine for a gas turbine engine.
boat the North - 1923/24
River Steamboat 1898 - HMS the first 1918 - General Electric company started a gas
(often called the Viper first diesel- turbine division. Dr. Stanford A. Moss developed
"Clermont"). steam turbine driven the GE turbosupercharger engine during W.W.I.
powered trucks It used hot exhaust gases from a reciprocating
1838 - The side- warship engine to drive a turbine wheel that in turn drove
wheel paddle - 1936 a centrifugal compressor used for
steamer SS series supercharging.
Great Western Dreadnought, production
1920 - Dr. A. A. Griffith developed a theory of
was the first most of the first
turbine design based on gas flow past airfoils
purpose-built powerful war car diesel
rather than through passages.
steamship to ship in the engine
initiate regularly world used 1930 - Sir Frank Whittle (1907-1996) in England
scheduled trans- steam - 1924 first patented a design for a gas turbine for jet
Atlantic turbines diesel propulsion. The first successful use of this
crossings. switching engine was in April, 1937. His early work on the
1906-7 engines. theory of gas propulsion was based on the
Cunard sister contributions of most of the earlier pioneers of
ships 1930 Diesel this field.
turbine- engines
driven suitable for 1936 - At the same time as Frank Whittle was
Mauritania main line working in Great Britain, Hans von Ohian (1911-
and Lusitania locomotives 1998) and Max Hahn, students in Germany
fastest liners developed developed and patented their own engine
on Atlantic in Germany design.
and USA
1920-58 - 1939 – GM 1939 - Heinkel Aircraft flew the first flight of a
Steam started gas turbine jet, the HE178.
turbine mass
locomotives production 1941 - Sir Frank Whittle designed the first
a failure of diesel successful turbojet airplane, the Gloster Meteor,
mainline flown over Great Britain. Whittle improved his jet
locomotives engine during the war, and in 1942 he shipped an
engine prototype to General Electric in the
1935 - first United States. America's first jet plane was built
heavy-oil the following year.
1942 - Dr. Franz Anslem developed the axial-flow
turbojet, Junkers Jumo 004, used in the
Messerschmitt Me 262, the world's first
operational jet fighter.
Prospects The Steam Being - Diesel Continue The two major application areas of gas-turbine Unli
reciprocating turbines are challenged engines to be used engines are aircraft propulsion and electric
steam engine no longer by fuel cells have for power generation. Gas turbines are used as
powered the competitive in the key become specialized stationary power plants to generate electricity as
industrial with diesel automotive dominant tasks stand-alone units or in conjunction with steam
revolution. As units for sector. for railway power plants on the high-temperature side. In
latye as World commercial and marine these plants, the exhaust gases serve as a heat
War II it was marine propulsion, source for the steam. Steam power plants are
being us3ed to propulsion or heavy considered external-combustion engines, in
power Liberty with gas machinery which the combustion takes place outside the
Ships. However, turbines for and heavy engine. The thermal energy released during this
it seems to have non-nuclear vehicles. process is then transferred to the steam as heat
no future even naval ships.
though, using - Outside of Gas turbines, in the form of turbofan engines are
modern In nuclear North dominant as aircraft power units. Combined
materials the ships, all of America, cycle power plants are well established in power
steam which are electricity is generation and gas turbine emergency
locomotive naval, preferred to generators compete with diesel units. Gas
might be made nuclear diesel on turbines have not competed successfully with
competitive with energy is high volume diesel and electricity in railway oservicerailways.
today’s diesels used to railway
(see A blast generate lines.
from the past, steam to
Economist power steam - the future
Dec 17th 1998). turbines. role of
However, diesels in
nuclear light
energy does vehicles
not seem set and small-
to be used in scale power
commercial generation
shipping. is unclear

cycle gas and
steam turbine
systems may
have a future
in shipping.
Comments Freq
the o
is al

David Steinberg

Sept 2004
All of the marine power plants currently in use and under contemplation for future use can be classified according to the following basic thermodynamic
1. Rankine cycle-Steam turbines of 2,000-100,000 SHP/unit
2. Brayton cycle-Gas turbines of 500-40,000 SHP unit
3. Otto cycle-Reciprocating internal-combustion gasoline engines of 10-2,000 SHP/unit
12-20. Speed-power trends for ship-type ranges
4. Diesel cycle-Reciprocating internal-combustion
diesel engines ….
The steam turbine is well suited to the largest power plants, produces a uniform turning effort, burns the least expensive fuel, and is capable of relatively
high efficiencies, long endurance, long life, long mean time between overhaul (MTBO), and reasonable maintenance. It has the inherent disadvantages of
large space requirements, a large watch-standing force, slow response time, being slow in getting under way, intermediate energy conversion with its
secondary working substance, mechanical non-reversibility, and high turbine speed. These latter two disadvantages necessitate a separate, low-efficiency
astern turbine of reduced power and large, heavy reduction gearing to the propeller shafts. The speed reduction is needed to allow both the turbine and the
propeller to operate in their most efficient speed range.
Gas turbines are powering an increasing number of high-speed displacement ships and the majority of high-performance vessels. This is because they
have the lowest ratio of machinery weight to horsepower (specific weight) of any of the marine power plants. Gas turbines are very reliable …, provide
quick response after a cold start, and are adaptable to remote-control operation with a small watch-standing force. There is little maintenance between
overhauls and most installations are designed to replace the entire engine, much like the aircraft jet engine from which it was derived. The disadvantages
of gas-turbine propulsion include a large volume for the total plant, most of which is taken up by the inlet and exhaust ducting for the large quantities of air
and exhaust gases. Although the gas turbine is reasonably efficient at the design power rating, it has a very high specific fuel consumption off the design
rpm. It also has no reversing capability, so controllable pitch propellers are almost always found in gas-turbine powered ships. To improve fuel consumption
at cruising speeds in twin-screw vessels, one of the controllable pitch propellers is often "feathered," or aligned with the flow, so the shaft does not rotate
and all of the propulsion comes from the remaining shaft.
Gas turbines are perhaps most sensitive to atmospheric air temperature. Their power output will drop as inlet air temperature climbs. At the same time, the
steam cycle's efficiency drops when the cooling water temperature in the condenser rises, which is also a function of its operating environment. It should also
be pointed out that gas-turbine costs may be as much as 30 percent greater than those for steam power plants, since the gas turbine burns a higher grade
The low-speed, direct-coupled diesel engine is the most efficient of all the marine power plants, with specific fuel consumptions as low as 0.29 Ib/hp-hr. …
it is being used to power most new merchant ships ….”

“It is probable that attention was first given to the idea of a practical internal combustion turbine in the early years of the present century. In 1906 M Rene
Armengaud converted a de laval impulse turbine to operate on compressed air mixed with metered quantities of petroleum vapour, the mixture being fired
by means of an incandescent platinum wire igniter The useful output was about 30hp.

“Inevitably, the designer came up against the problem of the high gas temperature which was to prevent any
significant advance in practical gas turbine design until the developments in metallurgy engendered by the 1939-45 war. Combustion took place at about
1800 deg C in Armengaud's machine, and the combustion
chamber was lined with carborundum. Steam produced in a steam coil within the chamber was mixed with the gas products to bring the turbine inlet
temperature down to about 400 deg C.

“In addition to the work by Armengaud and others in France, the gas turbine received considerable attention in Germany, where in 1910 Holzwarth
designed and built. with the help of Korting Bros and the Brown Boveri company, a vertical constant-volume turbine designed to deliver 1000hp; it was
coupled directly to a dc electric generator mounted above the turbine. Instead of the continuous-combustion principle of the Armengaud turbine, ignition in
the Holzwarth machine was initiated by a spark generated by high-tension magneto, and the hot gases were passed to a two-stage Curtis impulse power
turbine. Steam generated by otherwise waste heat was used to drive a turbo-compressor supplying the combustion air, absorbing a great part of the
theoretical total output, and the useful power amounted only to about 160hp.

“Development work came to a halt during the 1914-18 war but it was resumed in 1918 in the wake of interest
shown by the Prussian State Railway administration. In the following year an order was placed for a 500bhp unit driving a dc generator. At about the same
time consideration was first given to the use of an internal-combustion turbine for marine propulsion and in December 1920 a Holzwarth unit, arranged for
mechanical drive through reduction gears instead of electrical drive, was delivered for trials.

“Like modern machines, the marine turbine had a number of equally spaced combustion chambers (in its case six) arranged around the horizontal shaft;
as in the earlier Holzwarth design, the air compressor was driven by a steam turbine utilising the exhaust gas heat for steam generation. The design of a
… turbine of this type for marine propulsion was illustrated and discussed in The Motor Ship for May 1922, but at berst the machine was regarded only as
a possible competitor for the steam turbine.

“As it turned out, the complexity of the Holzwarth design and doubts about its material reliability militated against any further commercial development of
the marine gas turbine for another quarter of a century.

“Apart from the lack of suitable materials for use in a high-temperature environment, the early gas turbines also suffered from inefficient compressor
design. Between the wars, however, the Parsons Marine
Steam Turbine Co in England, and others, devoted considerable effort to the development of axial-flow compressors. In 1938 the Parsons company built
an experimental gas turbine employing an engine-driven
compressor of the axial-flow type and thus the way was opened for the development of the small gas turbine for auxiliary power drives.

“Elsewhere, with the added impetus generated by the impending war, the gas turbine was under development as an aircraft jet engine and in 1941 Sir
Frank Whittle produced his first successful aero
gas turbine. In the meantime, however, research work continued on the development of what was essentially an internal combustion version of the marine
steam turbine, since advantages were seen in its basic simplicity compared with the diesel engine and the fact that it could be run on a wide range of fuels.
Compared with the aircraft gas turbine, such machines were heavy and comparatively slow running
but that was considered to be no great drawback; it was expected that engine life to worn-out condition would greatly exceed that of the aircraft jet engine
and that on-board maintenance demands would be small.

“In Britain, Metropolitan-Vickers Ltd was well to the forefront in the design and development of gas turbines of the marine steam turbine-derived type. In
1951 a 1200hp unit was installed for comparative trials in place of one of the four diesel propulsion engines in the 12,000-ton (deadweight) single-screw
diesel-electric tanker Auris …. The gas turbine unit, which burned diesel or the heavier residual fuel oils, proved reliable in service and in March 1952 the
Auris crossed the Atlantic using only the gas turbine-driven alternator and burning furnace fuel oil. No great problems were encountered and the vessel
was able to maintain an average speed of 7.25 knots.

“In all, the Metrovick machine ran for about 20,000 hours….”
From The Illustrated History of Ships edited by E L Cornwell, Octopus Books 1979

“In the 1970s, a significant number of ships were powered by steam turbines. But during the 1980s and 1990s, diesel engines swept the field, because they
permitted substantial savings in fuel costs. American President Lines next generation of container ships, the C-10's, are powered by diesels, and achieved a
60% savings in fuel use over the steam turbine-powered C-8's. The last edition of Containerisation International Yearbook, which lists all container
vessels in mZmmercial service or under construction, reveals that only several hundred of the over 7,000 container ships in service were powered by steam
turbine engines.”


There are no alternatives to small and medium size diesel engines in marine applications.

Over the last several years, gas turbine engines have begun to be used as an alternative to large slow-speed diesels. Gas turbine use of lighter distillate fuels provides
lower emissions. Although gas turbines have been used in military vessels for many years, it is only recently that they are being installed in large ocean-going commercial
vessels. Their commercial reliability is yet to be seen.”