What Gas and Steam Turbines Do For Industry


Ever since the 1800s, when the Industrial Revolution began, newer and more powerful sources of energy were created, such as steam power and electricity, both of which rely on certain hardware to be produced and distributed. From the 1800s to now, turbines of all kinds have been central to generating power for power plants, factories, and even vehicles. Coal-powered turbines, for example, literally fueled the Industrial Revolution and made powerful ocean vessels and electricity possible, everywhere from a factory to the famed Titanic. Today, turbines are still commonly used for generating power and work of all kinds, and gas turbines have emerged as an upgrade over older steam-powered turbines. How might gas turbines or other types be inspected and maintained so that they do not jam or get broken down?

The Work of Turbines
From the 1800s to now, turbines are used to propel ships, generate electricity, and more, and this may even include clean, “green” energy production, a rapidly emerging new sector of industry. The concept of turbine work is fairly simple and has changed little since the 1800s. Pressurized gas or steam will flow through tubes that expose the turbines and their fans to this pressure, and that in turn causes the turbines to rotate. This rotational power is what generates electricity or does work, and the process is complete. In the old days, steam-powered trains and ships would have coal furnaces that boiled water, which in turn became pressurized steam that would rotate turbines. This was also done to generate electricity ever since the 1800s, and today, gas turbines might be used, too.

Natural gas has often replaced older steam power for modern turbine work, and a gas turbine makes use of natural gas to rotate. This is common in the United States, due to the power of such turbines and the availability of natural gas. In fact, it has been determined that a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine, a CCGT, plan may achieve a thermal efficiency of 62% in base-load operation, and this compares favorably to a single cycle in a steam-powered plant, which may have efficiency anywhere from 35% to 42%. Natural gas is plentiful in the United States, which makes it an attractive option for gas turbines. In 2016, for a recent example, the United States stood as the world’s largest producer of natural gas, extracting some 750 billion cubic meters of it. This gas is used in a wide variety of applications, often gas turbines. In fact, this is the second most widely consumed resource in the entire country, and turbines are what benefit the most from it. But turbines are hardware, and like any other machine, turbine inspection and turbine support services may be needed to keep them in good shape in a factory or power plant.

Turbine Repair and Inspection

Any responsible factory or power plant manager or owner will make sure that all the hardware in the factory is in good working order, and this will include the turbines. Turbines may wear out over time, corrode due to exposure to certain materials or extreme heat or cold, or even become jammed, since they are moving items. But turbines, even when they are not moving, may be difficult or dangerous to reach or inspect in person, so inspection crews may make use of borescope inspection methods. This is when a device has a long, flexible tube at the end that has either a video camera or sensors at the end, which allows a user to insert this camera deep into a machine to get readings or a visual on the parts inside. This allows inspection or repair crews to quickly locate and diagnose a problem, so in turn repair crews can take care of it. Salt damage, for example, is something that a factory owner may have to look out for. It has been found that when salt particles attach themselves to turbine blades, they may in turn attract other particles, such as dirt, and all this can add up. In fact, if turbine blades become contaminated enough, they can reduce the turbine’s power output by as much as 15%. This and other problems can be diagnose with a borescope.

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