As a type of heat engine, steam turbines utilize pressurized steam to power electrical generators for reliable, high-energy output. Their versatility in both speed options and applications makes them useful for many industrial tasks, including power production for pharmaceutical or chemical plants, pump drives in the oil and gas industry, or renewable energy solutions within waste treatment plants. According to Allied Market Research, the worldwide market value for steam turbines is expected to rise from 2019 levels of $24.1 billion to as much as $30.2 billion in 2027, making them an increasingly popular as well as efficient option for supplying continuous power.
What Is a Steam Turbine?
A steam turbine takes energy in the form of pressurized steam and converts it into kinetic energy. Subsequently, the resulting mechanical energy further produces electricity. These turbines have a simple design, made up of a rotor resting against bearings, rotor-attached blades, and sometimes steam nozzles, all within a cylindrical outer casing. There are two main types of steam turbines:
- Impulse turbine. This type of turbine rotates when fixed nozzles emit steam and cause rotary motion in the blades.
- Reaction turbine. This type of turbine utilizes both moving and fixed blades, generating motion born of reaction force when the mounted blades direct steam toward the movable blades, without the impulse force that nozzles provide.
Steam turbines are usually linked to generators. However, they offer a higher efficiency level in power generation for heavy usage in various industries. As such, understanding the mechanics of this technology and how it works is vital for individuals in such industrial sectors.
How Does a Steam Turbine Work?
A steam turbine uses a heat source such as solar, nuclear, coal, or gas to warm water up to very high temperatures for conversion to steam. The design of steam turbine blades allows them to control the steam’s direction, speed, and pressure as it flows via the turbine. Several blades are attached to the rotor in various sets in large-scale turbines. As the steam cools and flows through the turbine’s rotating blades, it also expands, exerting tangentially directed force on the blades. These blade sets then assist in extracting the energy the steam gives off. The steam produces continuous spin in the blades, which converts a large portion of the steam’s potential energy into kinetic energy. This energy can then power a generator that produces electricity. An axle connects the turbine to the generator, and this component produces an electric current utilizing a magnetic field.
The turbine blades simultaneously maintain system pressure at optimal levels. The blades reduce the steam’s pressure by minimal increments during each stage, thus reducing the force on them and improving the turbine’s overall output.
Steam Turbines at Stark Compression, LLC
Stark Compression, LLC, formerly Glauber Equipment Corporation, is a globally recognized supplier of steam turbines manufactured by Siemens Energy, offering a wide range of industrial steam turbines and small steam packages.
Below are some of the common steam turbines that Glauber Equipment supplies from Siemens Energy:
- SST-150. This single-casing steam turbine has impulse blading and a compact skid-mounted design. Its maximum power output is 20 MW. The turbine is mostly used in biomass and combined cycle power plants, mechanical drives, and chemical processing.
- SST-200. With a 20-MW maximum power output, this single-casing steam turbine comes in a skid-mounted configuration and has reaction blade technology. Biomass plants, sugar mills, as well as generator and mechanical drive applications typically utilize these turbines.
- SST-300. With a 45-MW maximum power output, this steam turbine allows multiple steam extraction and induction points. It features a compact design and has all auxiliaries and components mounted on a shared base frame. Waste-to-energy plants, combined cycle power plants, and paper mills commonly use SST-300 turbines.
- SST-400. This single-casing turbine results in direct or geared drive for compressors, pumps, and generators with a 50- or 60-Hz rating. It has a maximum power output of 60 MW. The turbine has applications in district heating, biomass energy plants, and combined cycle power plants.
- SST-500. This is a single-casing double exhaust flow steam turbine suited for large steam volume flows and a 100-MW optimum power output. The chemical industry as well as generator and pump drives use SST-500 turbines.
- SST-600. With a 200-MW maximum power output, the SST-600 is a flexible condensing and back-pressure turbine featuring a radial or axial exhaust. The SST-600 has applications in mines, steelworks, and power plants, as well as the chemical and petrochemical industry sectors.
- SST-700/900. With a maximum power output of 250 MW, this dual-casting steam turbine is ideal for reheat applications. The turbine is commonly found in combined cycle and biomass-fired power plants.
Stark Compression also provides a wide range of Siemens-manufactured small steam packages, including:
- D-R SST 350/500/700. With a 750-kW and 1,000-HP maximum output, these versatile, rugged models contain a built-in yet removable strainer for steam, labyrinth sealing glands, or a carbon ring, with a wide array of controls or accessories available.
- D-R RLA/RLVA. With a 754-kW and 1,000-HP maximum output, these durable turbines include a built-in strainer, removable carbon ring sealing glands, and a separate double-seated governor valve.
- D-R R/RS. This line of turbines has a 25,000-kW and 1,000-HP maximum output with as many as 15 stages and API or non-API options. They include single- or multi-valve inlets, multiple uncontrolled bleeds, and interchangeable parts.
- D-R K. These turbines have a single valve inlet and are ideal for applications needing back pressure or condensing. With a maximum output of 4,850 kW, D-R K models offer a variety of speed settings with continuous operation.
Benefits of Steam Turbines
Steam turbines are beneficial for their speed, power, reliability, and stability. These turbines offer varying speed options, with high-speed functionality as well as high power output, particularly considering their weight. As rotary heat engines, steam turbines are ideal for driving electric generators, and they provide reliable and continuous power. They also tend to be stable, generating fewer vibrations than reciprocating engines and maintaining balance due to the lack of reciprocating components. They also have greater thermal efficiency than reciprocating engines, and as compared to gas-powered turbines, steam turbines need a lower rate of mass flow.
Applications of Steam Turbines
In general, steam turbines provide an efficient power source as compared to electrical power. They are useful for heating and cooling systems, and also combine well with gas turbine-created heat within power plants for steam production. Some of the industrial sectors that utilize steam turbines are:
- Chemical and pharmaceutical. These sectors use steam turbines as part of their power- and heat-production systems. Steam turbines are also useful for sterilization and other cleaning tasks, as well as addressing the amount of humidity in the air.
- Oil and gas. A steam turbine functions as a compressor or pump drive to power numerous tasks within this sector.
- Waste treatment. Turbines produce the power that waste plants require to extract energy from that waste.
Stark Compression’s Steam Turbines by Siemens
An industrial steam turbine is an integral component of manufacturing and production processes to provide mechanical energy from simple, pressurized steam. These turbines are efficient and sustainable options to produce power. Stark Compression, LLC, formerly Glauber Equipment, supplies top-quality Siemens industrial steam turbines that offer maximum power outputs ranging from 20 MW to 250 MW, depending on the turbine model.
We have the steam turbine solutions to fit your industrial needs. For assistance in determining the best steam turbine for your mechanical energy requirements, contact us today.