Gas and steam turbines are staples in the electricity generation industry. As the market becomes more competitive, keeping assets running efficiently at power generation plants is more critical than ever. This means ensuring that turbines are operating reliably and efficiently is just as important.
Condition monitoring plays a significant role in that. By employing an effective solution that monitors the temperature, pressure, and humidity levels of a plant’s assets, operators can diagnose problems or damage to turbines and inconsistencies among processes. Addressing and repairing these issues before they become problems saves downtime and replacement costs.
Initial testing of the plant’s processes after construction can help ensure your assets and turbine are operating properly. Commissioning processes depend on the type of turbine, its application, and size, so there’s no cookie-cutter method for ensuring a new turbine is performing up to the task. Along with standard tests of the turbine’s electrical infrastructure and civil engineering quality checks, there are common tests at the plant level that must be a part of any commissioning process.
Turbines operate within harsh conditions that include inclement weather, high winds, and constant motion. Operating in these elements can adversely impact various components within a turbine’s gearbox, rotor, bearings, and the tower itself. Humidity and moisture in the gearbox can cause less than the optimal operation of rotary components, leading to corrosion, reduced product quality, and ultimately break down.
Monitoring a system’s performance can be a good indicator of any potential problems with a turbine. By keeping tabs on a system’s humidity, as well as the ambient humidity of the plant, operators can gauge any potential effects on a turbine’s performance.
To keep a turbine operating consistently and with minimal chance of overheating, it is necessary to keep components within the gearbox well lubricated and cooled with clean oil. A good filtration package is also important. Monitoring changes in a system’s temperature and pressure levels can help operators identify when filters and/or oil in the turbine may need to be replaced.
Also, monitoring for increased fuel consumption and/or reduced output could indicate a more serious problem, such as compromised integrity of rotary components within the turbine. Such issues can lead to displacement or damage to toothed gears, blade damage or fatigue failures, and other structural damage that will ultimately impact a system’s performance.
Sensors need to handle the harsh environment in which turbines exist. They need to be able to consistently deliver accurate readings amid high-speed blade rotation, rapid airflows, high temperatures, and large-amplitude vibrations.
Parker’s SensoNODE™ Blue sensors and Voice of the Machine™ Software allow users to monitor conditions using multiple sensors simultaneously, each measuring the temperature, pressure, or humidity of specific points within a system. Using Bluetooth technology, the sensors transmit large volumes of data to mobile devices wirelessly, keeping operators out of dangerous situations.
Small and easy to install, SensoNODE Blue sensors eliminate the heavy, complex wiring setups that could limit the versatility of the sensors and stunt the monitoring process. Since no wires exist, they’re not at risk of being caught in moving parts, which means quicker and lower costs for the commissioning process.
Contributed by David Shannon, business team manager, Parker Hannifin, Quick Coupling Division.
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