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What is a gas turbine and how does it work?

22/03/2019

A gas turbine is the critical component within a power plant. It converts fuel into mechanical energy which in turn drives a generator, producing electricity. 
 
At a basic level, there are three parts that make up a gas turbine: the compressor, the combustion area and the turbine. 

Compressor

This is a cone-shaped cylinder that has internal blades attached in rows. Air enters the compressor and is forced through, rising in pressure as it does so. 
 
The source of the air can be problematic. For example, if the gas turbine is near the sea, the air will carry salts which can become deposited on the inside of the turbine. If the surroundings are industrial or urban, pollution and exhaust fumes can cause fouling. Fortunately, gas turbine cleaning detergent can be used to remedy the problem of fouling.   

Combustion area

Pressurised air from the compressor enters the combustion area. Here, fuel injectors spray fuel which mixes with the air, is lit and combusts. Different kinds of fuels can be used and examples include natural gas, propane, jet fuel and kerosene. 
 
The potential problem at this stage is that the high pressure air could extinguish the ignition flame. To get around this, a ‘flame holder’ or ‘can’ is installed which maintains a continuous flame. 

Turbine

The hot gases pass through the turbine at high speed. The turbine is made up of stationary and rotating blades which are turned extremely quickly as the hot gas expands.
 
The turbine has two functions:
1. To drive the compressor which can then continue to draw in more air to the system.
2. To spin a generator and convert the energy into electricity.  
 
A gas turbine really is a simple, yet highly effective, system. 

Improving gas turbine performance

In order to improve and maintain as efficient a system as possible, it’s imperative that the flow of air/gas is not interrupted. 
 
However, some level of gas turbine fouling is unavoidable. From salts and sand to oil and grease, impurities are present in the system whether it’s via the air itself or from the internal lube system. These foulants interrupt airflow and consequently impact on efficiency. The knock-on effect of that is increased fuel costs to run the inefficient system. 
 
Fortunately, there is a straightforward solution. To improve performance, use a specialised gas turbine cleaning detergent to remove the fouling. Fyrewash, which is made up of tried and tested gas turbine cleaning chemicals, can be used on or off line depending on the clean required. 
 
Talk to Rochem about installing an on line delivery system in order to maintain performance without the need to shut down the system. 

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