Cleaning and Maintaining Gas Turbines

Cleaning and Maintaining Gas Turbines

Boroscopic inspection of gas turbine

The United States uses a lot of natural gas. In fact, it is our second most used energy source, and a lot of that natural gas is produced in America. In 2016, America produced more natural gas than any other nation in the world: about 750 billion cubit meters worth.

This natural gas is used primarily to produce electricity, using giant turbines. Turbines of one kind or another have been used to produce electricity for centuries, though since the 1880s those turbines were powered primarily by steam. Today, giant Combined Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGT) are able to achieve far great efficiency than the old steam powered plants. Steam turbine plants capped at about 35-42% efficiency, while gas turbines of today are able to attain a thermal efficiency of closer to 62%.

But gas turbines, despite their higher efficiency, also present more problems than steam when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. For example, they run much hotter than steam turbines–2,000 degrees Fahrenheit rather than the 1,200 degrees more normal for a steam turbine–and this creates compressor turbine services needs on a more regular basis.

Compressor turbine services must be called in to look at all of the three main modules of a gas turbine: the compressor, the combustion module, and the turbine module itself. Turbine support often uses horoscope services to conduct a borescope inspection of the gas turbine. The borescope is a small camera mounted on the tip of a wire. This camera can be inserted into places humans could never go physically and allow us to see what’s going on in deep, dark, hot, or otherwise inaccessible places.

There are many things that turbine inspection services must be called in to inspect, as there are a number of things that can damage a turbine. The greater speed, heat, and efficiency of gas turbines
increases the need for compressor turbine services on a regular basis.

Salt particles, for example, are very destructive to turbines. When turbine blades get salt particles on them, those particles will begin to attract other particles, such as dirt and oil. The cumulative effect of this buildup, unless compressor turbine services are called in regularly to do a turbine inspection, can reduce the efficiency of the turbine?s output by as much as 15%.

Both the types of land-based gas turbines–heave frame engines and aeorderivative engines–require regular compressor turbine services and things such as borescope inspection and turbine support services. While turbines often have self-cleaning mechanisms and air filtration systems installed, these alone are not enough.

Because of the inherent design of a turbine, and its necessary sensitivity to air quality, the cooling passages will experience erosion, fouling, and corrosion, even if the turbine is located in a relatively clean environment. Regular compressor turbine services must be used to keep the system from plugging.

Gas turbines are a great step forward in cleaner, more efficient energy production. They are powering America’s energy needs in an enormous way. But these useful energy producers require regular maintenance and inspection from compressor turbine services to be kept in peak condition.

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