Currently, there are multiple power plants available worldwide for energy generation. Among them, the gas turbine industry is an effective and popular source of environmentally responsible electricity generation. Research shows that the market share of the gas turbine industry was valued at $20.38 billion in 2020.
Overall, gas turbines run on natural gases mainly, and multiple regions are adopted these power generation systems for energy generation. In fact, the CAGR of this market share is expected to grow by 6.8% between 2021-2028. For power plant owners, gas turbine maintenance and upkeep is an important task to handle for meeting the industry demand. Indeed, multiple issues can damage the turbine condition and reduce the performance rate.
In this article, you would get an overall understanding of why maintenance and repair are necessary for gas turbines.
What are gas turbines?
Gas turbines are combustion engines that run in a continuous sequence, mainly on natural gases. Here, you can view three main components which contribute to its overall operation. These include a gas compressor that rotates upstream, downstream turbine, and the combustion chamber that connects both parts.
Typically, gas turbines are effective for powering aircraft, trains, pumps, electrical generators, tanks, and gas compressors.
How do gas turbines operate?
Simply put, the fresh air from the atmosphere flows inside the compressor. Here, the air pressurizes into rotational energy and mixes with fuel that enters the chamber through the nozzles. Afterward, the fuel is burned and mixes with the pressurized air. Thereafter, this forms into a high-temperature high-pressure gas within the combustion system.
Following this, the gas passes into the turbine. Here, the rotational energy from blades expands it down to exhaust the pressure. As a result, the energy turns into thrust and shaft work output; hereafter, electricity is produced.
Common issues in the gas turbine operation
Multiple problems are visible in the gas turbine components during the gas turbine operation. The manufacturing parts can get defective, and similar issues may appear in the base materials and coatings during service. Also, the cooling channels may have a wrong positioning in the system or have blocks. Moreover, corrosion and excessive strain are possible besides short overhaul cycle conditions and high-temperature wear.
Hence, conducting proper maintenance and repair services is essential for power plant owners to improve system performance. To note, the cost of maintenance can rise due to expensive materials, overhaul cycles, and high-temperature conditions. Indeed, gas turbines often operate at temperatures over 1300°C, and corrosive gases are used sometimes as well. This can increase the stress on the turbine components and cause defects.
Why is gas turbine maintenance necessary?
Generally, gas turbines are not very hard to maintain which boosts their competence rate for customers. In comparison to piston turbines, gas turbines have fewer moving parts and have a less complex construction. Yet, the operational speed of gas turbines is very high; this can increase the wear rate in the turbine parts.
Therefore, gas turbine maintenance is very crucial. Small salt particles in the atmospheric air can enter and damage the turbine components. Thus, power plant operators should conduct borescope inspections for finding potential threats in the performance capacity of the machinery.
Indeed, salt particles that enter the system stick to the blades; this attracts additional particles like dribs and dirt. A huge amount of dust particle accumulation can decrease the power output of the components to some extent. Operators have to purchase new components or repair damaged ones, which racks up a sizeable cost. Also, power losses are likely if the turbine maintenance staff do not catch the issues in time.
Therefore, power plant professionals need to schedule proper maintenance inspections regularly. Additionally, operators of desert-based turbines must replace and fit air filters daily for gas turbine preservation.
Overview of the in-let air filtration system
Certainly, it is very important to manage excellent air filtration services; this ensures high gas turbine reliability and performance. Statistically, the cost of fuel makes up 80% of the overall electricity generation lifecycle budget. Extra costs are also necessary for repair and maintenance.
Therefore, power plant owners must opt for well-designed aero-derivative ventilation and combustion air filter system for gas turbines. This safeguards the turbine components from air-borne contamination, salt particles, dirt, and foreign objects. Also, inlet conditioning parts optimize the filter system performance.
Here, the primary maintenance steps you should perform include:
- Inspection of high-temperature sections– Since the combustion system can go up to extremely high temperatures in land-based turbines, overheating is a possibility. Here, use modern techniques like thermography, horoscope, and infrared imaging tests for detection.
- Regular inspections- Hold daily inspections of the gas turbine components. Overall, compare the OEM baseline performance data with the current output data to find any deviations. Consequently, prioritize repair strategies as per the severity of the issue, and provide upgrades as well.
Indeed, maintenance of the gas turbines is important to ensure high-level performance for a long period. The operational quality of a gas turbine determines how many consumers would depend on it for power generation. Therefore, gas turbine operators must conduct regular inspections and repairs.