ID: 664


The Turbogenerator – A Continuous Engineering Challenge
C. Ginet, R. Joho, Member, IEEE, M. Verrier

Abstract— Since the 1901 invention of the cylindrical rotor for a
high-speed generator, the turbogenerator has been used for converting the steam turbine and gas turbine power into electrical power. Today a wide array of turbogenerators between 50 MVA and 1300 MVA in full-speed (two-pole) design is available. The nuclear power plant business is covered by halfspeed (4-pole) designs with a range up to 2000 MVA. Today, the main drivers for design uprates are cooling design and insulation technology. The design development is supported by FEM and CFD, which in future will get linked with mechanical design tools. The future is characterized by new needs regarding power, efficiency and stability, and the commercial availability of emerging material technologies.

I. INTRODUCTION ince the 1901 invention of the cylindrical rotor of Charles Brown for a high-speed generator, the turbogenerator has been the unique solution for converting steam turbine power into electrical power. The continuously transposed stator bar, invented by Ludwig Roebel in 1912, opened the door for large scale winding application. Up to the 1930ies the generators were designed in 2-, 4- and even 6pole, in accordance with the speed optimums of the steam turbines in those days. The 1920ies ended with impressive power generation plants, having generator units in the 100 MVA range (see Fig.1). The stator winding insulation consisted in the beginning of plied-on mica-paper, compounded by Shellac varnish, later substituted by asphalt. Voltages were up to 12 kV.


In the early 1930ies two European manufacturers were introducing 36 kV stator windings, thus eliminating the machine transformer. All such designs were suffering of continuous heavy electrical discharges, and were soon discontinued. After a 60-year time-out, a manufacturer surprised the world in 1998 with a cable-based high-voltage generator up to 400 kV. However again, the cable technology was not ready for turbogenerator requirements, and a breakthrough for commercial application was not achieved. In the 1930 US manufacturers were introducing hydrogen as coolant. When combined with direct conductor hydrogen cooling in the rotor, and later in the stator, this allowed a considerable increase in specific utilization and efficiency. By early 1960 the unit ratings were achieving 500 MVA. At that time deionized water cooling in the stator winding was introduced. Around 1960 all major manufacturers changed their insulation system to mica tape with synthetic resin impregnation, a technology for thermal qualification at 155°C, and which has been lasting into these days. By end of the 1960, with the power semiconductors becoming mature, the dc machine excitation (Fig.2) was superseded by the static excitation, and by an ac exciter machine with rotating diodes.

Fig.2. DC-exciter on the left, replaced by static thyristor on the right

Fig. 1. Hellgate USA, 1928, 2 x 80 MW, with external generator fan

C. Ginet and R. Joho are with ALSTOM (Switzerland) Birr M. Verrier is with ALSTOM (France) Belfort

The 1970ies brought again a tremendous growth in unit ratings, going along with the introduction of nuclear power. Units of 1200 MVA at 3000 rpm and 1600 MVA at 1500 rpm at up to 27 kV were designed and put in operation. The rotor diameters were arriving at their physical limits. Water-cooling of the rotor winding was introduced. Along with plans for 2000 MVA and beyond, superconducting rotor windings and stator air-gap windings were studied. However, in early 1980 the market focus was shifting to gas turbine technology, with some 100 MW beginning to grow into the area of large power plants, and initiating a new round of uprating the simple and robust air-cooling technology in the 300 MVA range by 1996. The generator has for a long time been developed by repeating the cycle: design – test – adjust design tools – extrapolate design. A tremendous breakthrough came with the large computers in the 1960ies, immediately being used for

All these machines are easy to transport and to mount on site (Fig. The performance is evolving quite strongly: a world record for this kind of motor at 21 MW 5900 rpm in 1985. In two decades the power output of air-cooled generators has been increased from 200 MVA to 400 MVA. Small air-cooled generator in the 150 MVA range.5 bar. It is clear that this strong increase in power that has occurred in the last decade was a direct response to the market demands. The hydrogen-cooled types are setting the benchmark for . seems modest in view of today’s 100 MW.8 million of successful operating hours with more than 100 units in operation [2]. Evolution of the air-cooled turbogenerators in the last decades. Aircooled turbogenerators technology with highest ratings has now accumulated more than 1.5) . These generators are characterised by their simplicity and ease of operation and maintenance. By this way. magnetic equivalent circuits were established to determine excitation currents. the retightening system and the aluminum pressplate are excellent examples of the design similarities. The maintenance of these groups is quite simple requiring a small storage of spare parts. mainly for liquid natural gas pumps. These machines are mainly devoted for gas turbines and steam turbines accepting cycling expansion. They have also proven their maturity in GT24/GT26 gas turbine applications as well as on numerous steam turbines and turbines of other manufacturers. 4. The hydrogen-cooled types have hydrogen filling up to 5. Such drive motors require options similar to those developed for the generators. The models developed in 1980 for 40 MW 50 Hz/60 Hz. such as magnetic field calculations. These generators are always designed using the simplest solution in order to reach low costs using modular solutions. As a result of electrical and cooling optimisation the present air-cooled turbogenerators achieve efficiency up to 98. The new ratings of the air-cooled generator series allow for the application of air-cooled technology in power ranges where hydrogen cooled generators were used previously. Once these programs were calibrated on measured data. Fig. The cooling principle. for most applications make obsolete any FEM method. 2 values are close to generation with values between 3600 and 4200 rpm. are nowadays joined by models in the 130-150 MW range.4 shows this exceptional increase in generator power as a function of the time. The gas turbines market has led to a very standardized range of machine based on the evolution of the turbine technologies and on the market requests. Some programs of that area are even in use in the today’s PC environment. end winding support system. The speed Recently.8 % and are used with a maximum voltage of 21 kV. B. transport as a package A recent trend is the increase of the power of the electrical drives used in the oil and gas industry. The main features of the gas-cooled design are the same as the air-cooled. they have been proven very accurate and still today. Medium range up to 500 MVA Since the introduction of the 300 MVA class ten years ago. As an example. They are designed for single-shaft and combined-cycle applications and are increasingly used with steam turbines (Fig. For example the stator is cooled using one chamber and the excitation system does not need a third bearing and no pilot exciter. Small units up 150 MVA The size of these small air cooled units has evolved quite quickly. One of the main technology drivers has been the improvement of the rotor axial cooling and winding indirect cooling using a modular stator multi-chamber airflow. nonlinear coolant flow networks and mechanical turbinegenerator shaft calculations. TODAY’S TURBOGENERATOR TECHNOLOGIES A. subsequent development has extended the rating up to the 400 MVA range [1]. 3.3) and are very often mounted and coupled to the turbine by the turbine manufacturer.ID: 664 the key competences. This measure allows a better cooling and consequently enhances the capability of the air-cooled turbogenerators. Fig. They are delivered in a short time and a lot of engineering is done to improve the through put time of these models. the models used for gas turbines are easily adapted for steam turbine or double drive solutions. same generator for 50 Hz and 60 Hz with a gear box wheel and pinion adaptation. the increase of air-pressure inside the generator was realized. MVA 400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 1970 1980 1990 2000 100 MVA 200 MVA 300 MVA 400 MVA 1998 1994 1982 1977 Fig. however having a variable speed drives controlled by static frequency converters. II.

6. Since 1996. The rotor winding has revealed to be the limiting part for upratings. the turbogenerator requires present and future developments that have to comply with the . At 1. supported by a subslot. The trend on the modern reactors is also to reduce the time between refueling and the maintenance has to be adapted accordingly. Potential lies in multi-zone cooling concepts for the rotor winding. This type of machine is ensuring 80% of the electrical production in France. Based on this situation. large units commonly achieving 99. ALSTOM has supplied more than 50 units hydrogen-cooled turbogenerators of the 500 MVA range. but. which is a country with a very high electrical nuclear production. The 2000 MVA limit for turbogenerators for the 3rd generation of reactors is now close to be reached with improved life time and reliability. This allows the turbine to have very large diameter by using Fig. AN OUTLOOK INTO THE NEXT 10 YEARS A. 5. The maintenance of such a machine has to be done very carefully in order to reach the guaranteed lifetime. arranged on the non-driving end of the rotor shaft. However. more safely. Any higher unit rating must go along with a break in rotor winding cooling. Thanks to the watercooling the stator winding has ever been open factor for upratings. They are of highest specific utilization and therefore need complete direct cooling. 3 very long blades. Hydrogen-cooled turbogenerator of the 500 MVA class in standard steam turbine arrangement C.6). Fig. and units up to 1300 MVA are in commercial operation. The periodic stops to refuel the reactor are to be used for optimum maintenance. cooling is performed by axial flow of hydrogen through all conductors of a slot.25 m for 50 Hz. The hydrogen/water-cooled generators coupled to these turbines are the largest electric turbo machines both in term of size and performance. the tend to still improve the existing validated well-running units. Depending on the size the rotor. or in two paths. symmetrically fed from both ends driven by a radial fan. Large units up to 2000 MVA These generators are driven by steam turbines in large coalfired power plants and nuclear power plants. The stator winding is cooled by water-flown stainless steel tubes embedded in the Roebel bars. All the described measures will lead to a consolidation at 1400 MVA unit rating.0 %. This is a key advantage for nuclear units. The four poles machines are running at 1500 rpm up to 1700 MVA. the achievable power is much higher and will be soon at 600 MVA. In order to reach this level of power. Some 50 machines in operation of this type have shown a very good reliability in operation and have a potential of improvement in performance. Four-pole turbogenerator of the 1700 MVA class in a nuclear plant III. The two-pole generator series begins at 500 MVA. • Implement an improved type of cooling in the rotor copper ducts. and the parasitic effects due to stray flux will remain a challenge as such. They are all equipped with hydrogen-cooling with up to 6 bar overpressure. • Adapt the cantilever type of excitation technology and adapt it to be even less sensitive to diode aging. the solution preferred in the nuclear market are not based on new technologies. and with direct water cooling in the stator winding bars. The stator core is axially flown by hydrogen. where the temperature of the steam is relatively low and its flow in the low pressure parts of the turbines huge (Fig. either in one path over half-length of the rotor. Any extension in active length beyond 8m needs careful consideration of the shaftline dynamics. in an increase of hydrogen absolute pressure and fan pressure. following choices have been done: • Use the basic solutions validated by years of operation on running nuclear units • Analyze those parts which have led to the faults on existing machines • Implement improvements validated on full-speed hydrogen and water-cooled machines in the last decades. Market trends As a part of the energy chain.ID: 664 efficiency. A wide experience has been accumulated on the existing machines. the rotor diameter is at the limits of mechanical stress.

As a longstanding practice. 9. An example of design modification allowing a significant gain in losses in the stator bar is to change the bar type. By its one-side conical shape such a press plate receives and internally guides part of the magnetic stray flux of the end winding at lowest loss. Some of which are listed below: • • • • • • Excellent reliability Less civil work. Directly cooled braided stator bars with insulated cooling ducts Design: Laminated pressplate A critical issue of the largest two-pole generators is the core end heating in underexcited operation. A further refinement. such as interlamination and .8).9. 8. Teflon or even a polymer material. a central column of stainless steel ducts integrating braided bars on both sides see Fig. Substitution of hydrogen-cooled units by air-cooled units for higher reliability and low cost energy production The substitution of hydrogen-cooled units by air-cooled and of hydrogen/water-cooled by hydrogen-cooled will be continuing to shift the ratings upwards.ID: 664 market requirements as following: • • • • Higher efficiency Higher reliability Low cost energy production Grid stability enhancement 4 Design: Refined stator bar The eddy currents and the circulating currents are of a huge importance in the stator bars and can represent about 30 % of the losses in the bars [3]. 7. For directly cooled bars. large 2-pole generators with hydrogen/water cooling are equipped with conically laminated press plates on the ends of the core. which increases the DC losses. Although this idea was not the object of a deep study. However the filling factor is reduced. some examples of new design solutions and new technologies implementation to increase the efficiency will be described. the challenge is to link these stainless steal ducts at the end of each bar with an insulating material such as a ceramics. diminishing the strands size at the minimum production size in width and height. Braided bars sample would be increased. Due to the braiding the inner heat transfer is supposed to be efficient on the total length of the generator [4]. This design has MVA been proven by tests and represents the maximum achievable capability of air-cooled generators. This results in much simpler and shorter maintenance periods as well as a shorter delivery time and an increased reliability.9. To fulfill continuously these requirements huge developments are in progress as presented in the following sections. which are compacted to a ring by resin impregnation. The obtained bar is a compact Roebel bar with practically no eddy currents. In the case of water-cooled bars. it is one of the first issues considered in any new turbogenerator development. Efficiency enhancement The improvement of the efficiency is of first importance for the turbogenerator of all kind in particular in air-cooled 60 Hz units for closing the gap to the benchmark values of hydrogen-cooled units. The strands have a circular cross-section. They consist of stacked laminations. This design could be used for directly and indirectly cooled stator bars. an expert of the EPFL laboratoire “métallurgie mécanique” considers it as realisable. the hollow conductors have to be isolated to one end of the bars as shown in Fig. B. In this section. The production of such a bar type has been tested on samples (Fig. The good experience with large air-cooled turbogenerators demonstrates the high potential of these generators. Air-cooled turbogenerators offer many benefits to the operator. The limits are given by transport dimensions. The engineering will further exploit these limits involving mainly cooling and insulation materials developments. Everything considered. and by the degree of complexity of design. Fig.generator was designed for cooled turbogenerator tested at 500 500 MVA. simpler foundation No hydrogen treatment system No seal oil system and less sealing Less piping Simple engineering work due to its advanced technology These advantages are the consequences of not using hydrogen gas as a cooling medium. Stator of the largest air. C. by the established temperature classes. this design allows a gain in losses and the efficiency of the standard turbogenerator series Fig. The production of such a bar at a large scale remains a challenge to be further investigated. The largest air-cooled Fig. Actually. Therefore.

the required tight quality control for the application in manufacturing and the non-existent inherent fault tolerance for inner discharges become obstacles. Advanced multi-chamber cooling system for an air-cooled turbogenerator 6 chambers Technology integration: Insulation Since its introduction at the end of the 1950ies the synthetic resin mica tape insulation technology has been in use. . HTSL Type Present Fig. Any modified insulation system must be at least as good in these characteristics as the established technology. a better utilisation of the materials as well as a better efficiency.ID: 664 intralamination gaps helps to lower the eddy currents losses (Fig. such as axial ventilation of the rotor and indirect cooling of the stator winding. and probably in a later stage class 180 peaking. The present state of the superconductors allows application in small generators. throughput time. Technology integration: Superconducting field coil In turbogenerators.5% -B ≈ 2 T -800 Euro/kAm -Iop: 200 A/mm2 -15 Euro/kAm Fig. the rotor material technology brings along all prerequisites to be upgraded into class 180 technology. High temperature superconductors: Generator market expectation D. it is of utmost importance that both stator and rotor winding designs can accommodate their elongation due to thermal expansion. allowing class 155 operation.Increasing the electrical field stress to a higher value. The maximum achievable thermal conductivity is at 0.11. A schema of the present cooling system of an air-cooled generator is presented in the Fig. Pressplate of large two-pole turbogenerators Design: Cooling system An improvement of the efficiency by reduction of the airflow losses is in continuous progress using as support CFD programs. This trend continues especially for the hydrogen and the aircooled generators. the materials of 2nd generation of HTS and prices announced for 2012 give a real interest for future generator development integrating this technology [4]. A worldwide survey has been collected in particular for turbogenerator (Fig. Other criteria are sensitivity to manufacturing variances. All these improvements for the stator winding insulation look likely to shift the bottleneck into the rotor. Such novelties close to introduction are: . As specified by standards. the main possible application of superconductors is in the field winding.5 W/mK.9). even if its output voltages are at a low level. Fortunately. insulation verification tests are commonly based on comparative tests in specific characteristics. This is due to the fact that many components are inherently class 180 and simply need a tighter specification to become qualified. higher mica content by denser roving carrier. Stability improvement: Excitation booster Generally speaking. 12. Therefore it looks that small steps in today’s proven insulation technology will be realized earlier. the excitation current of large generators is managed thanks to an avr-controlled thyristor rectifier.12). . 5 (class 180). However when benchmarking with mica tape insulation. This can become impossible when the thyristor rectifier reaches limits given by its AC feeding.4% -B ≈ 2 T -100 Euro/kAm - 2G YBCO -Toperation:50K -Iop: 100 A/mm2 -Mechanical stress >= 0. environmental compliance and second source availability for the components. Over the past years a worldwide re-evaluation of insulation technologies has been observed. Both technologies are in verification tests. In the last decades the improvement of the cooling. the avr will counteract. to keep the control of the excitation current for obtaining the over-excitation of the generator. 1G BISCO -Toperation:30K -Iop: 100 A/mm2 -Mechanical stress 0.10. a 15% gain seems achievable. A set of design measures has been worked out to provide this safety. For industrial production. This allows a better heat transfer and more copper in the slot. . 11. On the far horizon polymer insulations might become an option. directly supplied by the three phase voltages generated by the generator itself. Such a technology is in final verification and will soon be available. In the case this voltage drops down.Improved tape. A possible solution is to oversize the transformer connected between the output of the generator and the thyristor rectifier. now commercially available: high thermal conductivity using fillers (HTC).Improving the insulation system to a higher thermal class 2008 2012 Fig. In the case of class 180. allowed huge capability enhancement.

Joho. Result of an advanced magnetic field calculation with UNIFELD. Cracow. Zimmerli.ID: 664 A solution is to add an additional energy source in the form of a pre-charged supercapacitor bank (Fig. on EC.14). Stephan. 23 Oct. “Electromagnetic and thermal calculations of end region components of large turbogenerators”. IEEE PES General Meeting 2006. Some of the more used are: • SIMSEN • Matlab Simulink The second category of programs is based on FEM calculation and gives detailed information of what happens in the generator. 3. K. Joho. To assess the real benefit. Joho. "Ten years of operational experience with ALSTOM’s air-cooled TOPAIR turbogenerator in the 300 MVA class and above". IEEE Trans. These programs integrate transient and substransient models of generators. SME 2006. A. R. R. FEM will be interactively combined with machine parameter tools. Switzerland. W. Dättwil. The future market will be characterized by a revitalized need for very large turbogenerators. is the most interesting for turbogenerator applications. stator voltage. "Flexible AC generation solutions”. Sept. Report 260037 (in German). The magnetic field (Fig. FEM integrated in machine models which themselves are part of simulation tools could be used for investigations of harmonics of currents or voltages on the generator components. China. M. Turbogenerator cross section Fig. eddy currents. Engineering calculation tools Concerning the future of engineering tools we expect the further linking of the design geometry with the modeling tools. Arend. Bialik. CIGRE Session 2006. vol. Canada. For this kind of calculation the detailed design of the generator is required. 2004. Two main categories of programs are used at the present. Ventilation models are introduced in order to know the resulting temperature distribution in the generator. Supercapacitors seem to be well adapted in view power density. 17 November 2006. and this in both ways. Poland. A. eventually replacing large test arrangements. Picech. Shugui. Schleussinger. Swiss Federal Department of Energy (BFE). CONCLUSIONS Since more than 100 years turbogenerators have been in use for steam turbine and gas turbine applications of any size. In any case highly skilled engineers paired with the best available design tools will be required. The application of such a program provides a better understanding of the turbogenerator coupled with the electrical grid. paper A1-106. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] . Mayor. powers. presented at IEEE PES Swiss Chapter Workshop on Power System Stability. Hong Kong. Haldemann. no. The technical evolution has not stopped. Simond. Montreal. For the turbogenerator.-J.13. Furthermore we expect more use of CFD. C. which mixes both categories of programs and gives combined results for the grid as well as the generator. The simulation is going to be performed with SIMSEN and Matlab Simulink E. the system is incorporated to every turbogenerator of the modeled electrical grid.-E. C. torques in function of time can be obtained. Ramirez. C. “Generators: superconducting technology competing with improved conventional technology”. J. Tu Xuan. C. REFERENCES [1] R. Ziegler. Power-Gen Asia 2006. even in case of heavy drop of the main supply [5]. “Large air-cooled turbogenerators extending the boundaries”. 19. IV. Principle of the Boostercap introduced in a standard excitation system A study in collaboration with EPFL and Technical University of St-Petersburg is in progress to demonstrate the positive impact of such a system on the stability of an electrical grid. J. both two-pole and 4-pole. Ginet. “Transpositions in stator bars of large turbogenerators”. a precursor is the virtual short circuit testing program of EPFL [6]. 2006. a complete result including stator and rotor current. 14. P. B. losses and forces are calculated. • • ANSYS/ Emag UNIFELD (in-house development) 6 Fig. J.13) that allows the control of the excitation current. Ginet. C. paper 615. The future will also be characterized by an exciting competition between well-established conventional solutions and new “high tech” solutions. Some of the most used programs [7] are : • Magnet (Infolytica) • Electra (Vector Fields) • Maxwell (AusSoft) An approach. "A numerical test platform for large synchronous machines also useful as a design optimization tool". The first is employed to simulate events in the electrical grid and to demonstrate the consequences on grid stability. new market requirements and new material technologies ask for adaptations in design.

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