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Steam Turbine Generator Performance and Reliability Optimization

Timothy S. Hoyt, Regional Product Engineer

Over time, a paper mills steam distribution system will be revised and adapted to meet the changing demands of the
mill. With these revisions the steam flow and power production capacity of a mills steam turbine generators can be
affected. In addition, the internal components of a steam turbine wear and become less efficient. Performing a
thorough energy balance analysis to define the electrical and thermal power requirements is essential to maximizing
the utilization and efficiency of these energy forms. Using the energy balance information, the internal steam flow
path of the turbine including valves, stationary nozzles and rotating blades can be redesigned to match the required
steam conditions and flows while maximizing electrical power production. Older steam turbine generators can be
upgraded for improved reliability and control through the utilization of up to date control systems, bearings, shaft
seal systems and instrumentation to monitor vital operating parameters. Payback for these turbine upgrades can be
less than 2 years.
This paper reviews the parameters which must be analyzed to insure that the thermal energy demands of the mill are
met while maximizing the production of electrical power generated. Improved turbine generator operational
reliability will also be described through the use of upgrades to bring various turbine components and auxiliary
systems up to date with todays available technology.
The production of steam and electrical power are vital processes for the effective operation of any pulp or paper
mill. Equally important for the long term financial well-being and reliable operation of the mill is that these
processes are managed to meet the energy demands of the mill. Finally they must be operated and maintained to the
most economical degree possible to insure that the mill will produce competitively priced products and a reasonable
return to the investors. From the initial design and construction of the mill to its present day operating parameters,
the demands on the steam and electrical energy networks will most likely change over time. Equipment and
processes may be added or possibly taken out of service. Existing production operations may be revised for various
reasons which will typically have a direct impact on steam and electrical energy requirements. The fuels used by the
boilers for steam production may have changed in heat value and cost. Electric power contracts for the purchase or
sale of electric power with local utilities change over time. After many years the effect of any one or potentially
several of these items can create a significant impact on the operational economics of the mill. From time to time it
is important to analyze and review these characteristics and determine if potential modifications to the steam and
electrical power systems may be warranted in order to improve the economical operation of these energy systems.
Modifications to these vital systems can also have beneficial effects to the overall environmental impact of the mill.
One major goal of this energy analysis is maximizing steam flow through a steam turbine for the production of
electric power. Matching the internal steam flow path components of the turbine to the actual operating conditions
and the required flow parameters of the mill can yield improved turbine efficiency and increased electric power
Development of a plan to optimize the mills steam turbine generators will require a thorough analysis of the
following areas:

Energy System Audit

Steam Generation Costs
Turbine Generator Actual Operating Conditions vs. Design Conditions
Turbine Flow Path Design
Turbine Materials of Construction
Seal, Bearing and Control Upgrades

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Steam and Electrical System Audit

A thorough review of the steam production, distribution and condensate return systems is required for a proper
steam system analysis. The first step in the steam generation process is the boiler. Each of the mills boilers must be
reviewed as to both its design and actual operating capacities. Boiler discharge pressure and temperature as well as
flow rate must be clearly defined as well as any cyclic, periodic or seasonal limitations. It will be important to
understand that these variations exist as they may be in opposition or harmony with the cyclic or seasonal demand of
the mills electrical requirements. An example would be reduced boiler capacity during the hot summer months due
to a mass air flow limitation while the need for electrical power to provide both air and water cooling applications
are at peak demands. If deviations are discovered between design or nameplate values and the actual day to day
operating parameters, there is cause to investigate the reason for this difference. There may be minor repairs or
adjustments that would eliminate any reduced capacity and return the operating values to their original design
values. The deviations may be of a more significant nature and have been the status quo for a long period of time. In
this case, it will be important to disregard the original design capacities of the boiler and only use the actual
operating parameters for the steam system analysis.
The next step is a review of the steam distribution and steam users network throughout the plant. This will include
the steam turbine generators and any other steam turbine driven pumps, fans or mill line shaft drives. Steam line
and valve capacities must also be analyzed to determine if the steam generated by the boilers can be properly
distributed to the various steam users within the mill boundaries. Equipment may have been added or removed from
service, altering the flow requirements of the system. Some mills may produce and sell steam to near-by facilities
which, in a similar manner can experience changes in their steam flow requirements. The addition of equipment and
its associated flow requirements may have caused the flows and pressures within a given section of the steam
distribution system to be out of an acceptable tolerance range. It is very important that each and every steam
producer and consumer be identified to fully assess the steam flow and energy balance throughout the mill. Finally,
the condensate return system(s) must be reviewed and all of the parameters of these systems analyzed. Once the
steam has been used for all of its intended purposes it must be returned to the boiler to complete the cycle. Although
the return of condensate does not directly affect the turbines operating parameters it will have an impact on the
calculation for the cost of steam.
All these aspects of the steam generation, distribution and condensate return systems must be fully analyzed and
understood to develop a proper and realistic set of steam supply and demand parameters for the turbine generators.
Without the proper and accurate determination of steam and condensate flow parameters the efforts to revise the
steam turbine generator(s) will likely fail to produce the desired, beneficial results of more efficient energy
In a similar manner the entire electrical power system must be analyzed. The addition of motor driven, HVAC and
other electrically driven equipment over the years will increase the load requirements of the system. Conversely, the
removal of these types of equipment or replacement of certain electrical devices with more modern and efficient
models can reduce electrical load requirements. Expanded or increased mill production levels will also have direct
impact on the electrical power requirements. Clearly distinguishing the electrical power requirements in all areas of
the mill and load variations due to production or seasonal deviations is essential to defining whether or not revisions
to the operating characteristics of the turbine generator are justifiable or not. Understanding whether or not there are
existing short term plans for the addition or de-commissioning of equipment is equally important to account for
future load requirements. The balance of electrical power generation on-site versus site consumption and the
availability of purchased or local utility power must be considered. Finally and possibly most importantly is the cost
analysis of the mill generated power and purchased power as the terms of power contracts can present various
advantages and disadvantages.
The investigation and development of the mills actual operating energy parameters is critical to the fundamental
goal of optimization of the steam and electrical energy balance. Thorough analysis of these energy streams will
provide the key input data to determine how to best modify the steam turbine generator(s) to match the requirements
of the mills steam system. It is most likely that this fact finding effort and energy analysis will require more
resources than the mills engineering or maintenance personnel can provide. Under these circumstances it may be
necessary for an outside engineering firm or specialized energy audit consulting firm to be contracted.

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Steam Generation Cost

An extremely important aspect of the energy analysis is to determine the cost of steam generation. It will be one of
the key parameters for all the financial evaluations of potential improvements and upgrades. The cost of steam is
based primarily on the cost of fuel used by the boiler to generate steam. However it is also heavily influenced by the
boiler efficiency and condensate return systems. The basic cost of steam is commonly referred to as the unloaded
cost of steam1. The following equation can be utilized for the calculation of unloaded steam costs.


[af x (Hg hf)] / (1000 x nb)

Sc = Steam cost in $/1000 lbs

af = Fuel cost in $/MMBtu
Hg = Enthalpy of steam in Btu/Lb
hf = Enthalpy of boiler feedwater in Btu/Lb
nb = True boiler efficiency per ASME PTC 4.1 as a percent
1000 = Conversion factor to provide cost per 1000 lbs per hour

Boiler feedwater enthalpy, h f is a function of all sources of feedwater which in most applications is a mixture of the
various condensate return systems as well as feedwater make-up. To insure that h f is accurately calculated it is
important to account for all of these sources in proportion to their contribution to the total boiler feedwater supply.
hf = (% Make Up x Make Up Enthalpy) + (% Atmospheric Condensate Return x Atmospheric Return
Enthalpy) + (% Low Pressure Condensate Return x Low Pressure Enthalpy) + . . . .
While the unloaded cost of steam accounts for the primarily factors involved with the cost of steam production a
more inclusive cost is referred to as the loaded cost of steam. The loaded cost of steam accounts for various indirect
costs such as labor, waste disposal, chemical treatment, water and emissions. These items contribute to the steam
generation costs and can result in loaded steam cost being 50% to 100% greater than the unloaded cost 3.
Basic Steam Turbine Principals
The steam turbine is an energy conversion device which transforms the thermal energy contained in the steam
flowing through the turbine into mechanic energy; i.e. horsepower at the shaft end of the turbine to drive various
types of equipment such as an electrical generator. The power produced by the turbine is a function of both the drop
in steam energy through the machine and the amount of steam flow passing through the turbines stationary nozzles
and rotating blades. The most basic equation for the calculation of power created by the turbine is
Power = Steam Flow x Energy Drop
Conversion Factor

Power = Horsepower, HP or Kilowatts, KW

Steam Flow = Pounds per hour, #/hr
Energy Drop = Enthalpy of Inlet Steam, BTU/# minus Enthalpy of the
Discharge Steam, BTU/#
Conversion Factor = 2545 BTU/HP hr or 3413 BTU/KW hr

This equation reveals that the only mechanisms by which the power produced in the turbine can be affected are to
either alter the amount of steam flow through or the energy drop across the turbine. Changing the energy drop would
require a change to the inlet steam conditions; i.e. temperature or pressure, or a change to the exhaust steam
conditions or potentially some combination of change to both the inlet and exhaust steam conditions. While there
are certainly limits as to the extent either the flow or the steam conditions can be revised for a given turbine, these
are the operating parameters that must be matched to the characteristics of the mills steam system as determined by
the energy analysis previously described. These limits would include parameters such as steam flow velocities, the
turbine case maximum pressure and temperature ratings as well as the allowable working pressure and temperature

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ratings of the steam piping distribution system. A revision of the turbines steam flow rate(s) is the more common
parameter to be modified and a flow increase can usually be accommodated within certain limits.
Steam turbine driven generators used for paper mill applications typically fall into one of these standard turbine flow
path designs shown in the following diagrams. There is the most basic straight through design where all of the steam
that enters at the inlet flange passes straight through the machine (with the exception of some shaft and valve
leakage flow) and discharges through the exhaust flange, see Figure 1. Steam turbines may discharge to a positive
pressure for steam that will be utilized by process or other equipment or it may discharge into a condenser for
conversion to condensate and return to the boiler. Turbines discharging at positive pressure are commonly referred
to as backpressure or non-condensing while units discharging to vacuum are referred to as condensing turbines.
Another typical type of turbine would be considered an un-controlled extraction or bleeder turbine, see Figure 2.
Once again this type of unit may discharge to either a positive pressure steam header or a condenser. The uncontrolled extraction allows a portion of the inlet steam flow to exit the turbine case for use elsewhere in the mill.
The amount of extraction steam flow and the pressure of this steam line would be controlled by means other than the
turbine control system. A more sophisticated means of an extraction turbine would be either a single or double
controlled extraction type as shown in Figures 3 and 4 respectively. With a controlled extraction turbine the
turbines governor control system not only maintains control of the turbine speed or load, but also controls the
extraction system(s) pressures. Typically the extraction steam pressure is maintained by the turbine control system
to pass sufficient steam flow to sustain a specified steam header pressure for distribution to other steam users
throughout the mill. As the pressure decreases in either of the extraction headers the control system will adjust the
turbine inlet and extraction valves to allow more flow to exit the turbine case and maintain the proper pressure(s).
Conversely if the extraction header pressure increases the turbines inlet and extraction valves will adjust to allow
more steam to pass through the turbine which in turn produces more electrical power in the generator. Single
extraction turbines are essentially two turbines in series with each other in one, common turbine case and similarly,
double extraction turbines are three turbines in series.

Figure 1: Straight through Flow

Figure 2: Un-controlled Extraction Flow

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Figure 3: Single Controlled Extraction

Figure 4: Double Controlled Extraction

While not as common as extraction turbines where a portion of the inlet flow exits the turbine case, an admission
turbine is one where additional steam flow is brought into the turbine case at a point of lower pressure than the inlet
steam pressure. Their physical configuration is very similar to the extraction type turbines however steam flow
enters the case rather than exiting the case. This additional flow increases the steam flow through the remaining
stages of the turbine and will thereby increase the power generation capacity. Admission turbines are practical when
there is an excess amount of lower pressure steam available to be converted into useful electrical power.
Steam turbine cases and their various steam lines should always be fully insulated for both personnel protection and
to minimize the energy loss. The US Department of Energys(DOE) Best Practices Steam program recommends
insulation for any surface over 120oF. Insulation will reduce thermal energy loss which is estimated by DOE to
average on the order of 6%. Inadequate turbine case and steam line insulation will contribute to poor unit efficiency
and reduce the potential energy that is available for the turbine to transform into useful electrical power.
As previously stated, power generated by the turbine is a product of the steam flow and the energy drop across the
turbine. With an extraction or admission each section of the turbine from the point where steam enters to the point
where steam exits the case must be analyzed as a separate power producing entity. The potential to alter the steam
flow or the energy drop across one or more of these sections can allow the turbine operating conditions and the
mills steam generation and distribution requirements to be better synchronized along with improving the operating
efficiency of the turbine or a particular section of the turbine.
Turbine Operating Conditions
Once the steam energy audit has been completed and the actual operating steam conditions and flow requirements of
the mill have been defined, attention will then focus on the operating conditions of the steam turbine. Every steam
turbine is originally designed for a specific set of operating conditions at which it will operate at best efficiency and
produce the amount of power required. As steam conditions and flows deviate from these values, the turbine
performance (i.e. efficiency) will become less than ideal. While the turbine may still have the capacity to produce
the power it was originally rated to generate, it will likely do so with less than optimum efficiency. The design steam
parameters should be available either on the units nameplate or the instruction manual. In the event this information
is not available it will be necessary to contact the OEM with the unit serial number to obtain these values. The
process of modifying a turbines operating parameters with new internal components is commonly referred to as a
revamp or rerate.
In addition to the focus on maximizing unit efficiency; potential power generation must also be considered. If there
is now a significantly greater amount of steam flow available to use for power generation, it may be more
economically viable to sacrifice optimal efficiency for a simple increase in power generation. A turbines capability

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to pass higher steam flows requires more flow area within the various stages of the turbine. While simply passing
more steam through the turbine will generate increased power it may not result in the most efficient turbine
performance. Detailed analysis of the turbine flow path at the higher steam flow rates is required to determine the
new operating efficiency. It is very likely that to achieve best efficiency at higher steam flow more than just
increasing the flow area of the steam path will be required. These two aspects can easily be addressed at the same
time by the turbine OEM while reviewing the new operating conditions. They will be able to perform detailed flow
path analysis to find the best solution for both efficiency improvement and increased power production.
This same analysis of steam flow area and operating efficiency is applicable for a reduction of steam flow through
the machine. As with an increased steam flow condition, a turbine operating at reduced or less than design steam
flow will likely be operating at less than ideal efficiency. This situation does not properly utilize the available energy
in the steam flow and therefore results in less power generation than is potentially available. Improved power
generation and efficiency can be achieved by redesigning the steam flow path for the reduced flow rate and
incorporating flow path improvements.
The important issue to understand is that proper design and selection of the turbines steam flow path area and
geometry will harmonize with the actual operating steam pressure, temperature and flow rates to obtain optimum
efficiency and power generation. The additional power production created by either the improved efficiency or the
increase of steam flow through the turbine can reduce the amount of purchased power required from the local utility
and may potentially result in excess electrical power generation which could be sold back to the utility. Only a
detailed economic analysis of the various scenarios will identify which of these is more desirable.
There are limitations to the variation possible from original design conditions for a given unit. Variation of steam
pressure and temperature can only be within acceptable physical limits of the turbine case. While there are various
turbine case materials, each has a maximum allowable working pressure and temperature that will remain within
safe and acceptable stress limitations. If the desire is to increase pressure or temperature at the inlet or discharge
connections, this can only be done within the allowable working limits of that section of the turbine case. Being a
function of the case material and mechanical design, altering operating parameters outside of original design limits
is not easily accomplished without significant engineering study and potentially an extensive modification of the
turbine case.
Turbine flange connection size can also be a limiting factor as flow velocities need to be maintained at or below
turbine industry standards. Inlet flow velocities of high pressure steam are typically limited to a maximum velocity
of 175 ft/sec. Exit steam flow velocities for positive pressure discharge or backpressure turbines are limited to a
maximum velocity of 250 ft/sec. Extraction turbines are also limited to extraction line flow velocities of 250 ft/sec.
while the steam flow velocity at the discharge of a condensing turbine can be as high as 450 ft/sec.
Turbine Flow Path Design
Over the course of time improved turbine design and analysis techniques associated with the flow of steam through
both the stationary steam path nozzles and rotating blades have resulted in numerous performance benefits. Turbine
steam flow paths in todays units have considerably different geometry than those from the past decades. These
advancements allow more of the steams thermal energy to be converted into useful mechanical energy with the
same steam conditions and flow as older units. The key factor for turbine performance is called the velocity ratio
which is defined as the ratio between the wheel pitch diameter peripheral velocity versus the steam jet velocity
exiting the nozzle. This is a function of the rotational speed of the unit, stage energy or enthalpy drop and as
previously stated the pitch diameter of the bladed wheel. One significant aspect of the stationary steam path nozzle
geometry improvement is the profiling of the inner and outer endwalls of the steam flow path through the
diaphragms; referred to as Profiled Ring and Vane or PRV by Dresser-Rand. These end walls were previously
machined straight to simplify the machining operations, but with more sophisticated manufacturing and machining
techniques now available these end walls can be contoured to ideally match the individual stage requirements for
peak efficiency. An example of this endwall profiling is shown in Figure 5. Improvements to rotating blade
geometry have reduced losses associated with inefficient flow patterns. The performance characteristics of both the
stationary and rotating blades have benefited significantly from these advancements as shown in Figure 6. A
comparison of old and new flow path configurations is shown in Figure 7. There are distinct differences between the
airfoil profiles of the stationary nozzle.

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Figure 5. End Wall Profile

Figure 6. Stage Efficiency vs. Velocity Ratio

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Figure 7. Conventional vs. Modified Diaphragm Design

Incorporating these performance advancements at certain selected stages or throughout the entire unit can result in
substantial efficiency improvements. Depending upon the circumstances of the units present operating condition;
how worn and/or damaged the flow path components are and the potential revision of the original design operating
conditions to now match the present day actual operating conditions, it is possible to improve the overall operating
efficiency of the unit in the range of 5% to 10%.
In conjunction with the stationary and rotating steam flow path modifications it is also important to examine the
turbines inlet control or governor valves and in the case of extraction or induction units these turbine steam control
valves as well. The turbine valves have to be properly sized to meet the new flow requirements with minimal
pressure drop. Equally important is proper valve timing or sequencing for a conventional, multi-valve system.
Steam flow capacities of the typical paper mill steam turbine generator require a series of valves which open in a
specific sequence with a precise timing arrangement. To maintain proper steam flow and minimize pressure drop
across these valves, the point at which the next valve begins to open is most critical. This is illustrated in the
performance curve shown in Figure 8. As the first valve to open reaches its steam flow capacity; the next inlet valve
opens to admit additional steam flow and so on for the third, fourth and fifth valves. The curve clearly shows that
depending upon the specific operating point and corresponding valve position this can result in up to 300KW power
loss. By clearly defining the desired operating flow rates for the unit the valve sizes and their timing sequence can be
designed to minimize these losses and generate maximum power for the desired steam flow.

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Last Valve to Open and

Maximum Flow Value

4th Valve
3rd Valve
2nd Valve

1 Valve to Open

Figure 8. Power Loss due to Valve Throttling Loss

Every turbine and its unique operating situation will require a thorough investigation and analysis to determine the
best solution to bring the units operation in-line with the mills energy requirements. From the basic in-kind repair
or replacement of old worn-out flow path components to the installation of newly designed, up to date high
efficiency steam flow path components, there are numerous options and combinations which can be utilized to bring
older steam turbines into a more modern configuration. Proper analysis and application of todays turbine
technology will provide improved efficiency, increased power production, improved reliability and extend the
operating life of the turbine generator.
Steam Path Material Upgrades and Coatings
Maintaining proper dimensional and geometrical parameters of the steam flow path through the turbine is critical to
achieving and maintaining optimum turbine performance. Traditional steam flow path components, both stationary
and rotating were manufactured from basic materials suitable for the operating steam conditions of pressure,
temperature and the associated stress levels. Some more advanced designs may have accounted for a certain degree
of moisture content in the steam at the rotating blades of the low pressure stages. In either case, after many years of
operation these materials can become worn or eroded from the constant flow of wet steam and any other materials
which may be present in the steam flow. Degradation of surfaces will typically have adverse effects on operational
efficiency. Upgraded materials and coatings can provide improved surface finishes over the typical machined finish
and a more durable, longer wearing surface.
Carbon steel components operating in wet steam (steam which is not completely dry and saturated but contains some
amount of moisture) will be subject to a wear phenomenon called erosion/corrosion 4. The replacement of carbon
steel components with ones manufactured from chromium steel alloys will drastically reduce if not eliminate the
erosion/corrosion process from occurring. This will result in much longer life of the components and will maintain
the turbines performance at like new conditions for a prolonged period of time.
Another means of providing protection from the effects of damaging wet steam is the use of electroless nickel
plating. The application of electroless nickel can be performed on finished components with a rate of nickel deposit

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which is uniform regardless of the components geometry. This non-electrical, chemical plating process leaves an
excellent layer of surface corrosion protection typically only a few thousands of an inch thick which is suitable for
use on a wide variety of base materials. In addition, the process does not require any special surface preparation or
intricate plating fixtures. The nickel plated surface results in a hard and uniform surface layer which can provide
much longer flow path life for components in the wet steam operating sections of steam turbines.
Although the technology of hardened metal inserts for erosion resistance on rotating turbine blades has been used for
many years, it can be viewed as a potential upgrade for turbine stages which have shown a tendency to experience
erosion damage. Stellite and other hardened materials are often attached to blades in those areas most likely to
experience erosion damage from water droplet impingement. Initially the OEM may have used these hardened
materials at only the last one or two stages of the unit. If the operational history and experience of the turbine has
shown that erosion damage has repeatedly been found in other stages then it would be most beneficial to explore the
revision of that stage or stages to incorporate a similar erosion resistance insert as well.
Turbine steam path flow components, both the stationary nozzles and rotating blades can be enhanced by the
addition of various ceramic coatings to protect them from the detrimental effects of corrosion, erosion and chemical
deposition. There are specific coatings which create an anti-fouling surface finish to reduce the tendency of boiler
water treatment chemicals to deposit and adhere to flow path hardware. Figure 9 shows a typical ceramic coated
steam turbine rotor. Other coatings will provide a sacrificial layer for protection against erosion or corrosion to
provide extended operational life.
Another category of ceramic coatings will provide an improved surface finish to the machined surfaces of stationary
flow path components which has shown to have beneficial effects on the thermodynamic performance. This
particular coating can also be used as a repair coating to improve or restore stationary flow path component surface
finish to a limited degree. While the application of this coating for this purpose will not typically fully restore the
performance to like new condition, it may provide a marginal improvement and extend the service life of the
existing component until a replacement part or more extensive repair can be carried out.

Figure 9. Ceramic Coated Turbine Rotor

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Turbine Seal Upgrades

The reduction of steam leakage along the turbine shaft by means of advanced labyrinth seal designs improves
operating efficiency. Reducing the amount of steam that travels along the shaft and exits the case through the high
pressure gland seals provides additional steam flow through the units working steam path to generate additional
power. In a similar manner; reducing the amount of steam flow leakage along the shaft between turbine stages also
directs additional steam flow through the units stationary and rotating nozzles. Leakage steam flow across the
traditional labyrinth seal is reduced by the installation of a single or multiple rows of metallic bristles with
significantly less running clearance than labyrinth teeth to create what is referred to as a brush seal. These bristles
are installed at an angle tangential to the direction of shaft rotation making the seals directionally oriented. This
configuration allows for some flexibility of the angled bristles and therefore a tolerance to shaft rubs during start-up
and shutdown procedures. The reduced running clearance between the turbine shaft and brush portion of the seal
decreases the steam flow along the turbine shaft by as much as 70%-80%5. This reduction of interstage leakage flow
can result in up to 0.50% improvement in the efficiency of the upstream stage. The application of these brush seals
is typically done on the inner most, high pressure packing gland seals and higher pressure interstage seal locations.
While brush seals can be installed in low pressure interstage seal locations the benefit is minimal and therefore not
cost effective.
Another turbine seal upgrade available today is the retractable labyrinth seal. While this particular seal design
upgrade does not offer performance improvements by itself, it can provide a substantial improvement in seal life and
reliability. It can also be offered with a brush seal feature as well to provide a retractable brush seal which would
result in improved unit efficiency. The main feature of the retractable seal as the name implies is its ability to retract
or move its position during various phases of the turbines operational modes. Using springs installed between the
sections of the labyrinth rings and utilizing the steam pressure at that particular laby seal location, the seal is in an
open or increased clearance position when the steam pressure is not present; i.e. the turbine is shutdown. As the
steam pressure at the seal location increases, it overcomes the spring forces and closes the seal segments to a normal
running position and shaft clearance, see Figure 10. As previously stated this does not result in any performance
improvements but can greatly prolong laby seal life by maintaining proper design seal clearances. Newly installed
labyrinth seals are often damaged on the initial, post overhaul start-up if the unit experiences high vibration passing
through the critical speed range. Once damaged, the labyrinth seals will have increased running clearance and
increased steam leakage until they are once again replaced with new seals. Many older units have relatively high
vibrations through their critical speed range and therefore all of the efforts and cost associated with the installation
of new seals can be completely negated on the first post overhaul start. Retractable seals can maintain original
design labyrinth seal clearance for a much longer time period as the seals are in retracted or open position with
increased running clearances during the potential high vibration periods. When the brush seal insert is incorporated
with the retractable feature, a labyrinth seal with both increased operational life and improved turbine performance
can be provided, see Figure 11. As with brush seals, retractable labyrinth seals are not applicable for every seal
location but must be applied where a suitable steam pressure is available to overcome the spring forces and close the
seal to the normal operating position. Retractable seals also require good steam properties and cleanliness to
function properly as they can become bound or stuck in the open position with excessive running clearance due to
steam deposits. This situation will completely eliminate the beneficial effects of the retractable seal as the seal will
remain in the open or retracted position with excessive clearance and steam leakage flow.

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Figure 10. Retractable Laby Seal Pressure Profile(left) and Cross Section(right)

Figure 11. Retractable Seal Segment with a Brush Seal Insert

The individual stage steam pressure and temperatures must be fully understood along with the rotordynamic
properties of the rotor and bearing system to properly select and design these advanced seal types.
Journal and Thrust Bearing Upgrades
Many older steam turbines have less than ideal rotordynamic and bearing designs by todays standards which can
result in various types of vibration problems. These shortcomings can cause rotor vibration problems especially
during the unit start-up or shutdown process while passing through the shaft critical speed ranges. Some may also
experience operational speed vibration problems which may be associated with design deficiencies based upon
present standards or simply result from the wear and deterioration after many years of service. The majority of these
turbines have now been fully instrumented with various types of vibration and temperature sensors which provide
quantitative information on the detailed nature of the problem. Using vibration data along with modern
rotordynamic and bearing analysis software, there is the potential to improve the operational characteristics of the
unit to reduce vibration and improve operating reliability. It is highly advisable to pursue the design review of both
the units journal and thrust bearings in conjunction with any performance revamp or rerate to insure that the turbine

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performance modifications will not have any adverse effects on the rotordynamics system and particularly if the
turbine has a documented history of vibration problems.
Traditional sleeve bearings can be replaced with pressure dam bearings to create stabilizing hydrodynamic forces
within the bearing6. This type of bearing is often used to reduce or eliminate sub-synchronous(less than running
speed) vibration commonly known as oil whip or oil whirl. Sleeve bearings may also be replaced with a tilting pad
style bearing specifically designed for the critical rotor characteristics. Tilting pad bearings; see Figure 12 have a
number of design parameters which can be adjusted to optimize the operational characteristics of the rotor and
bearing system. These include the number of individual pads within the bearing, orientation of the rotor to the pads,
bearing running clearance, journal pad pivot offset and pad pre-load. Most tilting pad bearing designs today also
allow for some degree of axial misalignment of the bearing to the shaft. This feature can be utilized to eliminate the
spherically seated or self-aligning bearing mounting arrangement commonly found in a large number of older paper
mill steam turbines, see Figure 13. The spherical seats of turbine journal bearings can often be the source of
vibration problems and is an area which requires much attention during every unit overhaul, bearing inspection and
replacement. The conversion to a tilting pad journal bearing with axial alignment capability of the journal pads can
completely eliminate the need for a spherical mounting of turbine journal bearings. The existing spherical seat can
be replaced with another bearing mounting device or in most cases it is simply machined to a straight or cylindrical
bore for the installation of the tilting pad bearing. Steam turbines with highly sensitive critical speed range
vibrations have also been modified with a squeeze film damper type bearing which significantly reduces rotor
vibration while passing through the critical speed operating range during start-up and shutdown 7. This example
demonstrates that through careful design analysis and the application of todays rotor and bearing computer
modeling capabilities there exists the ability to modify older rotor and bearing designs with modern technology to
provide improved operational parameters and thereby a more reliably operating unit.

Figure 12. Tilting Pad Journal Bearing(Lufkin-RMT)

Figure 13. Typical Spherically Mounted

Journal Bearing

Steam turbine thrust bearings have also undergone significant design changes. Turbine performance modifications;
especially an increase of power production can increase thrust load. Thrust bearing analysis and design review must
be included as part of any turbine performance revamp. If there is a significant increase of load on the thrust bearing
the capacities of many older style thrust bearings may not be sufficient to carry the higher load. Simply making a
change to a larger, higher load capacity may not be possible given the physical constraints of the bearing housing.
Depending upon the original type of thrust bearing, there are optional designs and materials now available to
increase thrust bearing capacity within the physical dimensional limitation of the existing bearing housing. Many
turbines for these older generator drive applications have a very basic fixed geometry tapered land thrust bearing.
These can be upgraded to a self-equalizing or self-leveling type tilting pad thrust bearing where the load is
uniformly distributed between the thrust pads, see Figure 14. This provides higher thrust load capacity within the

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1101

original thrust bearing housing. Earlier tilting pad thrust bearings were often designed with centrally pivoted pads.
Upgrading these thrust bearings to offset pivots can significantly increase the thrust bearing load capacity.
Additional upgrades include use of high thermal conductivity material, such as chrome copper, for the
manufacturing of the individual thrust pads. The highest thrust load capability within a fixed dimensional space can
be achieved by revising the thrust bearing from a traditional flooded bearing design to one with a direct oil supply to
each of the individual thrust pads. One such design is referred to as leading edge feed groove, see Figure 15. The
implementation of the above features effectively decreases thrust pad operating temperatures, thereby allowing the
bearing to operate at higher thrust loads and speeds. A comparison of thrust bearing load capacities for the various
types of bearings is shown in Table 1. In summary, utilizing modern thrust bearing design features can provide the
additional thrust load capacity which will often result from a turbine performance upgrade.

Figure 14. Self-Equalizing, Tilting Pad Thrust Bearing(Lufkin-RMT)

Figure 15. Leading Edge Feed Groove Thrust Bearing(Kingsbury)

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Thrust Bearing Type

Typical, Maximum Load Capacity in PSI

Fixed geometry, tapered land


Non-equalizing tilting pad


Equalizing tilting pad with center pivot, steel pad


Equalizing tilting pad with offset pivot, steel pad


Equalizing tilting pad with offset pivot, chrome copper pad


Table 1. Thrust Bearing Load Capacity(Kingsbury)

Control System Upgrades

The most dramatic and extensive aspects of steam turbine upgrades can be seen in the area of turbine control
systems. The development of electronic and digital control devices has allowed for sweeping changes in the field of
steam turbine controls; from the detection or sensing of a specific operating parameter to the actuation devices
which move and position the various steam control valves. Mechanical and hydro-mechanical governors have
become nearly obsolete for steam turbine generators. They have been replaced with modern electronic governors
which sense and process all input and output parameters electronically within their defined internal circuitry. The
basic electronic speed control system today as shown in Figure 16 consists of a multi-toothed gear

Figure 16. Electronic Governor Control Diagram(Woodward)

or disc mounted on the turbine shaft and a number of speed sensors which detect the passing frequency of the
various teeth or notches on the rotating piece. These speed sensors send their signal to an electronic governor which
compares actual turbine speed to a preset or desired speed, then outputs another electronic signal to an actuation
device to move and position the steam valves to increase or decrease the turbines speed to the desired operating
speed. The use of multiple speed sensors can provide various levels of redundancy. Various control logic algorithms
can be performed in the event of a loss of one or more than one speed sensing signal. These electronic governors can
stand alone to control the turbine generator or they can be interfaced to work in conjunction with various other
systems such as a plant wide DCS control system within the mill, generator synchronization and load sharing system
or the steam distribution network. While todays DCS systems may be capable of managing the control of the
turbine within its own logic and control circuits, the critical control application of a steam turbine generator warrants
a separate, dedicated control device; the electronic governor, to be the primary turbine control device. These devices
have been designed and built specifically for this application with all of the required control logic, response time,
dedicated input and output circuits required for accurate steam turbine control. This is particularly important with

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1103

regards to a controlled admission or extraction turbine to maintain proper relationships between the inlet and
admission or extraction valves.
Electronic control upgrades have also been developed for the very critical turbine overspeed protection system to
initiate a turbine shutdown if the turbine speed reaches a potentially dangerous level. The mechanical overspeed
protection device used centrifugal force to activate a weight on the turbine shaft. Many older turbines with
mechanical overspeed protection devices are being retrofitted with these new electronic systems. These use the same
type of speed sensors as the electronic governor control system, but separate sensors dedicated solely to the
electronic overspeed protection system with 2 out of 3 voting logic. See Figure 17 for a schematic description of the
system. In the event that 2 of the 3 independent speed sensors detect a turbine shaft speed equal to or greater than the
overspeed set point, the electronic overspeed device initiates an output signal to close the trip valve. It can be
configured to work with various arrangements of redundant trip solenoid valves so that there are operational
back-ups. Another significant benefit of these systems is the ability to fully test the system without having to operate
the turbine to the actual overspeed trip speed. They can also be isolated and tested while the steam turbine remains
on line. A signal generator can be used to test the functionality of each of the 3 individual circuits. Some have the
capability to test and if required replace a defective trip module while the turbine remains operational 8 . These
electronic overspeed trip systems have been in use for several years now and have been readily accepted by
insurance carriers as well as steam turbine technical specification organizations. They are addressed in such
documents as API612 for steam turbines and API670 for machinery protection systems.

Figure 17. Electronic Overspeed Protection System(Woodward)

Elaborate mechanical and pneumatic systems used to sense various operating pressures and activate the turbine
steam control valves can be replaced with electronic sensors and electro-hydraulic actuators. These old mechanical
systems worked well when all components were new and within design tolerance. Over time as mechanical wear or
adverse effects from their surrounding operating environment took place the effectiveness of these systems
deteriorates. In addition, the availability of replacement parts and knowledgeable personnel to assemble, adjust and
repair these complicated mechanical systems has become very difficult to locate. Today, modern and reliable
pressure and temperature sensors can replace various mechanical type sensors. These devices generate an electrical
output signal readily suitable for input to various modules of the electronic governor or DCS systems. As with speed
sensing devices, these can be arranged in various redundant formats to insure that a sensor problem can be easily
managed by the controls system and the unit maintained in operation.

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1104

The final action of the turbine control system requires physical movement of the steam turbines inlet, extraction
and/or admission valves to direct flow into and out of the turbine case. This was accomplished by means of a
pneumatic or hydraulic oil system with relays, linkage, servos and a power cylinder or actuator directly connected to
the valve operating mechanism. Once again these older systems were assembled with numerous hydraulic relays,
pilot valves, linkage bars, pivot points, mechanical feedback linkage etc. all of which were subject to wear and
correspondingly the loss of their ability to control the turbine. Pneumatic actuators with direct I/P converters were an
early upgrade improvement over the original mechanical systems. Today there are electro-hydraulic devices which
will accept an electronic input signal directly from the electronic governor and stroke the hydraulic cylinder to
position the attached valves to their appropriate position. An integrated electro-hydraulic actuator and cylinder are
shown in Figure 18. The actuator position feedback is also done electronically within the actuator by means of
LVDT(Linear Variable Differential Transform) eliminating more of the old mechanical system. These electrohydraulic servos or cylinders can normally utilize the same hydraulic pressure as the original actuators with only
minor piping changes required.

Figure 18. Electro-hydraulic actuator and cylinder

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Steam turbine technology has experienced significant advancement over the past few decades. The pulp and paper
industry relies on steam turbine generators for the production of electrical power and the distribution of steam
throughout the mill. Many of these units have been in operation for a long period of time and their original design
parameters may no longer be applicable to the actual operating conditions of today. Given a thorough analysis of the
mills energy requirements and the available steam conditions for the turbine(s) many of these technological
improvements can be incorporated into existing steam turbines. The installation of these new and improved
technologies will have beneficial effects on the units power generation, performance efficiency, and operational
reliability as well as extending the service life of an aging piece of vital mill equipment.
The author is grateful for the contribution of Dresser-Rand for many of the photographs and graphical content of this
document. Also to Dariusz Ratajewski of Dresser-Rand for his review, comments and suggestions regarding the
content of this paper, to Ralph Nugent and Roy Reyna of Dresser-Rand for their contribution with regards to steam
turbine coatings. The author wishes to thank Dr. John Nicholas and Joe Hart of Lufkin-RMT for their comments and
graphic material with regards to bearing upgrades. The author also thanks Kelly Paffel of Swagelok Energy
Advisors for his contributions. Finally, thanks to the Woodward Governor Company and Kingsbury Bearing
Company for graphical materials.

Paffel, K., Steam System Training, Swagelok Energy Advisors. Inc. 2012

Paffel, K., Steam System Training, Swagelok Energy Advisors. Inc. 2012

Paffel, K., Steam System Training, Swagelok Energy Advisors. Inc. 2012

Jones, Otakar, PE, Control Erosion/Corrosion of Steels in Wet Steam, Power, March 1985

Block, Heinz P. and Singh, Murari P., Steam Turbines- Design, Applications and Re-Rating,
Second Edition, McGraw Hill 2009.

Nicholas, Dr. John C., Stabilizing Turbomachinery with Pressure Dam Bearings,
Rotating Machinery Technology, December, 1994. Published in the Encyclopedia of Fluid
Mechanics Volume 2, Dynamics of Single-Fluid Flows and Mixing, Gulf Publishing Co.

Edney, Dr. Stephen L. and Nicholas, Dr. John C. Retrofitting a Large Steam Turbine with
Mechanically Centered Squeeze Film Damper, September 1999. Proceedings from 28 th
Turbomachinery Symposium, Turbomachinery Laboratory, Texas A&M University.
Copyright 1999

Woodward, Protech GII Product Specification 03370, Rev D.

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1106



Timothy S
S. Hoyt
Regional Product Engineer
October 16, 2012

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1107

Mill Energy Audit
Cost of Steam Generation
Basic Steam Turbine Principles
g Conditions and
Steam Flow Path
Reliability Upgrades

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1108

Energy Requirements
met by Steam and
Actual Operating Conditions vs.
Original Design
Revise Steam Turbine Generator
Operating Parameters
Upgrade Turbine Generators with
Present Day Technology
2012 PEERS Conference Page 1109

Define Actual Boiler
Operating Parameters
Cyclic or Seasonal
ti Variations
V i ti
Establish Requirements
for all Steam
Define the Steam System
Define the Electrical System
2012 PEERS Conference Page 1110

Primarily Based on the
Cost of Fuel
Condensate Return and Feedwater
Make up Costs
Unloaded vs. Loaded Cost
Key Parameter for Cost Analysis

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1111


Power = Steam Flow x Energy

gy Drop
Turbine Power Modifications by:
Steam Flow Revisions
g the Energy
gy Drop
p ((Pressures or
Limitations Based on Original Turbine Design
and Materials

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1112

off Steam
T bi
Back Pressure or Non-Condensing
Vacuum or Condensing
g Through
Un-Controlled Extraction
Single Controlled Extraction
Double Controlled Extraction
Admission for Surplus Low Pressure Steam

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Modifications to Meet the Actual Mill

Operating Parameters are
Considered a Revamp or Rerate
Increased Flow = More Power
Increased Flow Requires More Area,
but may not Yield the Best Efficiency

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1114

Steam Flow Path Design for
the Actual Conditions
Better Efficiency = More Power
with the Same or Less Flow
Turbine Case Design Limits

Flow Velocities

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Flow Path
P h Design
D i Improvements
Yield Better Efficiency
High Efficiency

Current Standard
D i

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1116

Profiled End Walls

Improved Rotating
Ai f il D
2012 PEERS Conference Page 1117

Valve Size and Sequencing
g for
Maximum Power
5th Valve
4th Valve
3rd Valve
2nd Valve
1st Valve
to Open


2012 PEERS Conference Page 1118


Material Upgrades for Low Pressure or
Wet Steam Stages
Carbon Steel Upgrade to Chromium Steel
El t lless Ni
k l Pl
Hardened or Stellite Inserts
Ceramic Coatings

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1119


Ceramic Coatings for Various
Corrosion Protection
Erosion Resistance
Surface Finish Improvement

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Brush Seals with Reduced

Shaft Running Clearance
Reduce Leakage by 70%-80%
Improve Stage Efficiency up to 0.50%
0 50%

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1121

Brush Seals have Tangentially
Oriented Metallic Bristles


2012 PEERS Conference Page 1122

Retractable Seals have
Start-Up and Run
g Clearance for
Normal Clearance at Operating Conditions
Reliability Upgrade by Maintaining Normal
f Longer
R Ti

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1123

Retractable Seals use Springs between
the Individual Seal Segments
Springs hold the
Segments Apart at
Start Up
Steam Pressure
Overcomes the Spring
Forces to Close the

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1124


Retractable Seals
Use Internal Steam
Pressure to Change
the Seal Position
Steam Cleanliness is
Critical to Proper

Possible to Combine
with Brush Seals
for Improved

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1125

y Older Turbines
have Rotordynamics
Deficiencies by
Modern Standards
Now Instrumented with Vibration
Monitoring Equipment
Analysis and Modeling Software
R i
as P
Part off any R
2012 PEERS Conference Page 1126

Sleeve Bearings with Pressure Dam for
Greater Stability Reduced Vibration
Replacement for Standard
Sleeve Journal Bearings
Very Beneficial for
Oil Whip or Whirl
Improved Reliability

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1127

Self-Aligning or Spherically Seated
Journal Bearings Commonly Used
Common Source of Reliability
Require Special Attention at
O t
Spherical Fit or Contact
is Critical
Easily Replaced with a
Tilting Pad Journal Bearing

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Tilting Pad Journal Bearings
Designed for Specific Applications Based on
Detailed Analysis
V i bl Include
I l d
Number of Pads
Pad Orientation
Pivot Location
Clearance and Preload
Oil Supply Options

Axial Alignment Capability to Eliminate

Spherical Mounting
Reduced Vibration and Improved Reliability

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1129

Many Turbines have
Fixed Geometry
Tapered Land
Thrust Bearings
Thrust Bearing Design
Analysis Must be Part of the Revamp
Power Changes will Effect Thrust Load

Bearings Housings have Dimensional

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1130


Self Equalizing Thrust Bearings Evenly

Distribute the Load to All Pads
Additional Load Capacity by the Use of:
Offset Pivots
Chrome-Copper Pad Material
L di Edge
Ed Feed
F d Grooves

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Leading Edge Feed Groove Directs
Cool Inlet Supply Oil to the
g Edge
g of
each Individual
Thrust Pad

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Thrust Bearing Load Capacity
Thrust Bearing Type

Maximum Load, PSI

Fixed Geometry Tapered Land


Non-Equalizing Tilting Pad(TP)


Equalizing TP w/Center Pivot,

Steel Pads


li i TP w/Offset
/Off t Pi
Steel Pad


Equalizing TP w/Offset Pivot

Chrome-Copper Pad


2012 PEERS Conference Page 1133

Electronics Technology
has had a Significant
Impact on Turbine Controls
Mechanical Controls have been
Replaced with Electronics
Elaborate Mechanical Devices are
Nearly Obsolete
Results = Improved Reliability
2012 PEERS Conference Page 1134

Electronic Governors for Speed
Speed, Load
and Process Controls
Greater Versatility and Capabilities
Easily Interfaced with Other Control
Systems such as a DCS
di t d Electronic
El t
i Governors
Recommended for Extraction and
Admission Turbines

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1135

Mechanical Overspeed Trip Protection
Replaced with Electronic Systems
2 Out
O t off 3 Voting
V ti S
iis T
i l
Various Systems of Redundant Sensors and
Trip Solenoids
Readily Accepted by Insurance Carriers
Guidelines Covered by API 612 and 670
Improves Reliability and Testing Capabilities

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1136

Typical Electronic Overspeed System

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Direct Connected Electro-Hydraulic
Electro Hydraulic
No Mechanical Linkage
Improved Reliability with
M i and
Wearing Components
Internal Electronic Feedback
Use Existing Hydraulics

2012 PEERS Conference Page 1138

Define Actual Steam System Parameters
Determine the Cost of Steam
y Steam Turbine Design
g and Internal
New Turbine Design
g with the
Actual Operating Conditions
co po ate Flow
o Path
at Improvements
p o e e ts for
Efficiency Gains
Review Potential Upgrades for Improved
2012 PEERS Conference Page 1139