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GE Power Systems

Steam Turbine

J. F. Lesiuk
GE Power Systems
Atlanta, GA
Steam Turbine Uprates


Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Dense Pack Section Replacement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
High Efficiency Steam Path . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Sustained Heat Rate and Solid Particle Erosion (SPE) Resistance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Acknowledgement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
References. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
List of Figures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

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Steam Turbine Uprates

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Steam Turbine Uprates

Summary features achieve additional improvement in effi-

The thermodynamic performance of a steam
turbine is primarily determined by the steam As a natural progression from the ADSP experi-
path components. Because the efficiency of the ence, GE introduced the “Dense Pack” redesign
entire power plant cycle is largely dependent on approach to achieve additional section efficien-
the efficiency of the energy conversion in the cy improvement.
turbine, it is important to minimize aerody-
namic and steam leakage losses in the steam Background
path. During the mid-1980s and early 1990s the prin-
Nozzle and bucket aerodynamic-profile losses, ciple reason for making steam turbine uprate
secondary-flow losses, and leakage losses decisions was the aging of power plants, (see
account for roughly 80-to-90 percent of the total Figure 1), and the attendant poorer reliability of
stage losses. In order to ensure high-efficiency older equipment, as shown in Figure 2.
turbine designs without sacrificing turbine reli-
ability, it is necessary to use both highly-efficient 35

nozzle and bucket designs to minimize profile 30

and secondary losses, and advanced clearance 25

Percent of Capacity

controls to minimize leakage flows. 20

GE’s development effort has been underway for 15

more than a decade in order to reduce these

losses. The objective of this long-term program
is to develop specific design features for both
new turbines and retrofits of existing units that 0
1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000
maximize overall turbine efficiency and main- Year

tain a high degree of reliability and cost effec-

Figure 1. Utility dependence upon units greater
tiveness. The development program has includ-
than 30 years old
ed activities conducted for all of the steam tur-
bine product lines in cooperation with other
company components such as Aircraft Engines, Utilities evaluated their aging fleet and con-
Gas Turbine, and Corporate Research & cluded it was more economical to extend the
Development. The result of this development life of the equipment than to retire the unit.
effort was the introduction of the Advanced This resulted in turbine life extension evalua-
Design Steam Path, ADSP, in 1995. tions to identify equipment that needed repair
or replacement in order to operate beyond the
Since 1995, GE has installed over 40 first- and
generally-accepted design life of 40 years.
second-generation ADSP retrofits on a variety of
units. Field test data from these units has indi- Talk of deregulation of the power industry dur-
cated steam path efficiency improvements rang- ing the mid-1990s created considerable uncer-
ing from 1.5 percent to 3.0 percent. Along with tainty among the utilities. Decisions regarding
this, GE has been developing new NPI features, the sale of generating and/or transmission and
such as enhanced advanced-vortex designs, distribution assets were analyzed. One clear
integral cover buckets, and brush seals. These conclusion from the deregulation discussions

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Steam Turbine Uprates

electricity with additional capacity would be the

victor in the new, unregulated market.

Today, in addition to addressing the aging fleet

Rate (%)

issue, utilities are looking for the competitive
edge that additional capacity and better per-

4 formance will provide. Other factors that enter

into the economic model are the desire for sus-

tained performance with minimal degradation
0 over period of at least ten years and the desire
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50

Age in Years
to extend time between major overhauls to at
least ten years. The balance of the paper dis-
Figure 2. Typical aging reliability trend cusses the technologies and product solutions
developed to address these utility needs.
was that the utilities were going to be in an
extremely competitive environment in the
Dense Pack Section Replacement
The Dense Pack turbine section performance,
The initial reaction to deregulation within the
as shown in Figure 3, is the latest evolution of GE
utility industry was to take a “wait and see” posi-
steam design that began in 1903 with a 5000 kW
tion. As decisions regarding the retention or
turbine. The design limits, operational experi-
selling of assets were made, new drivers in the
ence, and rugged dependability synonymous
cost model developed. Evaluations for replace-
with GE turbine design is not changed with a
ment power during peak periods soared and it
Dense Pack.
became clear that additional capacity and
improved efficiency were the principle objec- The design goal of a Dense Pack retrofit is to
tives for the future. The low cost producer of put the most efficient steam path into an exist-

HP Steam Path Efficiency - %









1960’s 1970’s 1980’s 1990’s Late 1990’s 2000’s 2000’s
Free-vortex Improved Step RTSS, AV1, RTSS AV2, ICBs Dense Pack Dense Pack
design Vane profiles SPE, CV stgs adv opt. clearance w/adv Sealing

Figure 3. Efficiency evolution of a single HP stage

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Steam Turbine Uprates

ing high-pressure outer shell. The high efficien- installed onto the existing steam turbine rotor
cy steam path will produce a lower heat rate and and inner shell. This limited the designers’
increased output for the same steam flow. In flexibility because the number of turbine stages
designing the most efficient steam path, two and rotor diameters was fixed.
interesting by-products also resulted. The
With more than 40 ADSP packages currently in
design parameters utilized to increase efficien-
operation, the ADSP program provided a good
cy, such as bucket and nozzle solidity and
experience base for the Dense Pack. ADSP
reduced rotor diameters, also had the benefit of
incorporates some of the features to be includ-
reducing solid particle erosion. This led to a
ed in Dense Pack such as steam flow manage-
steam path that not only is more efficient but
ment, optimized packing clearances, and
also has a greater, sustained efficiency. Coupled
advanced shaft sealing. Pending deregulation
with the supply of a solid rotor (elimination of
and decreasing reserve margin have driven the
the rotor bore), the sustained efficiency results
utility marketplace to seek ever more aggressive
in a turbine section that should not require
methods of lowering bus bar cost and increas-
internal repair or inspection for ten or more
ing capacity. Armed with the experience gained
years. These complementary, interacting bene-
from the ADSP program, improved turbine
fits produce additional megawatts at a lower life-
design and modeling tools, shared technology
cycle cost.
from GE’s aircraft engine and gas turbine prod-
High Efficiency Steam Path uct lines, and customer desire for steam path
In the early 1990s, GE produced an Advanced enhancements, the Dense Pack team was
Vortex bucket and diaphragm retrofit known as formed.
Advanced Design Steam Path (ADSP), Figure 4. The Dense Pack team began by reviewing the
Although ADSP remains a cost-effective effi- turbine to determine where to focus design
ciency retrofit, the potential efficiency benefit efforts to improve efficiency. Figure 5 is a Pareto
of ADSP is limited because the retrofit is chart of unrecoverable turbine losses by turbine

Advanced aero buckets All stages, with advanced bucket tip sealing
Advanced aero partitions All diaphragms
Additional Diffusion coated 1st stage nozzle with SPE
Profile Partition
Diamond Tuff™ HVOF coating (stage 1
buckets, 1st reheat diaphragm,1 st
reheat buckets)

Figure 4. Advanced design steam path

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Typical 700 MW unit

irreversibility, % inlet availability

2.5 HP section






IP exhaust
feedwater heaters

HP exhaust
cross over
Heat rejection

IP inlet
reheat cycle

HP inlet

piping losses
LP exhaust
IP turbine
condensor losses

feed pumps
LP turbine


LP inlet
HP turbine

Figure 5. Efficiency loss by system

section. Unrecoverable losses are essentially more controlled, and more efficient incre-
inefficient use of the steam energy. A review of ments. Reducing the stage root diameter results
the Pareto chart shows that except for the heat in increased bucket and nozzle partition
losses of the condenser, the HP and IP turbine heights. Secondary losses decrease as the parti-
sections have the greatest amount of irre- tion height increases. In addition, reducing the
versibility. rotor diameter results in a reduction in shaft
sealing leakage area, further improving effi-
The efficiency upgrade focused on HP and IP
ciency. The smaller steam path diameter also
sections and attacked the tip leakage and steam
results in lower steam velocity and reduces the
path secondary and profile losses.
effect of any solid particle carryover.
The Dense Pack team drew on cross-functional The steam path design incorporates reduced
GE engineering resources from steam and gas solidity concepts or less buckets and nozzles per
turbine design, Aircraft Engines, and Corporate row. The reduction in steam velocity coupled
Research and Development (CRD). Their with fewer partitions results in lower profile loss-
objective was to design the most efficient steam es per stage. Typical efficiency gains vs. sources
path that could be installed into an existing of irreversible losses for a conventional and
outer shell that included incorporating addi- Dense Pack steam path are shown on Figure 6.
tional staging into the turbine section. Hence,
The first step in the steam path redesign is to
the name “Dense Pack,” for additional staging
establish the mechanical constraints. The min-
in the same axial spacing.
imum rotor diameters are determined through
Given the latitude of supplying a new steam tur- an analysis of the torsional stress requirements
bine rotor and inner shell, the team capitalized and a rotor dynamics investigation including a
on adding staging and reducing the rotor stage rigorous review of rotor stability. Once the min-
diameter. Both of these concepts result in an imum rotor packing diameters are determined,
inherently more efficient steam path. By adding the minimum steam path diameter can be
stages, the energy may be extracted in smaller, established from the known radial height

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Specific Irreversibility, BTU/lbm

dense pack

C.S. Nozzle Profile

Notch Block Loss

inlet /bridge

C.S. Root Leakage

C.S. Bucket Secondary

Bucket Secondary

Bucket Trailing Edge

Windage Loss
C.S. Nozzle Secondary

C.S. Nozzle Trailing Edge

CS. Notch Block

leakage and mixing

Nozzle Secondary

Bucket Profile

Packing Leakage
turnaround duct

Nozzle Trailing Edge

C.S. Bucket Profile

C.S. Tip Leakage

Nozzle Profile
C.S. Packing Leakage
C.S. Bucket Trailing Edge

C.S. Windage

Tip Leakage

Root Leakage
C.S. End
Figure 6. Typical loss mechanism comparison

requirements for the various bucket attach- stage number and bucket reaction levels for
ments available to the turbine designer. This each steam path. Figure 7 shows a typical opti-
allows the steam path optimization to proceed. mization contour plot of stage count vs. stage
GE has always utilized some reaction levels in root reaction. Additional parameters are com-
the design of high-pressure steam turbine buck- pared in order to arrive at the optimum value
ets. Building on ADSP experience, the Dense for the key parameters that define the Dense
Pack increases the bucket reaction to approxi- Pack steam path.
mately 20-25 percent. Modern design and mod- Figure 8 shows the results of the Dense Pack opti-
eling tools allow the computational iterations mization approach as applied to the redesign of
necessary to individually optimize both the a single-flow, high-pressure section. The base-

Increasing Eff’y

Root Reaction



5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Number of Stages

Figure 7. Optimization contour plot

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Double flow
Double flow

66 stages

Dense Pack
Single flow

Adv seals More stages

Longer buckets
Integral covers

Single flow control stage

Smaller rotor and wheel diameters

Figure 8. Dense Pack redesign of a single-flow high-pressure section

line design employed a 6-stage section with a zle diaphragm, depending on unit size and
double-flow first stage. By lowering the steam number of control-stage admissions.
path diameters and increasing the stage reac-
Figure 9 is a photograph of an 11-stage, single-
tion, a more efficient 14-stage steam path
flow high-pressure rotor that was redesigned
results. The major components affected by this
from a baseline configuration of 7 stages includ-
redesign include replacement of the bucketed
ing a double-flow first stage.
rotor, diaphragms, inner shell, and end packing
heads. In addition, the original double-flow, Once the high efficiency steam path is funda-
first-stage nozzle box is replaced with either a mentally designed for the number of stages, has
single-flow nozzle box, a nozzle plate, or a noz- solidity and has sufficient rotor root diameter,

Figure 9. Dense Pack redesign of a single-flow high-pressure rotor

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then design engineering adds sealing features Sustained Heat Rate and Solid Particle
such as optimized packing clearances, integral Erosion (SPE) Resistance
covered buckets, and advanced tip sealing (See
Another GE design objective with the Dense
Figure 10). Bimetallic seal rings complete the
Pack redesign was to supply a steam path that
offering and maximize steam efficiency.
would be resistant to SPE degradation. In the

Buckets IntegralCovered
Integral Covered Buckets
Buckets w/Adv
w/Adv Sealin g

Dense Pack
Dense Diaphragms
Pack Diaphragms

Figure 10. Dense Pack features

The Dense Pack design approach has been ver- 1980s GE performed extensive computer mod-
ified through a rigorous Six Sigma Design of eling and analysis of solid particle trajectories in
Experiment process in GE’s Steam Turbine Test the steam path. The comprehensive develop-
Vehicle (STTV) located in Lynn, Massachusetts. ment effort resulted in the following:
This state-of-the-art test facility was completed ■ A fundamental understanding of the
in 1999 and the first test was completed in April erosion mechanism in the steam
of that year. The STTV is a fully-instrumented, turbine steam path.
multi-stage test turbine using high-pressure
■ Development of plasma spray and
steam. The initial test in April of 1999 was to
diffusion coatings that significantly
establish a baseline representing the installed
enhanced the SPE resistance of the
fleet designs. This was followed by a series of
steam path.
tests using the Dense Pack design approach
applied to the same steam conditions. Figure11 ■ A combination of design changes
shows the test facility and Figure 12 shows the identified by the trajectory analysis
test rotors for the baseline and one of the Dense and SPE-resistant coatings that led to
Pack tests. minimizing particle carryover damage.

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Figure 11. Steam Turbine Test Vehicle

Figure 12. Baseline and Dense Pack test rotors

These design changes included increased axial particle erosion. Clearly, the model and the GE
clearance between the stationary nozzles and analysis were on target. The high-efficiency
rotating buckets for the reheat section, steam path of the Dense Pack will virtually elim-
increased nozzle scale factor for all stages, and inate solid particle erosion. Figure 13 depicts the
redesigned nozzle profiles that allow smoother solid particle erosion of a conventional steam
and less damaging passage of solid particles path nozzle partition. The severity of the ero-
through the steam path. sion varies from zero, shown in blue, to the
The study resulted in the redesign of the high- highest shown in red.
pressure nozzle partitions to distribute the solid Figure 14 shows the benefits of the reduced noz-
particle impact over a broader area of the parti- zle count, lower solidity, and the redesigned
tion. Customer experience indicated a 75% nozzle partition. These features (lower nozzle
reduction in the degradation attributed to solid and bucket solidity, redesigned partitions,

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Figure 13. Solid particle erosion on conventional steam path

Figure 14. Solid particle erosion on Dense Pack steam path

reduced steam velocities, and solid coatings) Conclusions

yield a steam path that is more resistant to solid
The Dense Pack section replacement is the lat-
particle carryover. This will allow units to be
est option in GE’s long history of steam path
operating for longer periods between major
efficiency improvements. Incorporating tech-
overhauls because the rate of performance
nologies from gas turbine, Aircraft Engines,
degradation will be significantly reduced, if not
and Corporate Research and Development, the
virtually eliminated.

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Dense Pack provides an alternative to the proven solid particle erosion protection features,
Advanced Design Steam Path design. The Dense address a utility concern of sustained perform-
Pack alternative supplies the user with a ance. The resultant damage to the steam path
redesigned steam path including a new bucketed from particle carryover is virtually eliminated,
rotor, diaphragms, and inner shell. The increase enabling utilities to extend the time between
in output and the reduction in heat rate address major overhauls and reduce life-cycle costs.
the two major competitive issues facing the utili-
ty industry today. Acknowledgement
The inherent features of Dense Pack, including a The author wishes to acknowledge the contribu-
lower solidity design steam path, and fewer noz- tions of the Dense Pack team led by James
zles and buckets per row, combined with GE’s Maughan.

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1. J.I. Cofer, IV, J.K. Reinker, W.J. Sumner, “Advances in Steam Path Technology,” GE Power Systems
Paper, GER-3713.
2. R.S. Couchman, K.E. Robbins, P. Schofield, “GE Steam Turbine Design Philosophy and
Technology Programs,” GE Power Systems Paper, GER-3705.
3. M.F. O’Conner, “Upgrade Opportunities for Steam Turbines,” GE Power Systems Paper, GER-

List of Figures
Figure 1. Utility dependence upon units greater than 30 years old
Figure 2. Typical aging reliability trent
Figure 3. Efficiency evolution of a single HP stage
Figure 4. Advanced design steam path
Figure 5. Efficiency loss by system
Figure 6. Typical loss mechanism comparison
Figure 7. Optimization contour plot
Figure 8. Dense Pack redesign of a single-flow high-pressure section
Figure 9. Dense Pack redesign of a single-flow high-pressure rotor
Figure 10. Dense Pack features
Figure 11. Steam Turbine Test Vehicle
Figure 12. Baseline and Dense Pack test rotors
Figure 13. Solid particle erosion on conventional steam path
Figure 14. Solid particle erosion on Dense Pack steam path

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