Steam power plants supply 57% of total power demand in India. Coal is the major source of energy in these power plants. The conversion efficiency from coal to electricity in steam power plants is low and combustion of coal has a heavy negative impact on the environment. Efficiency enhancement of coal to electric power generation is a major challenge against steam power plants. Thus, inefficient use of coal not only wastes resources but also creates environmental pollution issues such as CO₂, SO₂ and NOx emissions.
The energy conservation study is focused on energy efficiency. To analyze energy utilization, the first law of thermodynamics is used. Exergy is the consequence of the second law of thermodynamics. It is a property that enables us to determine the useful work potential in a given amount of energy at a reference environmental state. A thorough understanding of exergy can provide insights into the efficiency, environmental impact, and sustainability of energy systems. Cogeneration turbine systems which produce heat at useful temperatures at the expense of reduced electrical power, have higher efficiencies than conventional steam turbine systems. The merit of cogeneration systems can be determined with the help of energy analysis.
In steam turbines, steam is first expanded from inlet pressure to extraction pressure in seven stages. The extracted high-pressure and exhausted low-pressure steam is used in different industrial processes. The remaining steam expands up to exhaust pressure. The steam turbine system is usually analyzed by energy analysis which uses first-law analysis. A better understanding is attained when a more complete thermodynamic view is taken, which utilizes the second law of thermodynamics in conjunction with energy analysis.
Energy Analysis in Action
Now that we have a basic understanding of the components involved, let’s see how energy analysis helps optimize the system:
- Efficiency Calculation: The foundation of energy analysis is efficiency. By comparing the useful energy output (electricity) to the total energy input (incoming steam energy), engineers can gauge how effectively the turbine converts steam energy into electricity.
- Heat Losses: Energy losses within the system must be quantified. These can include losses in the generator, turbine seals, and heat radiation. Subtracting these losses from the total energy input yields the net useful output.
- Extraction Efficiency: It’s not just about power generation, it’s also about efficiently utilizing the extracted steam for industrial processes. Energy analysis helps calculate the extraction efficiency, ensuring that energy is effectively harnessed for these purposes.
- Environmental Impact: Beyond efficiency, energy analysis also considers environmental factors. Calculations can include estimating emissions associated with fuel combustion, if applicable. This information is vital for evaluating the environmental footprint of the system.
Extraction cum back-pressure steam turbines are workhorses in many industries. They are designed to generate electricity while simultaneously extracting steam at various pressure levels for industrial processes. This dual-purpose operation makes them indispensable in scenarios where both power and heat are needed.
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