Over the past couple of years, energy storage technology has significantly evolved to meet engineering demand and political regulations. This wasn’t initially looked as a desirable investment due to the high production cost, however over time, exploration of such technology by bigger companies has driven down the manufacturing cost and generated more demand. With occurrences such as rapid capital raise of smaller start-up companies, to the acquisition of Solar City by Tesla, the market of energy storage is predicted to continue growing. The technology allows for collection of energy produced to be used at a later time. Energy storage systems have wide technology variation to manage power supply – from thermal, compressed air to everyday batteries.
Molten Salt Usage
The usage of molten salt in thermal energy storage applications has become more common. In commercial solar energy storage, molten salt (from potassium nitrate, lithium nitrate and more) is used in conjunction with concentrated solar energy for power generation. Molten salts are able to absorb and keep heat energy transferred from the fluid mediator, then to transfer it again when it’s needed. In the liquid state, molten salt has a similar state to water. It also has the capacity to retain temperatures of 1000 Fahrenheit. Though efficiency is known to be lower than other storage media such as batteries, (70% vs 90%), the main advantage of the usage of molten salt is lower costs which allows the technology to be implemented in a higher volume production.
How Molten Salt Energy Storage Works
Using solar energy as the main source of energy, heliostats (mirrors used to track sun/solar heat) are used to reflect the solar radiation into an energy receiver at the power plant. Molten salt then is used to collect this heat energy from the concentrated pool. The molten salt will later be stored. When power is needed, hot molten salt is transferred to a HX (or steam generator) to produce steam at a high pressure and temperature. The steam then will be used for electricity generation as the live steam in a conventional steam power plant. After exiting the generator, molten salt will then be transferred back to the thermal storage tank to again absorb energy.
The integrally geared compressor, also known as a multi-shaft compressor, is a technology that has been around since the 1960s, but remains underdeveloped. Usually seen in applications in the industrial gases industry, integrally geared compressors (IGCs) can range in size from small product machines to steam turbine driven high-horsepower, high-flow compressors for air separation plants. These compressors modular construction principle, consisting of as many as eight different stages, allows for implementation in a large number of varied customer processes. The main advantages of IGCs in the industrial gases industry is the compact design and smaller installation footprint, efficiency increases due to the use of multiple speeds for separate impellers, and overall lower operational and installation costs.
One of the key design differences between the standard inline compressors and the IGCs is that the integrally geared compressor makes use of both closed AND semi-open impellers. The reason for the use of open impellers in IGCs are the higher strengths due to better manufacturing techniques, speed of manufacture, and the inherent lower costs. However, the main drawback to having an open impeller in your system is that in the event of impeller rub, the damage to the compressor would be significantly worse than with a closed impeller.
When designing rotating equipment, it is extremely important to take into account the types of unbalance that can occur. Forgetting this step can result in vibrations that lead to damage of the rotating parts, increasing maintenance costs and lowering efficiency. Currently, if a rotating part already vibrates or makes any noises, maintenance engineers rely on OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or third parties services companies to conduct balancing services.
Types of Unbalances
The three types of unbalances to consider are static, couple and dynamic. Static unbalance (Figure 1) occurs when a mass at a certain radius from the axis of rotation causes a shift in the inertia axis. Couple unbalance, usually found in cylindrical shapes, occurs when two equal masses positioned at 180 degrees from each other cause a shift in the inertia axis, leading to vibration effects on the bearings. Lastly and most common, dynamic unbalance occurs when you have a combination of both static and couple unbalance.
What is the importance of turbulence modelling in capturing accurate 3D secondary flow and mixing losses in turbomachinery? An investigation on the effect of return channel (RCH) dimensions of a centrifugal compressor stage on the aerodynamic performance was studied to answer this question by A. Hildebrandt and F. Schilling as an effort to push turbomachinery one step further.
W. Fister was among the first to investigate the return channel flow using 3D-CFD. At that time the capability of commercial software was not extended and any computational effort was limited by the CPU-capacity. Therefore, only simplified calculations that included constant density without a turbulence model (based on the Prandtl mixing length hypothesis) embedded in in-house code, were performed.
One of the main setbacks in scaling different turbochargers for diesel, petrol, and gas engines is the inherit variability that different turbochargers would exhibit at low or high RPMs. In order to understand this further, a common term used to describe a flow characteristic of these machines is the A/R ratio. Technically, this ratio is defined as the inlet cross-sectional area divided by the radius from the turbo center to the centroid of that area (Figure 1). This ratio is essentially a metric for the amount of air that is allowed into the turbine section of the turbocharger.
For smaller turbochargers, lower A/R ratios allow the fast exhaust velocities to drive the turbine at lower speeds. This results in a more responsive engine and overall higher boosts at lower RPMs. However, once a vehicle starts to navigate at a higher RPM, smaller turbochargers experience a significant reduction in performance due to the high backpressure present in the system. This occurs because of the low A/R ratio limits the flow capacity and does not allow a sufficient amount of air to feed into the turbine. The same effect is present for larger turbochargers, only in reverse. They will perform most efficiently at higher RPMs, but in turn exhibit a significant reduction in performance at lower RPMs.
In order to overcome this phenomenon, many engineers have developed more complex turbocharger systems over the years, which attempt to leverage the benefits of each type of turbo. One of the first solutions to this dilemma was the twin turbo: simply comprised of two separate turbochargers operating in the system in parallel or in series. The problem with this system is that it disproportionately increases the cost, complexity, and space necessary for implementation.
To increase the overall performance of the engine and reduce the specific fuel consumption, modern gas turbines operate at very high temperatures. However, the high temperature level of the cycle is limited by the melting point of the materials. Therefore, turbine blade cooling is necessary to reduce the blade metal temperature to increasing the thermal capability of the engine. Due to the contribution and development of turbine cooling systems, the turbine inlet temperature has doubled over the last 60 years.
The cooling flow has a significant effect on the efficiency of the gas turbine. It has been found that the thermal efficiency of the cooled gas turbine is less than the uncooled gas turbine for the same input conditions (see figure 1). The reason for this is that the temperature at the inlet of turbine is decreased due to cooling and therefore, work produced by the turbine is slightly decreased. It is also known that the power consumption of the cool inlet air is of considerable concern since it decreases the net power output of the gas turbine.
With this in mind, during the design phase of gas turbine it is very important to optimize the cooling flow if you are considering both the performance and reliability. Cooled Gas turbine design is quite complicated and requires not only the right methodology, but also the most appropriate design tools, powerful enough to predict the results accurately from thermodynamics cycle to aerothermal design, ultimately generating the 3D blade.
Turbomachinery can be divided into two main groups. Group one consists of machines that perform work on the fluid, requiring energy and increasing its pressure, such as compressors, pumps, and fans. Group two consists of those that extracts energy from the fluid flowing through it – for example, wind, hydro, steam, and gas turbines.
Pumps specifically are devices whose purpose is to move fluid at a constant density, increasing its kinetic energy and its pressure while consuming energy in the process. We are quite used to seeing centrifugal and axial pumps, as they are the most common configurations. However, more exotic designs have been tested and developed throughout the history of fluid machinery.
Rotordynamics, the study of vibrational energy in rotors, has a rich history dating back to North America during the 1750’s. This branch of applied mechanics began with theories, but advanced quickly due to practices – starting with Mr. W.J.M Rankine in 1869 and his spinning shaft experiment. Now, decades later, we have strengthened our understanding of rotordynamics and created leading software tools, including AxSTREAM, that are able to simulate analyses to stabilize and increase the reliability of a turbomachinery.
Not only was W.J.M Rankine a prestigious theoretical scientist and educator, he was a main contributor in the development of rotordynamics and he contributed to thermodynamics and the development of heat engines throughout his lifetime. During his spinning shaft experiment, he concluded that beyond the shaft’s first critical speed, the shaft would be unstable simply because its shape had been bent. By not taking into consideration support damping and Coriolis force in his analysis, many engineers were left confused for almost two centuries, until Gustaf de Laval, a Swedish engineer, ran a steam turbine to supercritical speeds in the late 1880’s. Laval also introduced the use of bearings to oppose absolute motion in his machinery. As the years went by, many other engineers discovered and investigated additional phenomenons (FEM for example) that have an influence in today’s practices.
It is because of these previous innovators that companies like SoftInWay have been able to develop the advanced rotodynamics modules that we use today.
A geothermal heat pump utilizes earth’s thermal energy as a way to manipulate temperature. This is seemingly attractive toward HVAC utilization due to the relatively high efficiency as well as economic benefit. Temperature fluctuations below ground are relatively low as earth absorbs solar energy all year round and insulates the heat underground. Taking advantage of this event, geothermal energy heat pump application for residential and commercial building uses the “underground” as a heat source/sink.
How does geothermal heat pump work?
A heat pump system mainly consists of a heat-pump unit, a pipeline loop functioning as a heat exchanger for a desired area (it can be horizontal, vertical or installed to an aquatic medium), and a duct – to deliver the controlled temperature flow to the consumer.
Fluid is pumped through an installed pipeline loop which transfers heat based on the season. During the hotter season (summer), heat will be absorbed from the air in the building, transferred into the ground and then cooler air will be circulated to the designated area. The contrary happens during the winter. In colder months, heat will be transferred into the fluid from the ground and collected heat will be distributed.
As turbomachinery technology continues to advance in efficiency as well as overall power, many engineers want an estimate on how long these manufactured machines will operate. Specifically, in high-temperature and high-flow turbomachinery applications, one of the main sources of performance degradation can be attributed to increases in surface roughness. Gas turbine and compressor blades in particular experience a substantial amount of surface degradation over their lifetime.
There are many mechanisms that contribute to surface degradation in airfoils and annulus surfaces. Foreign particles adhering to the material surface (or fouling) is generally caused by any increase in contaminants such as oils, salts, carbon, and dirt in the airflow. Corrosion occurs when there is a chemical reaction between the material surface and the environment that causes further imperfections on the machine surfaces. Additional mechanical factors such as erosion and abrasion will play a part in a machine’s surface degradation as well.