Release of New Economic Module at Power-Gen 2015

Will we see you at POWER-GEN 2015?
POWER-GEN International 2015 is only one month away! We are finalizing plans for our trip to Las Vegas, where we will be exhibiting and demonstrating our latest company developments.

SoftInWay has had several major recent developments that we will be featuring at the conference. Here are a few:

  • We will be releasing our newest module DURING Power-Gen! This new AxCYCLE economic module provides power plant equipment cost estimation as well as investment analysis of plant construction. The module features opportunities for user-defined data use, the incorporation of the user’s models for equipment cost estimation, and comparisons of cash flow charts with alternative projects. It will be a key tool for turbomachinery industry decision-makers, who must not only consider machine efficiency, but also the price of construction, redesign, or component replacement. The module will be launched and demonstrated at the conference.
  • In September we released three new modules: AxSTREAM Bearing, Rotor Design, and RotorDynamics. These modules allow for the design of turbomachinery rotors and bearings, and for rotor dynamic analysis.

Come to booth 1014 to learn more about these, and other, developments.  Or stop in for a short demonstration of our software. Would you like to schedule an in-depth meeting with our team during the conference? Email us at info@softinway.com.

What Turbomachinery does to Avert Climate Change (Part 1 of 2)

Most people complain about climate change, but few take measures to address it. In this article we will see some ways turbomachinery-oriented companies contribute to the well-being of the planet.

  1. Selection and optimization of energy conversion technology (recuperation, proper selection of expander configuration, etc.)

Not all technologies are created equal; where you would use a steam turbine is not necessarily where you would want a gas turbine or an organic Rankine cycle (ORC) instead. Each one of them has its pros and its cons; ORC exist because they do not require as much energy as what is needed for steam cycles, gas turbines have a great power density and an outstanding start-up time (several minutes instead of hours) which makes them great candidates for punctual, unexpected peaks in power demand, etc.

Figure 1 Simple Rankine cycle schematics
Figure 1 Simple Rankine cycle schematics

Now, take the case of a gas, steam or ORC; they all include, in their most basic configuration, a compressing element (compressor or pump), an expander (usually a turbine), a cooling/condensing component and a heating component (boiler, combustion chamber, HRSG, etc.) as one can see on Figure 1 and each of these have an associated efficiency.

This means that their careful design and thorough optimization should be performed in order to maximize the overall performance of the full system. Whether it’s used for power generation or propulsion the result is the same; more power generated for the same amount of heat input (usually the combustion of fuel). However, before starting the full design of the different components the entire system needs to be optimized as well; correct positioning of extractions/inductions, appropriate cooling parameters, use of recuperation/regeneration (see Figure 6), and so on.

Figure 2 Recuperated Rankine cycle
Figure 2 Recuperated Rankine cycle

 

Only when the cycle boundary conditions (and therefore its configuration) are fixed the full design of the components can be performed although some preliminary studies should be undertaken to determine the feasibility of these designs and get an estimation of the components performances. Another goal of such feasibility studies is to determine such things as the estimated dimensions of the components, the configuration of the expander (axial, radial, axi-radial, counter-rotating, etc.) Finally some compromises always need to be done between efficiency improvement and cost of manufacturing, operation and maintenance.

 

 

 

  1. Operation at optimal conditions (design point for overall cycle and each component)
Figure 3 Comparison of efficiency and power rating for axial and radial configurations of turbines
Figure 3 Comparison of efficiency and power rating for axial and radial configurations of turbines

Each energy conversion system whether it is for power generation, propulsion or any other application is designed for a set of operating conditions called a design point. This is where the system will typically be optimum for and where it will be running most of its “on” time. This is why ensuring that the design point (or design points) is accurately defined is critical since operation outside of these defined conditions will lead to additional losses that translate into a lesser power production for the same cost of input energy. Performance prediction of systems at off-design conditions is an essential part of any design task which allows restricting system operation to conditions of high components efficiency. If the pump/compressor is operated at a different mass flow rate its pressure ratio will be different and so will be the efficiency and therefore the amount of power generated by the expander, see Figure 4.

Figure 4 Performance map of a centrifugal compressor showing its efficiency as a function of the mass flow rate for different rotation speeds
Figure 4 Performance map of a centrifugal compressor showing its efficiency as a function of the mass flow rate for different rotation speeds

In our next post, we will continue the discussion of the turbomachinery industry as it relates to climate change. Stay tuned!

Beyond the Clouds in No Time

We can all agree that airplanes are cool, and rockets are awesome, but when combined, the result is even better! Besides getting engineers to jump up and down for this revolutionary concept, Reaction Engines Ltd applied it to an actual SABRE engine concept.

SABRE stands for Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine and one typically does not associate “Air-Breathing” with “Rocket.” which makes this engine a one of a kind to reach new heights (literally). Let’s dig into the geeky technical specs of the engine while going through some quick history of this revolutionary single stage to orbit propulsion system.

SABRE Engine
Source: Reaction Engines

SABRE is an evolution of Alan Bond’s series of liquid air cycle engine (LACE) and LACE-like designs that started in the early/mid-1980s under the HOTOL project. Upon termination of HOTOL funding, Bond formed Reaction Engines Ltd. SABRE is currently being developed for hypersonic flights and runs on a combined cycle; the precooled jet engine configuration is used in the air-breathing phase of the flight until air becomes scarce and speed critical. From this moment on the engine switches to its close cycle rocket mode to bring the Skylon airplane to orbit (2 engines are mounted on the aerospace plane).

The air-breathing mode (below Mach ~5 and about 25 km altitude which is about 20% of the orbital velocity and altitude, respectively) works almost like a regular jet with one major difference being the apparition of a new component, first discussed in 1955; the air precooler which is placed behind the translating axisymmetric shock inlet cone that slows the air to subsonic speeds inside the air-breathing engine using 2 shock reflections. The precooler is “capable of cooling incoming air (without liquefying it, from around 1000°C) to −150°C (−238°F), to provide liquid oxygen (LOX) for mixing with hydrogen to provide jet thrust during atmospheric flight before switching to tanked LOX when in space.” This precooler also allows a considerable reduction of the thermal constraints of the engine which then requires “weaker” and much lighter materials that are a necessity when reaching orbital velocities and altitudes. With compressors working more efficiently with a colder fluid, and the incoming air already highly compressed from the flight speed and shock waves, the fed pressure in the combustion chamber is around 140 atm. When in rocket mode, the inlet cone is closed and liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen are burned from on-board fuel tanks for the remaining 80% of velocity and climb required to reach orbit.

Source: Reaction Engines

On a very recent note, feasibility studies conducted by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory were successfully passed in 2015.

Although the application of the SABRE engine is destined for orbital use, its cousin (Scimitar) has been designed for the environmental-friendly A2 hypersonic (top speed higher than Mach 5) passenger jet for 300 rushed passengers (about 3 times more than the Concorde) under the LAPCAT (Long-Term Advanced Propulsion Concepts and Technologies) study founded by the European Union.

When dealing with such high speeds, noise becomes a real constraint and flying above inhabited areas is restricted, which is why specific aerial routes are designed. According to Alan Bond, the A2 design could fly subsonically from Brussels International Airport into the North Atlantic, reaching Mach 5 across the North Pole and over the Pacific to Australia in about 4.6 hours, with a price tag similar to what you would pay for business class these days. This speed would heat the body of the craft so that windows are not an option because the appropriate thickness would represent a considerable weight. It is therefore thanks to flat panel displays showing images that you would be able to enjoy the scenery.

Blog - plane 2
Source: www.salon-de-l-aviation.com

 

When one talks about high-velocity flight it is difficult not to think of the French Concorde that operated between 1976 and 2003 and could travel at Mach 2.04 (limited by thermal constraints due to the material used) using the Scramjet technology; scramjet standing for “supersonic combustion ramjet”. This allowed a New York City to Paris flight in less than 3.5 hours instead of 8 hours with a conventional jet.

Blog -220px-Concorde_Ramp
Source: http://www.concordesst.com/powerplant.html

The principle of this technology is to compress air with shock waves under the body of the aircraft before injecting the fuel (the Concorde’s intake ramp system can be seen on the figure on the right).

Due to the high inefficiency of this technology at low speeds, afterburners are used from take-off until reaching the upper transonic regime.

Keeping in mind that the heating of the Concorde’s body due to friction could make it expand by as much as close to a foot, it becomes easy to understand one of the reasons why high altitudes (scarcer air and therefore lesser aerodynamic resistance) are chosen for such high flight velocities; the Concorde cruising altitude was around 56,000 ft and would be decreased when sun radiation levels were becoming too high. On a side note you can keep an eye out at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris (France) for a Concorde displayed outside.

Oh and did I forget to mention that the turbomachinery parts on the SABRE engine are currently being designed in the AxSTREAM suite??

SoftInWay Case Study

SoftInWay’s New Year’s Resolutions

2015

SoftInWay had a spectacular year (more on that to come!) and we are excited for the next! In honor of the New Year, SoftInWay would like to take this opportunity to express our goals for 2015.

Our Resolutions: Continue reading “SoftInWay’s New Year’s Resolutions”

SoftInWay launches its Learning Center

Sneak peek of our new Learning Center

On September 15th, 2014 SoftInWay will be launching a beta release of its new Learning Center. The center will provide users with the knowledge necessary to design, analyze, and optimize efficient turbomachinery. The center will act as an alternative education option to SoftInWay’s full classroom training courses. Those with time, travel, or budget limitations can use the center to acquire engineering knowledge in the fundamentals and hands-on applications of turbomachinery. Continue reading “SoftInWay launches its Learning Center”

What’s Going to Happen to the Service Market?

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-04-29/ge-said-to-covet-alstom-business-servicing-electric-power-plants
Source: Business Week, “GE Said to Covet Alstom Business Servicing Power Plants”

GE considers buying Alstom but so is Siemens. What’s going to happen to the service market?

Currently Alstom covers 25% of the world’s service market and is the world’s third largest provider of equipment and services for power generation. (Source: Alstom)

Power plants are aging as we speak, so the service market is attracting the attention from different service providers.
Continue reading “What’s Going to Happen to the Service Market?”

Page 1 of 11