Looking Back at SoftInWay’s 2015

Happy New Year! The holiday season and 2015 have come to a close, and it has been quite a year. In this post, we are taking a look back at some of the greatest developments we have accomplished this year at SoftInWay. Take a look at the list and see if you missed anything, and stay tuned for a look at some of our plans and goals for 2016!

1. SoftInWay Turbomachinery University

Early in 2015, we launched STU, an innovative learning portal that provides online training for optimal turbomachinery design and analysis. STU consists of video courses on a variety of subjects, and corresponding exams. We have added 4 full courses in the past year. STU also features all recorded SoftInWay webinars and discounted versions of our software. Find STU here.

2. Software Upgrades

Our Software Platforms, AxSTREAM and AxCYCLE have become even more sophisticated in the last year. AxSTREAM, now version 3.4.3.0, has seen the addition of brand new capabilities, including Rotor Dynamic analysis and Bearing design.
AxCYCLE, now version 4.230, saw a major upgrade at the end of 2015 in the form of a new Module for Economic Analysis. The Module performs the estimation of cost and economic efficiency of power plants. It is the first tool of its kind in the industry.

3. Growing Team

SoftInWay expanded it’s team this year with new members in three of our offices. We have grown both our sales and technical teams for more efficient client communication and project execution. We are so happy to welcome our new teammates, and look forward to adding even more in 2016!

4. And more!

There are too many things to list! So here are a few more:
– We had our most successful webinars this year with a record number of registrants and attendees.
– We attended old and new conferences all of the world and at them published a number of papers and presentations.
– Our networking event at Turbo Expo in Montreal was a huge success. We hope to host more events in 2016 in new locations, including New York City!

We wish everyone a very happy New Year. We’re looking forward to 2016 where we will continue to innovate and grow.

Free Engineering Webinar – November 12!

Innovation Strategy: How to Leverage Turbomachinery Reverse Engineering

SoftInWay will be hosting its next free webinar on Thursday, November 12! This webinar will delve into the complicated world of reverse engineering and demonstrate the best methods and tools.

Reverse engineering of Turbomachinery is extremely important for the partial replacement of turbines or compressors that have operated for many years, especially for owners, operators, and non-OEM service providers.

Documentation for a significant amount of these machines is not available due to different reasons, thus replication/reproduction becomes costly and time consuming. In the owner/operator scenario, one of the options is to buy new, modern machinery (as a replacement), but this is often significantly more expensive than performing overhauls & optimization of the flowpath, while maintaining the casing and other components. For OEMs looking to study a competitor’s machine, things become even more complicated.

SoftInWay’s turbomachinery software platform, AxSTREAM, has a unique capabilities for extracting turbomachinery geometry and profiles from scanned data, thus streamlining the reverse engineering, benchmarking, duplication, and optimization process. Additionally, by leveraging the extensive experience of SoftInWay’s 60+ person engineering team, customers are able to benefit from our techniques and software for different types of overhaul, rerates, cycle changes, and other sophisticated projects.

The webinar will include:

  1. An introduction to the reverse engineering of turbomachinery including its origins and modern trends
  2. The significance of special software and specialized experience for reverse engineering of turbomachinery
  3. Information on how to leverage reverse engineering and modern software to improve existing turbomachinery performance
  4. Examples of reverse engineering-based improvement, innovation, and modification

Who should attend:

  1. Engineering professionals performing or involved in reverse engineering projects
  2. Engineering professionals working in the mechanical, aerospace, automotive, marine, or power generation industries seeking to renovate or improve existing turbomachinery equipment
  3. Engineering professionals working in turbomachinery operation who want to renovate or improve their equipment performance
  4. Engineering students looking for comprehensive and state-of-the-art approaches for turbomachinery reverse engineering

Register for this webinar by clicking the link below! Can’t attend? Register and we will make sure you receive a recording of the presentation.

 

Analyzing Thermal Power Generation Efficiency

Figure 1 - Thermal Power Plant Layout
Figure 1 – Thermal Power Plant Layout

Steam turbine power generating plants, also known as Thermal Power stations, are the most conventional type of electricity production today. Most of today’s electricity power is generated though this technology. Naturally, as implied by its name, a thermal power station uses steam power as its prime mover to convert energy in coal, or other fossil fuel, by heating water to steam and utilizing Rankine cycle principles to generate heat and electricity.

The basic theory of thermal power generation is pretty straight forward: in a simple thermodynamic cycle, saturated liquid water is heated to steam. The working fluid will then pass through a steam turbine, where its energy is converted to mechanical work to run the generator and produce the electricity. Then fluid will be condensed to be recycled back in the heater. Just as simple as that, electricity power is generated from the cycle based on Rankine cycle principle.

The utilization of thermal power station comes with the advantage of economical initial and generation cost, easy maintenance and simple cycle operation in practice. That being said, there are also couple major drawbacks associated to the technology, primarily, low overall efficiency –due to the nature of Rankine cycle’s characteristic of thermal efficiency and environmental issues.

There are many scientific reasoning behind thermal power generation’s low efficiency. It is important to know the reasons why to engage in a better technology. These are the primary reasons:

  • During the combustion of carbon, effective conversion more or less is found to be 90%, this happen primarily due to limitation of heat transfer where some heat are lost into the atmosphere. Coal also contains moisture that vaporizes and take the latent heat from combustions.
  • The thermodynamic step, working on Rankine cycle principle, is where 50% (or more) efficiency is consumed. When the steam is condensed for re-use, latent heat of condensation is lost in the cooling water, which decreases the energy input by a very significant magnitude. Losses can also happen in the blades and other components. The Rankine cycle efficiency is determined by the maximum temperature of steam that can be transferred through the turbine, which means the efficiency is also constrained by the temperature associated with the cycle. Two other main factors that affect the thermal efficiency of power plants are the pressure of steam entering the turbine and the pressure in the condenser. That being said, a cycle with supercritical pressure and high temperature usually results to a higher efficiency.
  • During a conversion of mechanical to electrical, some efficiency loss happens in the generator and transformer. A small percentage of energy generated will then be used for internal consumption.

Knowing the causes of low efficiency leads us to the next question: What are the steps to optimize our thermal power plant efficiency?

  • Since thermal efficiency depends on temperature and pressure, it can be improved by using high pressure and temperature steam, though obviously it will be limited based on the boundary conditions of the operating system. A lower pressure can also be set in the condenser.
  • Improvement could also be implemented by the application of reheating steam technology between turbine stages.
  • Waste heat recovery optimization, capture excess heat for reuse, and install insulation to reduce any losses.
  • Upgrading major systems/components of thermodynamic cycles and renewing materials to reduce natural losses in efficiency due to age.
  • Improve efficiency monitoring system to enable instant detection of losses as well as analyzing efficiency based on real data.

These are just some ways that could be utilized to optimize power generation efficiency, indeed each of the steps come with their own specific obstacles of implementation, but there are infinite ways that can be explored to advance the technology.

Learn more about maximizing your power plant productivity through our webinars and explore our tools to help with your efficiency optimization for power generation and component design!

Sources:
http://www.learnengineering.org/2013/01/thermal-power-plant-working.html

Attend the Turbo/Pump Symposia 2015 in Houston, Texas

Next month, the 44th Turbomachinery & 31st Pump Symposia will take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston Texas. The exhibition opens on Monday, September 14th, until Thursday, the 17th. The symposia are hosted in order to inspire knowledge exchange among industry professionals, along with professional development, technology transfer, and networking.

SoftInWay will be attending the symposia and exhibiting in booth #2637. Here’s what we are looking forward to the most:

  • Training courses led by top industry experts
  • Lectures, tutorial, case studies, discussion groups, and short courses
  • Exhibits including full-sized equipment and the latest industry innovations
  • Networking and knowledge exchange with fellow turbomachinery and pump professionals

We are also excited to show attendees what we have developed in the last year. Here at SoftInWay, we are constantly building our industry knowledge and software capabilities. We’ll be offering extensive software demonstrations in our booth. Be sure to stop by (and ask about our portable phone chargers)!

Need a free pass to attend the exhibition? You can get yours here. We’ll see you there.

How much more can I get with what I have?

Gas turbines are continuing their trend in becoming more efficient with each generation. However, the rate at which their efficiency increases is not significant enough to match more and more constraining environmental goals and regulations. New technologies like combined cycles therefore need to be used to increase cycle-specific power (more power produced without burning additional fuel).

The first generation of combined cycles featured a bottoming steam cycle that uses the heat from the gas turbine exhausts to boil off water in order to power a turbine and generate power. This traditional approach has been around since about 1970 and nowadays allows obtaining an additional 20% in cycle thermal efficiency (40% in simple gas turbine cycle configuration vs. 60% as a combined gas-steam cycle).

Figure 1: General efficiency increases over time for simple and combined cycle gas turbines
Figure 1: General efficiency increases over time for simple and combined cycle gas turbines
Figure 2: Example of a simple, recuperated Brayton, supercritical CO2 cycle that uses the exhaust flow of a gas turbine to heat its working fluid
Figure 2: Example of a simple, recuperated Brayton, supercritical CO2 cycle that uses the exhaust flow of a gas turbine to heat its working fluid

While this traditional approach is definitely effective, it does have some drawbacks; the equipment usually takes a significant amount of 3D space, there is always the risk of corrosion and substantial structural damage when working with 2-phase fluids, and so on. This, therefore, allows for different technologies to emerge, like supercritical CO2 cycles.

A supercritical fluid is a fluid that is used above its critical pressure and temperature and therefore behaves as neither a liquid nor a gas but as a different state (high density vs gas, absence of surface tensions, etc.). As a working fluid, supercritical CO2 has numerous advantages over some other fluids, including a high safety usage, non-flammability/toxicity, high density, inexpensiveness and absence of 2-phase fluid.

 

Figure 3: Example of difference in power density between supercritical carbon dioxide (left) and steam (right) for a 10 MW power turbine
Figure 3: Example of difference in power density between supercritical carbon dioxide (left) and steam (right) for a 10 MW power turbine

Moreover, steam turbines are usually difficultly scalable to small capacities which mean that they are mostly used in a bottoming cycle configuration for high power gas turbines. On the other hand supercritical CO2 (Rankine) cycles can be used for smaller machines as well as the bigger units while featuring an efficiency comparable to the one of a typical Rankine cycle and estimated lower installation, operation and maintenance costs.

Figure 4 Cycle efficiency comparison of advanced power cycles (source: A Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Cycle for Next Generation Nuclear Reactors. Dostal, V., 2004
Figure 4 Cycle efficiency comparison of advanced power cycles (source: A Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Cycle for Next Generation Nuclear Reactors. Dostal, V., 2004

The paper I presented at the ASME Power & Energy 2015 compares different configurations of SCO2 bottoming cycles for an arbitrary case for different boundary conditions before applying the selected cycle to a wide range of existing gas turbine units. This allowed determining how much additional power could be generated without needing to burn additional fuel and the results were far from insignificant! For the machines studied the potential for power increase ranges from 15% to 40% of the gas turbine unit power. Want to know how much more power you can get with your existing machines? Contact us to get a quote for a feasibility study before designing the waste heat recovery system yourself or with our help.

Plan Your Turbomachinery Training for the Rest of 2015

The sun is starting to shine and the weather is warming up. The schools are closed, the beaches are open, and everyone is itching to get to their vacation. But summer will be over before we know it! Don’t wait too long to begin planning for the final months of 2015. Take a look at our fall and winter courses that are now open for registration. Early sign-ups qualify for discounted prices! Here’s what’s available for the rest of the year:

Classroom Courses:

Centrifugal Compressor Design
September 15-19 | Zug, Switzerland (Register)
October 5-9 | Boston, MA, USA (Register)

Axial & Centrifugal Pumps Design
September 22-26 | Bangalore, KA, India (Register)
December 14-18 | Boston, MA, USA (Register)

Stream & Gas Turbine Design
September 22-26 | Boston, MA, USA (Register)
November 23-27 | Zug, Switzerland (Register)

Turbocharger Design & Performance Matching
October 12-16 | Bangalore, KA, India (Register)

Axial Compressor Design
November 23-27 | Bangalore, KA, India (Register)

Online Courses (click the dates to register!):

AxCYCLE for Organic Rankine Cycle Design
July 9-10, September 3-4, November 12-13

Waste Heat Recovery Design (Last of the year!)
July 13-30

AxCYCLE for Steam & Combined Cycle Design
July 28-29, September 10-11, November 4-5

AxCYCLE for Supercritical CO2 Cycle Design
August 4-5, October 27-28

Axial Turbine Design (Last of the year!)
August 10-20

Axial Compressor Design
September 21-October 1

Turbocharger Design
November 30-December 17

Also don’t forget about our monthly webinars! Keep an eye out for email invitations to our live presentations and demonstrations of the industry’s latest trends and developments. You can find all of our recorded webinars in our learning portal – SoftInWay Turbomachinery University. Your free registration gives you access to all recordings!

Turbo Expo 2015 – What We’re Excited For

In a few weeks, SoftInWay will be on its way to Montreal, Canada for ASME’s Turbo Expo! We are looking forward to a busy and exciting conference.

What we’re most excited for:

1. Montreal AfterWork: Professional Networking Event
This event is being held for professionals involved in Energy, Technology, Finance, and Startups to meet and network in a casual and enjoyable environment. All Turbo Expo attendees and local Montreal professionals are welcome to come by, have a drink, and chat about the latest developments in their field!

Date/Time: 6:30-9:00pm | Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Location: Santos Tapas Bar | 191 Rue St Paul W, Montreal, QC, H2Y1Z5 Canada
Attire: Business Casual
Registration: www.zurichafterwork.com/rsvp/

2.  SoftInWay Stage Presentations

Continue reading “Turbo Expo 2015 – What We’re Excited For”

Demystifying “Pushbutton” Approaches for CFD & FEA Turbomachine Design

Demystifying “Pushbutton” Approaches for CFD & FEA Design, Analysis, Redesign, & Optimization of Turbomachines

centrifugalcompressordesignAlthough there is not just one way to design a turbomachine there sure is one way not to do it; blindly.

A misconception that I commonly see when teaching engineers about fundamentals of turbomachines, as well as when leading design workshops, is that some engineers (mostly the younger generations) envision themselves plugging numbers, pushing buttons and getting results immediately without any real brain power behind their actions.

Nowadays, software packages are an integral part of an engineer’s toolkit, but in the same way that a mechanic would not (or should not) use a screwdriver as a hammer, each software has its own applications and ways to use it.

Continue reading “Demystifying “Pushbutton” Approaches for CFD & FEA Turbomachine Design”

Turbochargers in Formula 1

The history of turbochargers in Formula 1 is pretty fascinating. Turbochargers were initially introduced in 1905, applied to large diesel engines in the 1920’s and found their way into commercial automobiles in 1938. However, it took a few more decades for the turbochargers to be used in Formula 1 car racing.

When Renault decided to enter the sport in 1977, they started their engines based on the novel turbocharger concept. As one would expect, their first design suffered from constant reliability problems through all the races it competed in. As Renault focused their development entirely on the engine, the car’s aerodynamics worsened; it suffered a huge turbolag under acceleration, and when the boost finally triggered the tires were not able to handle it [1]. “So the engine broke and made everyone one laugh”, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, the driver, admitted in an interview. At the time, everyone was looking at the turbo engines as something that no one would ever hear about again.

MMR, twin turbocharged GT500 V8 engine, from Mustangs Daily [3].
MMR, twin turbocharged GT500 V8 engine, from Mustangs Daily [3].
From theJUDGE13 [2].
From theJUDGE13 [2].
 

 

 

 

 

 

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Innovation in Aerospace: Aircraft Compressor Design

Aerospace - croppedOur next webinar is on Thursday, April 30th! Are you an engineer involved in the Aerospace Industry and its latest development, a manager interested in improving the performance of your aircraft engines, or a student interested in the future of aerospace and the current climate of the industry? You should attend! During the webinar we will be taking a close look at the most recent trends and developments of compressors in aircraft engines with a focus on the key factors for the successful development of aircraft engines.

Key factors for successful development of aircraft engines include technological viability, performance, and re-usability. As one of the industry’s most high-technology products, aircraft engines require innovation in manufacturing and especially in design. They also face the need for continuous development in its technical capabilities in terms of achieving not only higher efficiencies and reliability but also safety and environmental legislations.

Continue reading “Innovation in Aerospace: Aircraft Compressor Design”