Technology Update

GE talks flexibility and efficiency at UK forum


Old Trafford, the UK home of Manchester United football team, was the venue for General Electric Power and Water’s FlexEfficiency Forum, aimed at getting the most out of gas turbine technology, writes Diarmaid Williams.

GE chiefs used the event to demonstrate to UK-based gas-fired power sector personnel the benefits of harnessing the company’s big data and analytics resources, GE’s 9E Advanced Gas Path (AGP) and 9F-3 Advanced Gas Path (AGP) upgrade solutions.

The focus of the technology is on helping plant owners fulfil burgeoning power demands more flexibly, efficiently, and while maintaining a low emissions footprint. Ultimately the technology is about bringing more predictability and sustainability to power generation operations.

Predictability is highly sought after for power plant owners and management, and that ability to forecast costly issues is key to the product. The company has invested significantly in a software centre of excellence in Silicon Valley which has as its aim an imperative for power plant owners: having planned rather than unplanned outages, giving them the ability to see failures on the horizon before system failures actually arise.

Explaining the technology in terms of asset management and asset optimization, Eric Kauffman, Director of Product Strategy, Software & Analytics at GE Power Generation, provided a football analogy to bring home the qualities of the product in maintaining performance.

Inspired by the Old Trafford backdrop to the event, Kauffman said that what GE is doing is similar to the practice of teams “using saliva tests on players after games or training to determine nutritional needs so that each player gets a custom energy drink and is then ready for the next game as quickly as possible.”

“When we talk about predictivity we are talking about getting information from instrumented machines with lots of data coming from that, giving that to experts such as engineers, arming those people with the analytical tools to come up with the best solutions.

“The thing we can do for power plants is, we can help a plant maintain its maximum performance across the entire power plant – the scheme cycle, the gas cycle, all of the components.

“We have the analytics to calculate that corrective to standard conditions and track degradation and then remotely monitor it and engage experts when they’re needed. Then we can combine that with the on-site services of testing and evaluation, full plant level, not just the gas part of it.”

For reliability it’s very similar. GE works with its clients and facilitates their objectives through harnessing data-driven insights from 100+ million hours of operating data on what is the world’s largest gas turbine fleet.

“We monitor about a thousand signals from each machine and those also go to our remote monitoring centre. We have algorithms we use to look for issues and we contact customers when we find issues. We combine that with inspection data. For example, if a customer has high dynamics in their combustion and let’s say they don’t have auto tune, we can identify the high dynamics, tell the customer what the impact is, and remotely re-tune the machine to keep the dynamics in check.”

AGP technology also enables GE customers to benefit from lower fuel consumption, and the industry’s longest gas path maintenance interval that extend gas turbine assets and parts life.

The AGP solution exemplifies GE’s Power LifeMax, a portfolio of hardware- and software-blended solutions that enables customers to improve the performance and long-term value of their existing B/E-Class gas turbine assets.

Among the benefits of using the technology are a 2 per cent increase in output combined cycle, a 2 per cent increase in fuel efficiency for combined-cycle and up to 32,000-hour or 1200-start gas path maintenance intervals, which can extend outage intervals up to 33 per cent. There is also the potential to extend gas turbine assets and parts life out to as much as 96,000 hours.

GE’s OpFlex corrected parameter control software suite can further improve AGP performance. For example, it can lead to up to an 8 per cent increase in output with <25 ppm NOx.

It can also enable power to be delivered to the grid in less than 10 minutes and allow turndown to as low as 50 per cent.

In developing the product, the company leveraged more than 30 million hours of fleet operational experience in applying design innovations to key gas turbine components, including hot gas path buckets, nozzles and shrouds.

In terms of successful deployment, Dubai Aluminium (DUBAL), one of the world’s largest producers of aluminium products, has experienced a 3.4 per cent output increase and a 1.5 per cent fuel efficiency improvement on one GE 9E gas turbine since installing the AGP solution. These performance improvements have delivered nearly an additional 6 MW of power to the site’s power station, and enabled DUBAL to reduce its fuel costs.

DUBAL is to install AGP technology on two additional GE 9E units, and expects to gain comparable performance improvements that will translate to nearly 18 MW of additional power across all three gas turbines.

At the launch, International Energy Agency head of gas, coal and power, Laszlo Varro, said that there was much to be positive about for UK gas-fired power providers, and pointed to the expense and environmental pitfalls of competing means of power generation.

“If UK energy policy succeeds, there could be problems for gas-fired power. The business case for gas is less strong if policy is successful. However, no nuclear power build has ever been on time. … Also, the reason lignite coal is dirt cheap is because it is dirt.”

Tidal Energy unveils DeltaStream generator

Tidal Energy has unveiled its DeltaStream Tidal Energy Generator in Ramsey Sound, Wales, UK.

DeltaStream is designed to generate power over the widest possible variation of tidal water flows, the company said. The device will now be deployed for a 12-month testing period.

The unit includes a triangular steel main base frame with ‘Rock Feet’ to secure the device to the seabed. By providing a gravity foundation for three nacelles, this system reduces the high installation and maintenance costs traditionally associated with marine renewable technology.

The unit features an independent horizontal axis water turbine generator in each nacelle, supported on a tower at the apexes of the triangular main base. An automated hydraulic yaw mechanism for each nacelle controls the orientation of the water turbine generators in relation to the direction of the tidal flow. DeltaStream units connect to shore through an export submarine power cable. Power conditioning equipment for grid connection is located onshore.

Areva to launch fuel assembly design in US

Six US nuclear utilities have established a technical advisory board for the deployment of Gaia, Areva’s next generation pressurized water reactor fuel assembly design.

As part of this programme, one of the utilities will operate a set of eight lead test assemblies starting in spring 2015.

“Developed to meet the ever-increasing needs of nuclear utilities, the Gaia fuel assembly is focused on ensuring the safety and robustness of nuclear fuel operations,”said Guillaume Dureau, senior executive vice president of Areva’s Front End Business Group.

“Successfully used in 2012 in the Ringhals power plant in Sweden, Gaia offers customers optimal performance and a high burn-up capability,” he added.

Gaia’s fuel design provides utilities cost savings through its high mechanical fretting resistance, better thermal performance and increased tolerance to earthquakes, Areva said. The design also features advanced cladding designed to meet anticipated changes in US regulatory requirements.

Chinese nuclear pump accolade for SPX and ClydeUnion

SPX Flow Power & Energy ClydeUnion Pumps’ manufacturing facilities in Glasgow and Annecy, Scotland, have been awarded ‘A’ Grade supplier designation by China Nuclear Power Engineering Company (CNPEC) in recognition of their “high quality design, manufacturing, service and support”.

CNPEC is one of three firms in China licensed to construct nuclear power stations. The award is specific to the supply of pumps to the nuclear industry in China and reflects a longstanding relationship between the companies, during which they have delivered 146 pumps for nuclear applications to CNPEC in China since 2006.

An ‘A’ grading signifies an “excellent supplier”.

Colin Elcoate, vice-president of power business development at SPX, said: “This is a huge honour for SPX. It is affirmation of the quality of engineering, manufacturing and customer service we offer from our Glasgow and Annecy facilities.

“It also shows the high standard of service and support our teams in Glasgow, Annecy and China have provided to CNPEC, of which we are very proud.”

EEMUA publishes latest safety handbook

The Engineering Equipment and Materials Users Association (EEMUA) has published the sixth edition of EEMUA Publication 186, a practitioner’s handbook for explosive atmospheres.

This latest edition provides a significant update on previous editions, and includes new chapters on mechanical and application design engineering considerations.

EEMUA 186 offers guidance for improving safety in potentially explosive atmospheres, including power plants, and more, when the failure to adopt safe working practices could result in the ignition of flammable gases or combustible dust.

EEMUA 186 is closely associated with the CompEx scheme which determines core competency for safe working in potentially hazardous, flammable or explosive atmospheres by checking both the underpinning knowledge and practical skills and attributes of candidates.

EEMUA Publication 186 is available to purchase directly from EEMUA through its online shop at Alternatively orders can be placed by emailing

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