Turbomachinery Makes the World Go ‘Round

Ancient Water Wheel, Modern Turbine

Ok, ‘turbomachines’ don’t actually make the world ‘go round, but they have been the catalyst of human advancements for thousands of years—from the early Roman water wheels of the first century B.C. to the modern power turbines, and aircraft engines of today.

I am amazed by the massive size and complexity of steam, gas, and hydro turbines found in power plants all over the world.  Here’s an interesting link to simple explanations about different types of turbines and how they work.

Like all manufacturers, Turbomachinery companies are facing increasing environmental and economic pressures causing them to seek greater efficiency, both in their product development processes and in the performance of their products. Power plants and the steam turbines that drive them must be able to ramp up and ramp down to meet changing energy demands on a regular basis.

Engineers at Alstom
Engineers at Alstom

During peak power demand cycles, steam turbines need to be able to start-up rapidly, handle load and temperature changes predictably, and withstand the stress of dynamic operating conditions reliably.

To meet these market demands, Alstom Power in Switzerland is using Abaqus FEA from SIMULIA to cut design cycle time, reduce development costs, and improve the reliability of their turbomachines. Check out their case study “Fast-Starts Help Squeeze Watts”.

Turbomachinery designers and engineers also have to take into account a range of design variables of complex, multidisciplinary systems—from the turbine, the compressor, the combustor, the casing, the rotors and bearings—all must work in tandem in extreme conditions of temperature, pressure, and high forces on the rotating components.

Robust Design Process
Robust Design Process

How is it possible to account for all of the design variables and optimize these complex machines? Check out this view point article “Assessing Variability to Achieve Robust Design” by Alexander Karl, from Rolls-Royce (on page 4 of INSIGHTS magazine).

If you want to learn more about how Abaqus and Isight are being used to analyze and optimize Turbomachinery performance, do a quick Google search; “Turobmachinery + analysis + Abaqus” or, “Turbomachinery + optimization + Isight”. You’ll quickly find an incredible wealth of information.

Plus, you’ll discover—like I have—that Turbomachinery does make our world go ’round.

Without turbomachinery, we would be in the dark and grounded. Instead, we enjoy electricity convinently at the flip of a switch and global air travel comfortably at 30,000 feet.

Bon Voyage,


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