Prototype Steam Turbine for Solar Power Production



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Advances in Materials Science and Engineering


Fabrication of a prototype direct drive steam turbine using locally available materials provides a means to supply power and process heat for off-grid areas, which are not accessible due to rugged terrain. The use of solar power technologies to provide clean power and heat will mitigate environmental pollution and global warming that are caused by combustion of fossil fuels and other carbon-based power sources. The energy density of fossil fuels is higher than that of nonconcentrated solar power, which makes them a better option compared to nonconcentrated solar power sources. The high cost of steam thermal turbines and the limited technical skills on utilization of local materials for steam turbine construction have hampered the realization of potential of producing both small- and large-scale power in Africa. The design of the single-stage blade wheel system solar thermal turbine was done using AutoCAD 2010. The blades were made from encapsulated rice husk particle boards, and the steam casing was made from 0.0015 galvanized black iron sheet. Compensation for more stages was done by sending the fluid exiting from the turbine into the solar collector for reheating. It was coupled to a single-phase generator and gearbox. The rotor was made of galvanized iron tube. The turbine’s average efficiency was obtained as 61.6% and average isentropic efficiency was 55.3%. The combined gearbox and generator approximate efficiency was 54.7%. Locally available heat transfer fluids were used for solar thermal collection. The prototype turbine was designed to produce 500 W of power. It had a heat rate ratio of 0.08. The turbine inlet conditions were as follows: average temperature of 112.8°C, average pressure of 2.7 × 105 Nm−2, average enthalpy of 3156 kJ/kg, and average steam flow rate of 243.3 kg/hr. Outlet conditions were as follows: outlet average temperature of 97.3°C, average steam flow rate of 102.0 kg/hr, average pressure of 1.20 × 105 Nm−2, and enthalpy of 2103 kJ/kg. With use of 6 M sodium chloride solution, the turbine inlet conditions were as follows: enthalpy of 3789.1 kJ/kg at a pressure of 3.0 × 105 Nm−2 and its enthalpy at exit was 2346.3 kJ/kg at a pressure of 1.05 × 105 m−2 which can provide process heat and power for off-grid areas.