Dec 5, 2017 | By David

Global technology giant GE has been taking advantage of what 3D printing technology has to offer for years now, with the establishment of the dedicated GE Additive business in 2016 being one of its most significant moves in this field. The company’s energy division, GE Power, today announced that its largest gas turbine can now operate at 64 percent efficiency, which is a record-breaking figure for the energy industry. This was made possible due to GE’s innovative additive manufacturing systems, which were used to produce many of the turbine’s components.

The turbine is known as the 9HA.02, and it’s the latest version of the HA series of combustion systems, which had already broken records for efficiency last year. Since the first HA unit was inaugurated in June 2016, more than 17 units have entered operation, achieving a total of more than 50,000 operating hours between them.

GE achieved the new record efficiency results for the turbine at its test platform in Greenville, South Carolina. In specified conditions, with total output of 826 megawatts in 1x1 combined cycle configuration, the system was able to operate at 64 percent efficiency, an improvement of over 1 percent compared to last year. According to GE Power’s estimates, an additional percentage point of efficiency in gas turbines can translate to millions in fuel savings for customers globally.

GE Power is now firmly on track to achieve energy efficiency of 65 percent with the HA turbines by the 2020s. “The HA is our most advanced gas turbine technology, and we’ve never stopped pushing the boundaries of what it can do,” said Joe Mastrangelo, president and CEO, GE’s Gas Power Systems. “With the ability to deliver 64 percent efficiency, GE is proud to achieve an industry first and offer customers the most efficient gas technology available in the world today.”

3D printing has been the key to achieving this impressively high level of efficiency, with the technology’s improved design flexibility, lower costs, and shorter production cycle all contributing to the company’s optimization and continued fine-tuning of such a crucial industrial product as the HA.

GE’s engineers developed additively-manufactured components for the 9HA’s combustion system, which made use of metal 3D printing techniques in order to unlock new advanced geometries. These improved shapes, which would be impossible to fabricate without the digitally enhanced manufacturing process offered by 3D printing, can provide a much better pre-mixing of fuel and air. This improved pre-mix leads to more powerful gas combustion and therefore greater energy efficiency further down the line.

We’ve reported before on the breakthroughs that have been achieved by 3D printing technology in the renewable energy industry, particularly with improved turbines and other components. GE’s HA system shows the potential for additive manufacturing to also help improve conventional energy sources’ environmentally-friendly credentials, offering improved efficiency as well as support for renewable energy. Among its many benefits, the HA turbine is an excellent flexible complement to renewable sources, which can often be intermittent. It is capable of ramping up or down at 65 MW/minute while still meeting emissions requirements, which helps balance grid instability without sacrificing efforts to protect the eco-system.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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