Turbines play an integral role in powering machinery. These devices harness rotational — or kinetic — energy from sources like gas, fluids, or steam. A turbine’s rotational design extracts energy from the source and converts it into power that can then be applied to a wide range of industries.
Read on to learn how turbines are used in various industries and which type of turbine may work best for you.
Types of Turbines
There are several types of turbines to choose from. However, a turbine’s extraction method and design will influence which turbine type is best-suited to your specific needs.
These devices are typically divided into different types based on the following factors:
- The energy conversion method
- The way material moves through the turbine
- Turbine speed
Choosing the right turbine is essential for overall machine functionality and operational efficiency. The correct choice can also improve operating costs and profitability, but how do you know which one is right for you?
Skilled engineers can help you choose the best turbines for your machines. These individuals understand the intricacies of various machines and industry-specific considerations that can influence your turbine choice. They will likely help you choose one of the three main types of turbines:
- Steam turbine
- Gas turbine
- Back pressure turbine
Let’s dive into how each type of turbine is used and which industries and applications these turbines are best suited for.
This type of turbine pulls thermal energy from steam and converts it into mechanical output. This turbine type uses steam to propel blades and generate kinetic energy. Steam turbines are typically made up of rotors, blades, inlets, and outlets.
The design of the blades controls the speed, direction, and pressure of steam as it passes through the turbine. As a result, these turbines increase efficiency because they help convert gas into energy that can be used to generate electricity. That is why they’re a popular choice for powering generators to produce electricity.
Steam turbines are designed to operate at higher speeds than their water or wind counterparts. In addition, their compact design makes them an appealing choice for smaller spaces. However, a thermal energy source is required for steam turbines to work due to the nature of steam generation.
Steam Turbine Applications
Steam turbines are most commonly used to generate electricity at power plants — such as those in the biomass industry. This type of turbine usually collects steam from boilers and optimizes the steam supply to power generators. Here are some common industries that use steam boilers:
- Nuclear energy plants
- Fossil fuel and natural gas sectors
- Geothermal power plants
Back Pressure Turbines
Back pressure turbines optimize steam exhaust. When steam enters the turbine, it expands, and part of the thermal energy is converted into mechanical output. This energy is then used to power equipment, such as pumps, fans, and compressors. These turbines exhaust steam at or above atmospheric pressure.
There are many potential benefits of back pressure turbines, including:
- Cost-effective power generation
- Potential isentropic efficiency of 20% to 70%
- Reduced carbon dioxide emissions
- Improved operational efficiencies when paired with high-quality boilers
Back Pressure Turbine Applications
Back pressure turbines can be found in a variety of industries. They are commonly used to support operations in the following areas:
- Paper plants
- Water treatment facilities
Gas turbines are typically used to power equipment, such as aircraft, ships, and trains. However, they can also play an integral role in powering compressors and tanks. Gas turbines work by heating a mix of fuel and air to propel the blades and power generators.
This turbine type offers several potential benefits:
- Gas turbines offer lower operational costs when compared to steam turbines or electrical engines.
- They are a cost-efficient option that delivers unparalleled durability.
- These turbines have less risk of failure and have reduced maintenance needs compared to other turbine types.
- They offer 10% to 15% increased efficiency over heavier equipment types. However, they won’t add to a facility’s equipment count.
Gas Turbine Applications
Gas turbines are used in several industries to power equipment. Some applications of gas turbines include:
- Jet propulsion in the aviation industry
- Powering military tanks
- Powering large ships
- Supporting locomotives
Partner with Industrial Boilers America
We understand the intricacies of industrial boilers and the important role turbines play in operational efficiency. IBA is a leading boiler manufacturer with 20+ years of experience. Our team can develop tailored solutions for your turbine needs. Let us help you determine the right boiler configurations for you. Contact our team today.