Turbine control system: autopilot for turbines

Turbine Control System: Science has come a long way since the industrial revolution. Yet, there is no doubt that the tireless work of scientists and innovators has changed the world for the better. Be it the automotive industry or traveling across continents. Or the convenience of relaxing in your living room with the air conditioner on a hot day. All these are nothing but the mere blessing of science. When innovative minds get to work, they can produce results deemed impossible by the people before them.

One such person was Charles Parson. He developed the first steam turbine in 1884, which produced electricity by driving an electric generator. His invention enabled the possibility of making a cheap yet ample amount of electricity. In addition, he applied his ingenuity to revolutionize naval warfare and marine transportation.

A turbine is a mechanical device that has a rotary motion. It is a complex machine designed to convert and harness the energy of fluids into valuable electrical energy through rotational movement. Various fluids can be used to power these machines, for instance, steam, air, wind, or even combustible gases. These fluids, in turn, directly produce hydropower, propulsions, wind power engines, etc.

There are four basic types of turbines:


  • Water turbine: this is one of the most efficient ways of producing energy. Water turbines can convert around 90% of energy into electrical energy. This turbine is much better as compared to electricity fossil fuel makes, which converts only 50% of energy into electricity. Water turbines generally drove industrial plants before electric grids.
  • Gas turbine: these turbines are widely used in aeronautical engineering. Gas turbines convert natural gas and other natural fuels into mechanical energy. We will discuss this turbine in detail below.
  • Wind turbine: we usually use electricity to produce wind through fans in our homes and office. Wind turbines are the exact opposite. We employ a renewable resource, wind, to produce electricity. We usually see these turbines, also known as windmills, in places of high altitudes. Another ideal location for their placement is near the sea or between the gaps of mountainous areas where the air is converged to produce high wind pressure. China is the leading country that utilizes wind energy at its best. They generate more than 290 Giga Watts annually.
  • Steam turbine: these are the first type of turbines. They Steam turbines convert pressurized steam into mechanical energy. Steam engines are 65-90% efficient; however, small-scale steam turbines can be 40% efficient.

Nowadays, steam or gas turbines produce a big chunk of electrical power that triggers turbo generators.

The Turbine control system necessity

Turbines need to be controlled by expert staff along with control systems to ensure the smooth running of these turbines. The primary function of these control systems is to keep air, fuel, and emissions control in check. A turbine control system is also responsible for protecting the turbine alongside controlling the unit during its routine operations. Usually, it is in various partitions like pressure, temperature, speed, flow, etc. For instance, the wind turbine control system measures the speed and flow of wind, and the auto positions itself in the optimum direction. Some essential functions of a control system include:

Startup protocol

The gas turbine control system is a specimen of perfection. The unit must start up remotely by the control system. The Control system also accelerates the unit to its optimum speed. Consequently, synchronizing it with the grid automatically increases the operations load to the desired setting.

Unit protection operations

The control system must protect the unit from overspeeding or overheating. In addition, the it must notify the operator digitally of any unknown vibrations or loss of flame or lubrication.

Thermal check and balance

Thermocouples are an essential part of a control system’s temperature control. They are usually mounte close to the combustion cans and near the exhausts of the turbines.

Speed maintenance

The system measures the speed of the turbine and then compares it with the desired speed of the turbine. If there is a difference between them, it is called an error. Then, the turbine control system will eliminate the error by adjusting the orifice of the fuel valve.

Market divisions of Turbine control system

Numerous countries are working in this field. However, their area of expertise is divided base on the markets they are targeting. There are mainly four types of demands of the turbine control systems.

By type

The market is also dependent on what sort of control system the turbine requires. It can be steam, wind, gas turbine, etc.

By installation

The control systems market diverges based on where the system will be they install and on which turbine.

By application

The choice of control systems also heavily relies on which field they are are use in. it can be the oil and gas, refrigeration, Aerospace, Marine and naval forces, etc.

By geography

Different topographical locations have different circumstances. Therefore, they require different settings from other industries.

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