Steam Rules: The Future of Power Generation

Despite all the low energy lightbulbs and high efficiency appliances, demand for electricity is projected to increase over the next 25 years. More air conditioners will be installed in southern states to meet the needs of the growing population and more power will be needed for factories, shops and warehouses. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that between 2014 and 2040 residential electricity usage will grow 21%, commercial use by 27% and industrial use by 30%.

Steam turbines

The EIA estimates that keeping the lights on will need an additional 351 GW of generating capacity. Some of this will come from wind and photovoltaics, but most is expected to be gas-fired. Gas power plants generate electricity with turbines similar to jet engines but boost efficiency by adding secondary steam-turbine generators.

Theses systems use huge quantities of water, and the chemistry of that water has a big effect on the performance of the system. Left unchecked, the water can become corrosive, attacking the materials used in pipes, pumps and heat exchangers. When that happens particulates build up, clogging filters and reducing overall efficiency.

The role of sample panels

A sample panel is an automated unit that first conditions water for sampling by controlling temperature and flow, and can then, depending on the requirements, monitor water chemistry. (Some sample panels only produce samples for manual testing.) Power plants with steam systems are big users of sample panels because keeping water chemistry within defined limits helps maximize efficiency and extend system life.

For reliable operation, sample panels include a flow monitor. This continuously checks that flow rates are within the range needed for accurate sample monitoring, sending an alert when abnormal conditions, as might be caused by a partial blockage, are sensed.

ChemTec Featured productLPH SERIES

ChemTec’s LPH Series is a non-adjustable flow monitor intended for both corrosive and non-corrosive liquids and gases. Produced in acrylic, brass, 316 stainless and teflon, this senses high and low-flow conditions, sending a signal to a control panel should either occur. Designed without seals for reliable operation, LPH Series Flow Monitors are a compact solution to water and steam monitoring needs.

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