To address the main challenges for energy production, six European OEMs have agreed to join forces and work collaboratively with renowned research institutes and universities to develop innovative solutions to overcome the limitations of current technology preventing the highly flexible operation of thermal power plants. The proposed work follows the strategy of the EU Turbines Roadmap on Turbomachinery Research 2014-2020.
The FLEXTURBINE partners are actively taking part in numerous national and international research initiatives with the focus on innovative turbomachinery for power plants towards the EU policy directives for global decarbonisation. This common roadmap lays the basis for accelerating the development cycles for new individual products and services ready for the market in the medium term.


Assessment on Power Plant Level

FLEXTURBINE will initially define plant level based specifications for those technologies and later assess the technology benefits via whole engine modelling at a system level. Plant level will be linked to the technology level. The User Consultation Group will especially be used to help define the plant level requirements. A likely metric is Life Cycle Cost. Within the project, the impact of increased flexibility and the resulting technology improvement on life cycle cost will be determined. The UCG will help define the required increased flexibility in terms of parameters like increased cycling and higher ramp rates.

Approach on flutter-resistant turbine blade design

Modern computational tools have to be improved to address the interaction between blades and different unsteadiness sources due to strong non-linear flow phenomena occurring in off-design operation. This requires experimentation on test rigs and in field to investigate the engine operating conditions and to measure the behaviour of the blades under flutter conditions. The results will subsequently be used to improve the predictive models adopted. The most ambitious step of is the issue of guidelines to be applied in the blading design of LSB flutter-free that shall ensure safe operation of steam turbines in wider operation ranges preventing any potential machinery failures. The availability of such guidelines represent an effective progress beyond the state of the art.

Approach on seal and bearing designs

The research on seals and bearings will cover topics which are important in steam turbine and gas turbine design procedures. Although being developed for either steam or gas turbines, they all have in common to avoid wear and failure due to increased stator-rotor displacement at transient and off-design conditions and rotor vibrations or to reduce leakages. The following efforts were selected as they are considered to maximise impact on the overall project objectives for each individual turbine technology. However, most of the new features developed can be adopted for all turbine technologies. In the whole engine modelling the potential benefits will be assessed for both turbine technologies respectively.

Approach on life cycle management

The emphasis in this project will be on advanced tests for new model development and validation for conditions which are more representative of those in an engine than the standard material specimen tests which provide baseline material data. The components which are critically affected by more machine flexible operation include:

  • Rotors
  • Hot section components (blades, vanes and combustor parts)
  • Compressor blading (where dynamics can be significant)

The specific components and mechanisms that will be addressed in FLEXTURBINE are:

  • Cyclic lifetime prediction of large steam turbine rotors
  • Combined cycle fatigue damage in gas turbine blade aerofoils
  • Long term fatigue life of gas turbine blade roots and turbine disc features
  • Heavy duty gas turbine blade (bucket) cyclic lifetime and sensitivity to grain defects
  • Rig development for high temperature/high pressure cyclic testing of hot section components