Motivated by the urgent need for flexibility and start-up capability improvements of conventional power plants in addition to extending their life cycle, General Electric provides its customers with a product to pre-warm steam turbines using hot air.
In this paper, the transient thermal and structural analyses of a 19-stage IP steam turbine in various start-up operating modes are discussed in detail. The presented research is based on previous investigations and utilises a hybrid (HFEM - numerical FEM and analytical) approach to efficiently determine the time-dependent temperature distribution in the components of the steam turbine. The simulation strategy of the HFEM model applies various analytical correlations to describe heat transfer in the turbine channel. These are developed by means of extensive unsteady multistage conjugate heat transfer simulations for both start-up turbine operation with steam and pre-warming operation with hot air. Moreover, the complex numerical setup of the HFEM model also considers the thermal contact resistance (TCR) on the surfaces between vane and casing as well as blades and rotor. Prior to the analysis of other turbine start-up operating modes, the typical start-up turbine process is calculated and validated against an experimental data as a benchmark for subsequent analysis. In addition to heat transfer correlations, the simulation of a turbine start-up from cold state uses an innovative analytic pressure model to allow for a consideration of condensation effects during first phase of start-up procedure.