Adaptability of coal-based power generating units to accommodate renewable energy sources is becoming increasingly important. In order to improve flexibility, reduce start-up time and extend the life cycle, General Electric has developed solutions to pre-warm/warm-keep steam turbines using hot air.

In this paper two main contributions to optimize the warming arrangements are presented. Firstly, the calibrated model of a 19-stage IP steam turbine is analyzed regarding time-dependent mass flow rates in a pre-warming mode. The influences on the duration time of the process and the thermally induced stress are investigated. This investigation utilizes a detailed 3D hybrid (HFEM-numerical FEM and analytical) model of the turbine including the rotor, inner casing and blading for computationally-efficient determination of transient temperature fields in individual components. The thermal boundary conditions are calculated by means of heat transfer correlations developed for this purpose. Moreover, a separate FEM model allows for the implementation of a structural mechanical analysis. As a result of this investigation, the pre-warming time can be further reduced while simultaneously lowering the thermal load in the components.

Secondly, selected pre-warming strategies are compared with the warm-keeping scenarios. This analysis is aimed at a minimum thermal energy use required for a reheating of air in a warming arrangement. Hence, the pre-warming and warm-keeping operating strategies are evaluated with regard to their energy demand before start-up. Thus, based on the duration of standstill, the most energy-efficient turbine warming strategy can be chosen to ensure hot start-up conditions.

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