Wet steam is a common occurrence at the exhaust of the LP turbines in fossil-fired steam plants. In nuclear turbines, wet steam will be found right from the high-pressure sections. The presence of moisture in steam reduces the aerodynamic efficiency of the turbine sections, thus reducing the overall efficiency of the turbine. Additionally, water droplets also cause erosion and corrosion of buckets and other components. LP turbines account for a significant portion of the total cost of the turbines (due to the enormous sizes required by the expanding steam) and produce significant portion of the power output. Measuring and controlling wetness will help improve both the performance and reliability of turbines. A novel way of measuring the composition of wet steam using a speed of sound based technique is being developed. The technique, based on technology developed for measuring two-phase flow compositions in down-hole (oil-field) applications, relies on measuring acoustic pressures propagating in a one-dimensional wave-guide (pipe or tube) using an array of axially located pressure transducers. The technique is non-intrusive to the flow field and relies on passive listening of the noise generated by the flow itself (and, hence differs from the conventional ultrasound based techniques). The current study is an ongoing effort and the paper will focus on the feasibility of this technique for wet steam application. The eventual aim is to be able to measure steam wetness in the range of 0–10% with an accuracy of ± 0.2%. Initially, the ability of the technique to accurately measure the wetness in air-water mixture was established using an air and water mist facility. Next, high subsonic flow conditions were evaluated in single phase (air only) flow using a wind tunnel facility. Excellent agreement between speed of sound calculated for air, based on conventional pressure and temperature measurements in a wind tunnel, and that measured directly by the probe was obtained. The wind tunnel tests showed that the SOS measured by the probe and conventional instrumentation agreed within ± 1.5%. This establishes that the technique is capable of accurately measuring the speed of sound, which is the primary variable to calculate the flow composition. The technique can also be used to measure volume. Although the wind tunnel tests were not specifically designed to assess the accuracy of the flow rate measurement, comparisons were made between the flow velocities given by the probe and reference measurements. The additional motivation was to assess the ability of the probe to monitor volume flow/mass flow at high Mach numbers where only shorter straight sections are available. The flow velocities measured by the probe agreed with those calculated using the wind tunnel instrumentation (wall-static taps) within the estimated uncertainty levels introduced by the flow blockage and profile distortions. Additional tests are planned to assess flow rate accuracy. Effort is continuing to study steam flows representative of exhaust of low pressure steam turbines in steam plants.

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