Technological Advancements in Turbomachinery That Could Boost Revenue in the Energy Sector

Technological Advancements in Turbomachinery That Could Boost Revenue in the Energy Sector

The turbomachinery market industry over the years has experienced lots of technological advancement as manufacturers are investing heavily in cutting-edge research and development to reduce start-up times, improve low-speed productivity, and enhance responsiveness to power demands.

The market is a growing one. It was valued at over $1.5 billion in 2022, with a forecast of reaching $2.95 billion by 2030. Meanwhile, the global market for turbomachinery control systems is predicted to end the year 2023 at a $6.75 billion valuation.

What is turbomachinery?

Turbomachinery is a field of mechanical engineering that deals with machines that transfer energy between a fluid and a rotating element.

Generally, the turbo machinery industry includes manufacturers of gas compressors, gas and steam turbines, and aircraft engines.

Turbomachines are divided into two main categories: those that use power to increase fluid pressure (fans, compressors, and pumps) and those that produce power by expanding fluid (wind, hydraulic, steam, and gas turbines).

They are used in various industries, such as power generation, oil and gas, chemical processing, and aerospace.

Turbomachinery control

Turbomachinery control systems are designed to optimize the power and speed of turbines and compressors. It increases the safety and performance of the machine.

In the energy sector, turbomachinery control provides the consistent pressure required to operate pneumatic valves and actuators. It can also enhance the productivity of the turbomachinery equipment.

The energy industry is expected to dominate the market for turbomachinery control as there is a high probability of increased demand for oil and gas across the globe.

Technological advancements in turbomachinery systems

Improved turbomachinery performance requires advances in multiple technological domains. 

Digital twins

Digital twins are virtual representations of physical objects updated with real-time sensor data. For example, a digital twin of a gas turbine would collect data on energy output, temperature, weather conditions, and other factors to create a precise model of the turbine’s performance.

Once updated with this data, the digital twin can simulate performance, which is used to identify and analyze problems and propose solutions. This process can generate valuable insights that can be used to improve the wind turbine.

Additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is an emerging technology that enables the industrial production of complex materials without joints or post-processing. Multiple materials can be used simultaneously, reducing waste and lowering costs.

The process involves the creation of an object, such as a turbo machine, one layer at a time. It is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing, which creates objects by removing material from a solid block until the desired shape is achieved.

Additive manufacturing is faster than traditional manufacturing as it eliminates many creation steps. It can be used to manufacture complex parts with integrated functionality.

Using additive manufacturing for objects like blades and vanes, fuel injectors, impellers, swirlers, burners and combustion chambers, cladding, and seals can reduce material wastage by as much as 80 percent.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is a technology that enables machines to learn to learn from data, adapt to change, and mimic human behavior.

Turbomachines are still essential for efficiently converting renewable, chemical, or potential energy into propulsion, mechanical power, or electricity. The rising demand for efficiency, availability, reduced size, and cost of ownership presents fundamental challenges for design methods, which must be constantly improved to keep up with the availability of new materials, fluids, fuels, manufacturing processes, and technologies.

Recent design methods combine artificial intelligence and high-fidelity simulations to guide the design process by leveraging data from multiple sources and improving the accuracy of design verification. 

This approach has been successfully applied to aero and thermal design and critical areas of materials and fluids engineering. 

In the future, combining machine learning and high-fidelity methods could enable researchers to conduct reliable virtual tests throughout the design process, reducing design time and risk.

Advanced materials

Advanced materials are engineered to exhibit new or improved properties that outperform conventional materials.

For instance, Nickel-based superalloys are now used to manufacture turbine discs because they are highly resistant to fatigue, creep, oxidation, and corrosion.

Also, Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMS) are now used in the manufacturing of gas turbines because they offer very high thermal shock resistance and impact toughness.

CMCs used in gas turbine engines are generally made of silicon carbide, ceramic fibers, and ceramic resin. 

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) shares similarities with Digital Twins technology. However, VR offers an immersive simulated experience, while digital twins create virtual representations of physical systems. Their visualization, interaction, data sources, industry applications, and hardware requirements differ.

VR has been documented to speed up the production of aero-derivative gas turbines. It offers the engineers an opportunity to validate the design in detail.

The technology helped define a pre-validated assembly sequence, sped up the assembly process, ensured on-time delivery, and reduced scrap and rework.

Possible impact on energy sector revenue

  • More efficient power generation
    More efficient turbomachinery could lead to lower fuel costs for power generators, translating into higher profits.
  • Reduced downtime
    A reliable and durable turbomachinery could reduce downtime for power generators and other industrial facilities, translating into higher demands and invariably higher profits.
  • New applications
    New turbomachinery technologies could enable new applications in the energy sector, such as more efficient desalination plants and offshore wind turbines. This could create new markets for turbomachinery manufacturers and suppliers.