Introduction: Top Tips for a Power Station to Increase Its Efficiency.
The World Needs Power
As the world’s population has now grown to a staggering 7.106 billion in 2012 and is estimated to increase to 10.9 billion by the year 2050 it has given the world a huge problem which is, how are we supposed to sustain such a large population?
One solution to this problem is by rapidly increasing the power industry in order to meet the world needs however unless power stations are efficient in creating power we could be losing a lot of energy at great expense to the environment.
In this article I will discuss some of the tactics a power station can deploy to make there process more efficient and therefore more effective in providing the world with the energy it so desperately will need.
Step 1: Measuring Data
One of the most vital processes to ensuring that a power station is run efficiently is by having an advanced flow measurement system installed. This reason this is important is a power station can measure the capacity it is currently running at this will give an indication of how much longer a power station can have their generators or turbines operating to maximise the efficiency of the plant.
One way in which a power plant can be measure their data is via flow meters which are used to determine the amount of liquid or gas in a specific area at a certain time. In the case power stations a suitable flow meter to use would be a vortex flow meter which measures the flow rate of liquid or gas flowing through a pipe.
Step 2: Combustion
Currently the average efficiency level of coal fired global power plants is 28% however modern power plants have an efficiency level of 45%. As technology has evolved, there has become more efficient ways in which to use energy which if implemented in to some of the older power stations around could assist the cause of producing energy at a more efficient rate therefore reducing emissions.
Some of the technologies that power plants are currently using to improve efficiency are the following:
• Fluidised Bed Combustion
• Supercritical & Ultrasupercritical Technology
• Integrated Gasification Technology.
The advantages of these technologies is if they are implemented across all power plants they have the capability to reduce C02 emissions from coal by up to 25% which would equate to a 6% reduction in global CO2 emissions.
Step 3: Fluidised Bed Combustion (FBC)
The great advantage of fluidised bed combustion is it offers a flexible method of electricity production whilst at the same time being environmentally friendly as they reduce SOx and NOx emissions by 90%.
The process of fluidised bed combustion involves suspending solid fuels in upwards jets of air during the combustion process. The advantage that FBC has is it makes it easier to burn fuels that are hard to ignite such as coal mine wastes and petroleum coke.
The advantage they give power plants with these systems installed is it gives them the flexibility to utilise coal waste as an energy source where in power plants without this technology the excess coal would have to be discarded. This is one way in which technology allows power plants to make the most out of any material in the combustion process resulting in the power plant being more efficient.
Step 4: Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC)
Integrated gasification combined cycle is another process that can help a power station achieve greater efficiency levels. It does this by using a gasifier to create syngas from carbon based materials which in turn are used to drive a turbine in order to create electricity. The reason integrated gasification combined cycle systems are so effective is the waste heat produced from the reaction to create the syngas is then recovered to create steam that is used to drive a steam turbine creating more electricity.
There is still more research to be completed to increase the reliability of IGCC systems as the cost is significantly more expensive than traditional coal fired power plants. However once the technology has been refined and available to power plants worldwide then they could have a profound effect in producing clean hydrogen which could be a major breakthrough in the transport industry.
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