Hidden Costs and Risks: Improving Bearing Reliability and Plant Safety on Power Turbines

Fluid Sealing

Hidden Costs and Risks: Improving Bearing Reliability and Plant Safety on Power Turbines

Turbines are the centerpiece and most critical of all rotating equipment in any power generating facility converting steam or combustion energy to rotating mechanical energy.  To support reliable operation at high rotational speeds, power turbines typically employ tilt pad or fluid film bearing designs with complex high pressure lubrication systems.  Retention of bearing lubricant is crucial to both reliable turbine operation and overall plant safety.

Between 1989 and 2004 FM Global Insurance Corporation logged 17 turbine fires related to lubrication loss in various industries.  The economic impact of these incidents totaled more than $400 million (US) in property damage with an average cost of $24 million US Dollars and an average downtime of 24 weeks per incident.

Beyond the potential for catastrophic equipment failure and property damage, personal safety must also be considered.  Lubricant leakage significantly increases the potential for lost time injuries attributable to slips, trips, and falls.  According to OSHA, slips, trips, and falls constitute a majority of general industry accidents, and account for 15% of all accidental deaths, second only to motor vehicle fatalities.

Where traditionally, one would turn to a contact sealing device such as a lip seal or mechanical face seal, the surface speeds encountered on these rotating shafts exceed the frictional speed ratings of almost any contact oriented sealing device.  As such, non-contacting sealing technologies should be employed to remedy this issue.  Where traditional labyrinth style stator only designs are often the OEM standard, they often fall short functionally, requiring annual service intervals for bearings.

On December 6th, 2017, Inpro/Seal® made a presentation at POWER-GEN that discussed the specific sealing device improvements which have consistently yielded 4 or more leak-free years between maintenance intervals at various plants around the world. This presentation also discussed effective sealing technology that increases equipment reliability, reduces turbine downtime, and improves plant safety.

Download the Technical Presentation – Hidden Costs and Risks: Improving Bearing Reliability and Plant Safety on Power Turbines


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