Siemens has achieved a design breakthrough by finishing its first full-load engine tests for gas turbine blades completely produced using Additive Manufacturing (AM) 3-D printing technology.
The AM turbine blades are made out of a powder of high performing polycrystalline nickel superalloy, allowing them to endure high pressure, hot temperatures and the rotational forces of the turbine’s high speed operation. At full load each of these turbine blades is travelling at 13,000RPM (over 1,600 km/h at the blade tip), carrying 11 tons or equivalent to a fully loaded London bus, is surrounded by gas at 1,250 °C and cooled by air at over 400 °C. The advanced blade design tested in Lincoln provides improved cooling features that can increase overall turbine efficiency.
The project team used blades manufactured at its 3D printing facility at Materials Solutions, the newly acquired company in Worcester, UK. Materials Solutions specializes in high performance parts for high temperature applications in turbomachinery where accuracy, surface finish and the materials quality is critical to ensure operational performance of the parts in service. The tests were conducted at the Siemens testing facility in the industrial gas turbine factory in Lincoln, UK.
“This is a breakthrough success for the use of Additive Manufacturing in the power generation field, which is one of the most challenging applications for this technology,” said Willi Meixner, CEO of the Siemens Power and Gas Division. “Additive Manufacturing is one of our main pillars in our digitalization strategy. The successful tests were the result of a dedicated international project team with contributions from Siemens engineers in Finspång, Lincoln and Berlin together with experts from Materials Solutions. In just 18 months they completed the entire chain from component design and AM material development to new methods for lifing simulations and quality controls. With our combined know-how in 3D printing, we will continue to drive the technological development and application in this field,” added Meixner.
The blades were installed in a Siemens SGT-400 industrial gas turbine with a capacity of 13MW.
Meanwhile, Siemens also opened a new gas turbine blades plant in China . The plant, Siemens Gas Turbine Components (Jiangsu) Co., Ltd., located in Yinxing economic development zone, is manufacturing gas turbine hot gas path parts, including turbine blades and vanes for Siemens’ advanced gas turbines.
“The setting-up of this new facility is part of the company’s global strategy of reinforcing the local presence of high-efficient gas power generation solutions in China,” said Theo Maas, CEO of Large Gas Turbines & Generators, Power & Gas Division, Siemens AG.
China’s economic and social demand for energy keeps growing and the country is also striving for cleaner and sustainable energy supply. China’s 13th Five Year Plan has set a clear goal for increasing the share of gas-fired power generation with more than 110GW installation by 2020, which takes up over 5 percent of the country’s total capacity.
“We strongly believe in the demand for heavy duty gas turbines – globally and especially in China – and Siemens commits to supporting continuously China’s energy mix optimization and realizing its sustainable energy targets in the long run,” said Maas.