GE ups 9HA specs following completion of validation testing

Turbomachinery International just visited GE Power & Water’s Greenville campus which is dedicated to the development and manufacture of heavy-duty gas turbines. The big news was the result of validation testing on the 9HA.01 gas turbine. After over 200 hours in the test stand and 40 fired starts, GE has increased the specs for its HA product range.

“Validation exceeded our expectations,” said Guy DeLeonardo, Product Manager for Power Generation Products. “Therefore, we have increased our combined-cycle efficiency ratings for our HA series turbines by about a half point. For example, the 7HA.02 which had a simple-cycle net output of 330 MW and 61.2% combined-cycle efficiency last year is now rated at 337 MW simple cycle and 61.9% combined-cycle efficiency in a 2x1 multi-shaft configuration.”

GE bills its validation stand as the world’s largest and most powerful variable speed, variable load, non-grid connected gas turbine test facility. This $200 million building conducts off-grid testing to validate GE’s gas turbines at and above full load conditions. Capable of replicating a grid environment at full capacity, it tests 50 and 60 Hz gas turbines by taking them well beyond normal power plant conditions. The idea is to ensure that the machine can withstand normal as well as abnormal conditions.

The test space comprises 42,000 square feet and can support up to 150 engineers. They have to deal with inputs of more than 8,000 data streams captured continuously during testing from a network of sensors and instruments. That adds up to 5 terabytes of data collected during recent testing of the 9HA.01. Instead of generating electricity, the 9HA.01 exhales hot air at a speed of 1,100 mph. So much natural gas is consumed during these tests that the local gas pipeline infrastructure can’t accommodate it. Therefore GE has erected an LNG plant on the campus as a means of storing the necessary gas onsite.

“One unit running for 200 hours in the test facility is more valuable than 500 units in the field running for a year,” said DeLeonardo. GE is planning to test further HA turbines across its 50Hz and 60Hz line. Over 800 test hours are schedules for these machines over the next two years.

The next port of call on the tour was the combustion lab consisting of 10 single-can test stands to evaluate GE combustors. It can run up to eight fired tests per week, replicating real world fuel compositions at full flow conditions to determine the operability and fuel flexibility envelope of the combustor. This test area can do flow testing, pint testing and lifecycle testing.

Advanced manufacturing

The tour moved on to the combustion manufacturing building where GE has 5 additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) machines set up to produce metal parts via laser printing. While they are mostly used in prototyping, some are trickling into production.

One part of the combustion shop floor was under construction. This is earmarked for an Advanced Manufacturing wing that will serve as an incubator for innovative manufacturing process development and rapid prototyping for wind turbines, heavy-duty gas turbines, distributed power gas engines, nuclear power services and water purification.

The final stop on the tour was the vast GE manufacturing floor. As well as 7E and 7F turbines, the company has the first HA models coming off the line. According to DeLeonardo, 15 HA units have been sold to date, with another 30 more selected by customers and in development. 24 will be shipped by the end of next year. He noted that the HA can accommodate light crude and lean methane, as well as natural gas. The same building also houses parts repair, parts manufacturing, and coatings.

Overall, the Greenville site employs more than 3,000 people and encompasses 413 acres with 1,550,000 square feet of manufacturing space, comprising the world’s largest gas turbine plant. In addition to the manufacturing facility, the site is home to the headquarters of Power & Water Engineering, Power Generation Engineering, and Renewables Engineering.