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FIRST OPERATING RESULTS OF A DYNAMIC GAS BEARING TURBINE IN AN INDUSTRIAL HYDROGEN LIQUEFIER

S. Bischoff and L. Decker Citation: AIP Conf. Proc. 1218, 887 (2010); doi: 10.1063/1.3422445 View online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.3422445 View Table of Contents: http://proceedings.aip.org/dbt/dbt.jsp?KEY=APCPCS&Volume=1218&Issue=1 Published by the American Institute of Physics.

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FIRST OPERATING RESULTS OF A DYNAMIC GAS BEARING TURBINE IN AN INDUSTRIAL HYDROGEN LIQUEFIER

S. Bischoff, L. Decker Linde Kryotechnik AG Pfungen, CH-8042, Switzerland

ABSTRACT Hydrogen has been brought into focus of industry and public since fossil fuels are depleting and costs are increasing dramatically. Beside these issues new high-tech processes in the industry are in need for hydrogen at ultra pure quality. To achieve these requirements and for efficient transportation, hydrogen is liquefied in industrial plants. Linde Gas has commissioned a new 5.5 TPD Hydrogen liquefier in Leuna, Germany, which has been engineered and supplied by Linde Kryotechnik. One of the four expansion turbines installed in the liquefaction process is equipped with dynamic gas bearings. Several design features and operational characteristics of this application will be discussed. The presentation will include results of efficiency and operational reliability that have been determined from performance tests. The advantages of the Linde dynamic gas bearing turbine for future use in hydrogen liquefaction plants will be shown. KEYWORDS: Hydrogen, liquefier, dynamic gas bearing, turbine, expander INTRODUCTION - TURBINE TECHNOLOGY Linde is a world leader in designing and manufacturing of industrial cryogenic plants. One reason for this unique position is the availability of the highly efficient and very reliable turbo expanders being developed by the Linde Kryotechnik. Linde's entry into Helium liquefaction business by using turbines started in the mid CREDIT LINE (BELOW) TO turbines were used. In the PAGE OF EACH 1950's. At this time oil bearing BE INSERTED ON THE FIRSTnext step the in-house PAPER turbines with dynamic gas bearings conquered 6875, developed TGL typeEXCEPT FOR ARTICLES ON pp. 1825, 2633, the market in 1972. 121127, 136142, 207214, 246253, 355362, 388395, 499 new plant concepts The highly successful and powerful TGL made it possible to realize 506, 507514, 609614, and boosted the 780787, 796803, 804811, 905912, realized the 13011308, of the plant performance in general. Linde 12911300, advantages
13691376, 15811592, 15931600, and 16471651

CP1218, Advances in Cryogenic Engineering: Transactions of the Cryogenic Engineering Conference - CEC, Vol. 55, edited by J. G. Weisend II 2010 American Institute of Physics 0-7354-0761-9/10/$30.00

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dynamic gas bearing design compared to the existing bearing systems and focused on the further development of dynamic gas bearings. In 2000, Linde Kryotechnik started a development program to replace the TGL turbine type based on dynamic gas bearings with a new turbine generation for the further power enhancement of the Helium plants. Equipped with 2.5 times stronger axial bearings the new turbine generation TED was launched to the market in 2003. In 2005 the TGL was entirely replaced by the TED. Because of the TED success the ambitions emerged to operate with the TED in Hydrogen and potentially to replace the oil bearing turbine type that was until then the choice for Hydrogen applications with Hydrogen Claude cycle. Linde develops and manufactures small and medium sized Hydrogen liquefiers based on the Helium Brayton cycle cooling down the Hydrogen feed stream in catalyst filled heat exchangers. For these plants Linde applies the TED type turbines that operate in a Helium cycle. Large-scale Hydrogen liquefiers are designed as Claude cycle using Hydrogen also as a cooling recycle gas. These liquefiers were operated up to now with oil bearing turbines (OBT). Oil Bearing Turbines (OBT) The oil bearing turbines are supplied by an oil supply system (OSS) to provide oil pressure for the upper journal bearing, the lower combined journal and axial bearing, and the brake. The oil mixes with a small stream of seal gas which is taken through the labyrinth from the expanding process gas stream. Oil and seal gas are afterwards separated and the gas must be cleaned thoroughly before it is led back to the suction side of the cycle compressor. Oil bearing turbines are normally built into the cold box with the cold end up to prevent gravity driven flow of oil into the cold part of the housing. The oil system has further to provide lubrication to the turbines in case of power failure, this to assure safe shut-down of these machines. Linde has installed 60 oil bearing turbines worldwide. In the Hydrogen liquefier world that bearing technology is established. It is common and well proved. The disadvantages are the losses because of the sealing gas taken from the process line, limitations regarding reliability, the higher investments and the extensive maintenance for the complex oil supply system. Static Gas Bearing Turbines The option to use static gas bearing turbines was never seriously considered for an application by Linde. Turbines with static gas bearings - as shown in the middle of FIGURE 1 - need a supply of bearing gas from the cycle compressor. This amount of gas flow is not available anymore for the cycle itself. To prevent this warm auxiliary gas from entering the cold process, a small leakage stream along the rotor from the cold to the warm part is hard to avoid. This stream represents a loss to the cycle, too. To keep the amount of bearing and leakage gas within tolerable limits, an automatic control system is needed. Additional high pressure gas storage tanks are required to ensure a safe run out in case of an emergency shut down. Because of these disadvantages the Linde Kryotechnik did not pursue any activities for developing such kind of systems and concentrated on the dynamic gas bearing turbines.

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Oil Bearing

Static Gas Bearing


To Compressor

Turbine

Dynamic Gas Bearing

Bearing Gas Oil Sealing Gas Turbine

Turbine To Compressor

FIGURE 1. Illustration of different bearing systems for cryogenic expansion turbines

Dynamic Gas Bearing Turbines (TGL/TED) The turbine with dynamic gas bearings - as shown on the right-hand side of FIGURE 1 - does not need bearing gas from the cycle compressor. A leakage stream will not occur as the pressure is in equilibrium. Gas circulates in the bearing housing in a closed loop and does not affect the process stream in any way. The thrust capacity is maintained even in case of an emergency shutdown and guarantees a intrinsic safe stop of these turbines. More than 1000 TGL units are already installed worldwide. With the development and market launch of the TED turbine these turbines became the top performer in the product portfolio of the Linde Kryotechnik. Today more than 90 TED units are already in operation. The main advantages of the TED compared to the other bearing systems are Compact design No need of OSS No emergency facilities needed like additional buffers for bearing supply No further equipment or facilities needed Significantly increased efficiency because of state of the art TED turbine technology See reference sample 1 Highest reliability; 350,000 hours MTBF Excellent failsafe running functions Maintenance-free

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Environment-friendly o no additional operating medium e.g. oil o no additional power consumption of the OSS

A turbine program module permanently calculates the operating point of turbine and controls the turbine valve to match the optimal turbine speed number resulting in highest turbine efficiency. In addition this module ensures the safe turbine operation within the bearing thrust limitations TED FOR HYDROGEN AND ITS FIRST APPLICATION The advantages and success of the TED afforded the idea to design a Hydrogen turbine with dynamic gas bearings. The approach was to develop a turbine that should operate in the new 5.5 TPD Hydrogen liquefier in Leuna, Germany, FIGURE 2. This liquefier class is equipped with three OBT in a turbine string. The operating owner of the Hydrogen liquefier in Leuna made it possible to install a TED in parallel to the 1st OBT. Before being able to run a Hydrogen TED type turbine the following main obstacles had to be overcome. These were the confirmation of the bearing system functionality under Hydrogen atmosphere, a proven aerodynamic design of the turbine and the ATEX approval. The ATEX are risk directives of the European Union that the turbine is allowed to operate with an explosive atmosphere. Dynamic Gas Bearing in Hydrogen The functionality of the TED dynamic gas bearing system with Hydrogen had to be confirmed. The dynamic viscosity of Hydrogen is with 8.7610-6 Pa-s compared to Helium 1910-6 Pa-s more than 50% lower. That has an impact on the capability of the dynamic gas bearing system. Because of the complexity of the flow effects and the characteristics of the bearing system the design had to be validated by testing with Hydrogen.

FIGURE 2. 5.5 TPD Hydrogen liquefier in Leuna

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For that two test sessions were accomplished using a small test rig being installed close to a big steam reformer. The first session was done in 2006 with the smaller turbines TED16 (Pmax 2.5 kW) and TED22 (Pmax 10.0 kW), to receive first results. In a second session in 2007 the tests were repeated with the medium size turbines TED32 (Pmax 25 kW) and the big size TED45 (Pmax 50 kW). The results of these tests were taken into account by adjusting the design of dynamic gas bearings and for calibration of the bearing thrust calculation model, FIGURE 3. Based on the theory, the axial thrust capability of the TED in Hydrogen is under predicted. In addition the thrust capability is obviously not only depending from the turbine speed number. The reason for that mismatch is seen in the indeterminate transition from laminar to turbulence flow in the complex dynamic gas bearing geometry. Numerical simulations and further tests will help to explain that effect. Aerodynamic Design The aerodynamic design of the Leuna turbine is mainly based on the design criteria that are used for the Linde Helium turbines. In the prototype version the performance prediction was done with a meanline model that was calibrated for Helium turbines. The chosen turbine wheel design is adapted to follow a conservative non-optimized design approach (sufficient blade numbers, increased blade thickness e.g.) and to fulfill the plant owners requirements for performance, mechanical integrity and reliability. In general those constraints would open at least the possibilities for further design improvements.
FAX FTurbine = FBrake FRotor + + +

120 100 FAX Theory / N, FAX Test / N 80 60 40


FAX Theory Theory

30 25 20 15 10
FAX Test Test (FAX Test- FAX Theory) / FAX Theory / % % (FAX Test - FAX Theory) / FAX Theory /

20 0 0

0 1000 2000 3000 4000 NTU Turbine Speed Number / rps

FIGURE 3. TED22 type turbine test run with Hydrogen; axial thrust depending on speed number, turbine scheme with dynamic gas bearings

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(FAX Test - FAX Theory) / FAX Theory / %

Based on the turbine specification and the derived design point a wheel tip speed of 420 m/s had to be realized, TABLE 1. Therefore the TED45 type turbine was chosen to meet the requirements. ATEX certification ATEX assessments were conducted for the certification of the TED type turbine. Consequential design adjustments were necessary in order to exclude any possible ignition sources. TURBINE COMMISSIONING AND EFFICIENCY The TED45 was commissioned mid of 2008 within one week including the adaption and implementation of the turbine control program. Since the TED45 is installed in parallel to the 1st OBT, the 1st OBT had to be shut down. When the Leuna plant is operating in the TED mode, the TED45, 2nd OBT and 3rd OBT are running together in one turbine string. TED45 efficiency Extensive turbine performance measurements followed at the end of 2008, FIGURE 4. The chart shows the efficiency of different operational points depended from the reduced rotational turbine speed NTU red. The reduced speed NTU red is the ratio of rotational speed NTU and the design speed NTU Design, equitation (1).
N TU red =
TABLE 1. Turbine Design Point TED turbine specification: Inlet pressure Outlet Pressure Inlet Temperature Massflow Process Power Demands: Process efficiency Massflow mismatch ETA m > 85 <5 % % P0 P3 T0 m 2.00 1.25 65 500 40 MPa MPa K g/s kW

N TU N TU Design

(1)

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0.90

Reduced Speed Design Point 85% Measured 100% Measured

Isentropic Stage Efficiency / -

0.85

105% Measured 85% Theory 90% Theory 95% Theory

0.80

100% Theory 105% Theory

0.75 1.3 1.5 1.8 2.0 Stage Pressure Ratio / FIGURE 4. TED45 performance with Hydrogen, isentropic stage efficiency depending on stage pressure ratio and reduced speed

The predicted turbine efficiency is exceeded by the TED45. The theoretical design disadvantages are overrated by the design model. This fact shows the potential for further aerodynamic and performance improvements. The design possibilities according to the existing TED design criteria's are far from being utilized to its full potential. The mass flow match by an accuracy of <5% was missed. The effective measured mass flow was 6% higher than the calculated mass. However, this mass flow mismatch is low considering the usage of a design tool that is non-adapted to Hydrogen. Just by running the TED45 instead of the 1st OBT, the plant liquefaction rate is increased by more than 3.5% (additional plant feed flow consumption). The mass flow mismatch is deducted from this value. This impressive production increase shows the potential of the powerful TED with a smart utilisation of the provided process exergy.
FIGURE 5. TED45 on the coldbox of the Leuna liquefier

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The TED45 is in operation in the Leuna plant for more than 8000h by now. The TED shows the same unproblematic operational behavior well known from Linde's Helium turbines. The cold start of the turbine is in any case without any issues. The shut down and restart of the TED45 does not need special features or procedures. All operational functions are automatically controlled by the DCS. SUMMARY The TED type turbine is approved for operation in the Linde Hydrogen plants. The TED type meets all requirements and even exceeds them. The installed Leuna TED45 is operating without any issues and will deliver further information for long term operation. Linde Kryotechnik will focus its Hydrogen plant design on the usage of the TED type turbines to improve significantly the liquifaction performance.

GLOSSARY TED turbine expander dynamic gas bearing TGL Turbinen Expander Dynamische Gaslagerung OBT oil bearing turbine OSS oil supply system DCS digital control system NOTATION ETA FAX FTurbine FBrake FRotor NTU NTU Design NTU red PMax REFERENCES
1. 2. 3. D. Cretegny et al.: Efficiency Improvement of small gas bearing turbines - impact on standard helium liquefier performance, Cryogenic Engineering Conference - CEC, Vol. 49, 2004, pp. 272-278 H. Bloch, C. Soares: Turboexpanders and Process Applications, ISBN 0-88415-509-9, Gulf Professional Publishing an imprint of Butterworth-Heinemann, 2001 M. Bracha et al.: Large-Scale Hydrogen Liquefaction in Germany, Int. Journal of Hydrogen Energy Vol 19, No.1, 1994, pp. 53-59

process efficiency resulting axial force axial force, turbine wheel axial force, impeller of the brake compressor axial force due to rotor gravity rotational speed design speed reduced rotational turbine speed maximal turbine process power

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