TÜV SÜD supported Mannheim's large-scale power station during an innovation project aimed at improving plant efficiency
At present Europe's coal-fired power stations operate at efficiency levels between 35 and 40 per cent. Experts at the large-scale power station in Mannheim (Grosskraftwerk Mannheim, GKM) are currently working on further improving plant efficiency by raising operating temperatures. TÜV SÜD's plant professionals have accompanied the project as expert partners. "We appreciate TÜV SÜD's innovative approach, flexibility and openness to new ideas", says Dr Karl-Heinz Czychon, Chief Technical Officer of Grosskraftwerk Mannheim AG.
In a coal-fired power station, steam at a temperature of around 530°C drives a turbine, thus generating electricity. To improve the efficiency of coal-fired power stations, in future plant experts aim to operate power stations at higher temperatures and pressures. "Higher efficiency at reasonable investments is achievable, and is an important step towards more climate-friendly energy generation", says Hans Christian Schröder, Head of Power Station and Energy Services at TÜV SÜD Industrie Service.
Improved energy efficiency in two steps:
- Improving thermal efficiency from its present level of roughly 40 per cent to around 50 per cent by raising the operating temperature to over 700°C.
This approach requires innovative materials which are exposed to enormous stresses: pipes glow red-hot and the pressure inside the pipes rises to over 200 bar – one hundred times higher than in a residential boiler.
- Optimizing the control strategy to align the energy (electricity and district heating) fed into the distribution network more closely to energy demands.
For this purpose, the control systems of all energy generators connected within a network will be modernized to fulfil the requirements of modern network operation.
Innovative solutions for materials and control systems
To face these special challenges, we need innovative material solutions and integrated control structures. In the production of new components, this refers to aspects including quality assurance during production and test plans. Every single step must be aligned meticulously to future operational requirements. To ensure a reliable set of data, the GKM worked with TÜV SÜD and other partners to launch the »725°C High-Temperature Material Test Track« innovation project. Launched in 2008 and concluding in 2015, i.e. a period of only a few years, the test simulates the stresses to which the materials are normally exposed over a 40-year service life. Initial results have already provided important building blocks for the planning and future implementation of improved plant efficiency.
Dr Karl-Heinz Czychon affirms, "In TÜV SÜD we have found a partner that contributes broad and differentiated know-how throughout all fields of process and power-plant engineering. So far, TÜV SÜD's comprehensive support has proved invaluable for the success of our innovative materials project."