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Components of a steam turbine


Steam turbine is a key component in electricity generation and industrial applications.


A steam turbine is the heart of the system. The high-pressure steam enters the turbine and expands, causing the rotor to spin. This rotation generates mechanical work, which can drive a generator, pump, or other machinery… It consists of several key components, each with a specific role in the operation of the turbine. 


Steam chest and the casing: connected to the higher-pressure steam supply line and the low-pressure steam exhaust line respectively. The steam chest connected to the casing houses the governor valve and the overspeed trip valve. The casing contains the rotor and nozzles.

Rotor: Consists of shaft and disk assemblies with buckets. Firstly, the shaft extends beyond the casing through the bearing cases. Secondly, one end of the shaft is used for coupling to the driven pump. Finally, the other end of the shaft serves the speed governor and the overspeed trip system.

The bearing cases: Support the rotor and assemble the casing and steam chest. The bearing cases contain the journal bearings and the rotating oil seals. Detailly, it can prevent outward oil leakage and the entrance of water, dust, and steam. The steam end bearing case contains the rotor positioning bearing and the rotating components of the overspeed trip system. Additionally, an extension of the steam end-bearing housing encloses the rotating components of the speed–governor system.

Casing sealing glands: Seal the casing and the shaft. Thus, spring-backed segmental carbon rings are used for this and supplemented by a spring-backed labyrinth section for higher exhaust steam.

Labyrinth seal: A Labyrinth reduces leakage from the high-pressure to the low-pressure side by allowing a small amount of leakage. The clearance between the labyrinth and shaft is kept at the minimum possible. Then, gases enter the narrow passage between the shaft and labyrinth and expand.

Carbon ring seals: Consists of carbon ring segments and these segments are held together by retaining spring. Anti rotation stops fit in the notches in the bottom half interstage diagrams (casing) and carbon rings prevent the rotation.

Turning Gears: Large turbines are equipped with turning gears to rotate the rotors slowly during warm-up, and cool-off. In order to maintain the shaft or rotor at an approximately uniform temperature circumferentially, so as to maintain straightness and preserve the balance.

Generator:  In power generation, the turbine’s mechanical energy turns a generator, converting it into electrical energy for the grid or local use.

Condenser: After passing through the turbine, the steam exits at a lower pressure and temperature. After that, the condenser is used to cool and condense the exhaust steam back into liquid water. Consists of spring-opposed rotating weights, a steam valve, and an interconnecting linkage or servo motor system.

Steam Reheater (if applicable): In some steam turbine systems, a steam reheater to reheat the steam. Then it passes through the initial stages of the turbine. Therefore, it can increase the efficiency of the system.

Lubrication System: Steam turbines require lubrication to minimize friction and wear on rotating components. Additionally, an oil lubrication system ensures smooth operation and prolongs the life of the turbine.

Bearings and Seals: Bearings support the rotor, enabling it to spin freely, while seals actively prevent steam leaks in various parts of the turbine system.


Over-speed trip system: The trip mechanism acts independently of the governor-controlled system and closes the trip valve to stop the steam from reaching the turbine when overspeed conditions. It consists of a spring-loaded pin or weight mounted in the turbine shaft, a quick-closing valve that is separate from the governor valve, and an interconnecting linkage. Setting over-speed governors to trip at 10 percent over normal speed actuates a quick-closing stop valve to shut off the steam supply to the turbine.

Governor: The governor is a control system that regulates the speed of the turbine by adjusting the flow of steam to the turbine. Moreover, it ensures that the turbine operates at a constant speed or within a specified speed range, which is crucial for grid stability (in the case of electricity generation).

Sentinel valve: This is a warning device located on the top of the exhaust end turbine casing, indicating excessive turbine exhaust end casing pressure. In the event, the casing pressure exceeds a predetermined setting above the normal operating pressure. Then the valve releases a small amount of visible steam into the atmosphere, causing an audible sound. This valve will not serve as a relief valve.

Auxiliary steam valves: Using auxiliary steam valves to achieve more efficient operation with varying load or steam conditions. The valves are provided in the steam passageway (in the bottom half of the steam end turbine casing) between the steam chest and nozzle ring. 

Instrumentation and Control Systems: Using sophisticated control systems and instrumentation to monitor and control various process parameters to ensure safe and efficient turbine operation.

Safety Systems: Steam turbine systems incorporate safety systems, including overspeed protection, pressure relief valves, and emergency shutdown mechanisms. These safeguards prevent catastrophic failures and protect people and equipment.


These components of a steam turbine work together to harness the energy of high-pressure steam and convert it into useful mechanical or electrical power. Besides, steam turbine systems find extensive use in power plants, industrial processes, and marine propulsion systems due to their efficiency and reliability. However, the specific configuration and size of the components of a steam turbine can vary depending on the application and the capacity of the turbine system.


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