Siemens has completed its first full load engine tests for gas turbine blades produced entirely using Additive Manufacturing technology. Components were tested at 13,000 rpm and temperatures beyond 1,250°C, with the company successfully validating multiple AM turbine blades of conventional blade design at full engine conditions.
The project team used blades manufactured at its recently acquired Materials Solutions facility in Worcester, UK. Materials Solutions specialises 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.
Tests were conducted at the Siemens testing facility in the industrial gas turbine factory in Lincoln, UK. The company also tested a new blade design with a completely revised and improved internal cooling geometry manufactured using AM technology.
“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,” stated Willi Meixner, CEO of the Siemens Power and Gas Division.
“Additive Manufacturing is one of our main pillars in our digitalisation 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 13 MW. 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 over 1,600 km/h, carrying 11 tons, 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 efficiency of the Siemens gas turbines.
Siemens extensively uses AM technology for rapid prototyping, but has already introduced serial production solutions for components in the gas turbines’ compressor and combustion system. The first AM component for a Siemens heavy-duty gas turbine has been in commercial operation since July 2016.