3D printing technology is moving deeper and deeper. It has now taken its place inside power plants where it is helping utility companies generate more electricity and at the same time reduce emissions. According to an official release by GE, earlier, it used to take the company a decade to move the efficiency of its turbines up a single percentage point. However, now 3D printed components are allowing the company to increase efficiency of their turbines in just a matter of years.
All this has become a reality because 3D printing technology has made it possible for designers to manufacture, test, tweak and print design quickly. It has also made possible mass production of expensive, complex efficiency-boosting shapes easier and cheaper for designers.
3D printed fuel nozzles are already being used in GE’s latest HA-class turbines. These nozzles have allowed the company to increase efficiency to 64 percent. Engineers at GE are now using the 3D printing technology to increase the efficiency of the company’s HA turbines even higher or to 65 percent. Increasing the efficiency is expected to help large gas-fired power plants save around $50million in fuel costs over the life cycle.
Engineers at GE had thought of different options when designing the nozzle but settled on using 3D printing because it allowed the company to create a nozzle that allowed the company to achieve hotter, shorter combustion cycles, which require less fuel and produce fewer emissions thereby helping in reducing costs and saving the environment from harmful gases.
It is not the first time that GE has made use of 3D printed components; GE Aviation already uses 3D printed fuel nozzles for jet engines. The company expects growth for 3D printed parts and expects advancements to take place in available materials, speed of production and part durability that will allow manufacturing of products with greater efficiencies and fewer emissions.