7HA.02 Goes for Gold with Intense Testing Regimen
August 29, 2016
The Summer Olympics may be over for the next four years, but for one special HA gas turbine, the ultimate test of its capabilities is just beginning. Sitting atop a metal railroad car, the 400-ton 7HA.02 gas turbine fastens its seatbelts for the short, but very important, journey from GE’s manufacturing facility in Greenville, South Carolina, to the world’s most comprehensive testing facility just a few hundred yards away.
At Test Stand 7 the 7HA.02 will undergo full-speed, full-load testing as part of a custom drive train. Think of it like competing in Olympic trials to qualify for the Olympics. As any aspiring athlete knows, you must train hard, giving it everything you’ve got to be well prepared for the race—or, in this case, test—of your life.
As illustrated below, this custom drive train is comprised of: the 7HA.02, a compressor validation rig (CVR), a gearbox, a torque converter, and starting motors. Operationally, Test Stand 7 can simulate scenarios the gas turbine may experience while in the field. Roughly 3,900 measuring instruments and sensors will be installed on the turbine, and another 2,300 on the CVR; these devices will collect data at a rate up to 1/50,000th of a second. Producing nearly 200 terabytes of data over the course of the tests—that’s about one-third of the content shared on Facebook every day*. This data will be monitored in real-time by GE test captains, and then fully analyzed off-line to validate the 7HA.02 design.
The CVR plays a very special role. First, it absorbs the gas turbine’s energy, creating hot compressed air instead of generating electricity like a generator. Another benefit is, unlike a generator, the CVR works at all frequencies. This means the CVR is a lot like the 7HA.02’s coach, capable of presenting situations that challenge the unit in various environments to prepare it for its biggest test.
For instance, during testing its the CVR that simulates how the turbine will behave in a cold environment such as northern Canada or a very hot environment like Saudi Arabia. Since this is such an important role, you’d want the best coach, right? This week, the CVR will be tested on breakaway torque, speed control, vibration, and aeromechanics to ensure it is qualified to push this rising HA star to its limits. Once the CVR passes these tests (with flying colors!) it will be ready to take on the very important task of coaching the 7HA.02.
Once the test begins, the gas turbine will experience months of the most rigorous and comprehensive off-grid full-speed, full-load testing of its life—each one its own Olympic trial—getting the 7HA.02 technology ready to run in the ultimate show, the Olympic Games. Or, in this case, the power plant that will light up millions of lives.