Control valves are one of the key steam turbine components that guarantee operational safety in a power plant.

There are two aerodynamic aspects, which are the current focus for the development of Alstom’s valves. One is the reduction of the aerodynamic loss to increase the efficiency of the power plant. The other is operational flexibility, which is increasingly demanded to react faster to load requirements from the electric grid. This is becoming more important as power generation becomes increasingly decentralized, with a growing contribution from renewable energy sources. For this reason, a fast control loop is required for valve operation, which depends on an accurate linearization of the valve characteristic.

In this paper the flow fields in an existing steam control valve have been analysed and subsequently optimized using CFD techniques. The approach specifically designed for drilled strainers is further illustrated. Following the validation of the baseline design with model testing, an improved diffuser has been designed using CFD analysis and the resulting performance benefit has been confirmed with further testing.

The required grid frequency support requires control valve throttling. For this reason, an accurate prediction of the linearization table is extremely important to support the required response time limits. Further numerical work has been carried out with various opening positions of the valve, leading to an improved valve linearization characteristic. It is demonstrated that the numerical prediction of the linearization curve agrees very well with data obtained from operating power plants.

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