POWER [December, 15 2006]

Cover Stories

The long and short of last-stage blades

The use of longer steam turbine last-stage blades (LSBs) reduces the number of low-pressure casings and, thus, a turbine's total installed cost. In many cases longer blades extract more energy from low-pressure steam before it enters the condenser and improve a turbine's overall thermodynamic efficiency. But creating longer blades requires forsaking conventional design techniques for complex aerodynamic analysis of stationary vanes and rotating blades. Has the market push for longer LSBs exceeded current technology limits? Does the industry conduct proper analysis to determine when using longer blades is beneficial or not?

Features

DOE project converts weapons-grade uranium to fuel for Browns Ferry

An offshoot of the 1993 Megatons to Megawatts nonproliferation program, the Blended Low-Enriched Uranium (BLEU) project has modified and developed new fabrication processes for converting surplus weapons-grade uranium materials into nuclear fuel for TVA's Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant. This innovative public/private venture continues to deplete nuclear arsenal stockpiles while reducing storage, security, and disposal costs to U.S. taxpayers.

Osmotic power from the ocean

In chemistry, osmosis refers to the movement of water molecules through a selective membrane from an area of low solute concentration to an area of high solute concentration, creating a pressure gradient. Researchers have recently demonstrated that exploiting this natural phenomenon could produce useful amounts of electrical power.

The five deadly sins of project management

IT project engineering skills aren't taught in college; they're developed through on-the-job training with seasoned mentors. Begin honing your project management skills by firmly grasping the fundamentals presented in this article.

Unique challenges face wind power developers, buyers

Utility resource planners are used to viewing new generation in terms of firm, dispatchable capacity. Dispatching a renewable resource such as wind requires a different perspective. Wind capacity can serve as a hedge against fossil fuel price risks and perhaps future emissions restrictions, but it requires a much more structured planning horizon. Integrating wind farms into their portfolios may be the most difficult challenge utilities face today.

Wind farmers: Heed the lessons of the merchant gas-power business

The wind energy business is beginning to look as frenetic as the merchant gas-fired power business in the late 1990s—with some critical differences. If the 10 issues listed here are addressed soon, wind power may avoid a crash and burn similar to the one that beset the gas turbine business.

Departments

Commentary

A new vision for energy efficiency

The U.S. electric utility industry has long encouraged its customers to get more value from their electricity dollar. Today, the industry—facing volatile costs and mounting concerns about the environment—is coming…

New Products

Legal & Regulatory

Renewable power: Environmental or political product?

  What's in a name? Plenty, if the word is "renewable." Intuitively, most people outside the energy industry consider hydroelectric power "renewable." The dictionary defines the word as follows: "capable…

Focus on O&M

Focus on O&M (Nov/Dec 2006)

Safeguarding coal-handling assets;
Giant wind turbine hard to bear

Global Monitor

Global Monitor (Nov/Dec 2006)

Renewables require rethinking just about everything/Torque-splitting drive train improves wind turbine reliability/Waste gas–burning engines reach milestone/Hybrid power plant targets pipeline losses/Power from paint/Gulf Coast Power Association conference report/Pat Wood talks about the challenges facing ERCOT


Readers talk back and Correction (Nov/Dec 2006)

Fireproofing switchyards From an insurance carrier's perspective, we fully condone the use of on-line condition monitoring for large, critical transformers ("Monitoring key gases in insulating oil keeps transformers healthy," POWER,…

Speaking of Power

Wind power: Disruptive or not?

Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen coined the term "disruptive technology" in his best-selling 1997 book, The Innovator's Dilemma. According to Christensen, a disruptive technology unseats a dominant technology by…

GBR Reports