Thermal power generation uses coal for the production of electrical energy. It has been the world’s primary energy source for many decades. However, this form of energy generation generates pollutants. The primary pollutants released from a power plant are oxides of sulfur, nitrogen, fly ash etc. These oxides harm the environment by causing global temperatures to increase. Despite concerted efforts to replace coal-based power, coal power continues to be a significant source of electricity for the world.
Processes And Equipment Used In A Thermal Power Plant
Fuel Storage Units
Large fuel storage units safely store coal until it goes to the boiler to produce energy. These units are crucial as they ensure a ready supply to keep the power plant running. Also, safe storage is essential in these units. If the coal gets wet, it creates several problems. Wet coal, when pulverized, creates a slurry. Wet coal might also damage conveyor belts. Moreover, most coal does not burn well. So the overall efficiency of the power plant goes down.
Boilers And Heat Exchangers
Boilers are large enclosed chambers made up of alloys like steel. The crushed coal is brought to the boilers and is burnt to generate heat energy. The boiler creates electricity by using the heat produced from burning coal. The process of steam generation produces flue gas. The flue gas has sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide etc. The heated flue gas, if allowed to escape, will lead to pollution and reduce the efficiency of the operation. Hence heat exchangers are used. The heat from the flue gas is utilized to preheat the water. Preheated water forms steam quickly.
PTFE tubes are used to make heat exchangers because they are chemically inert and can stay stable at very high temperatures. A PTFE tube manufacturer supplies these tubes to industrial plants that manufacture industrial heat exchangers.
Also, the material used to make the boiler is crucial in achieving high efficiency. Every industry has some specific needs. For instance, the medical industry uses plastic because it is easy to use and discard. This reduces the chances of the spread of diseases. Hence, a medical plastic injection molding factory uses a variety of plastics to create end products with desirable characteristics.
Plastic is a perfect fit for the medical device manufacturing industry. Likewise, steel is an ideal material for making boilers. Alloys like steel are affordable, can be welded easily, and resist corrosion.
The water used to generate the stream should be free of particulate matter. The power plants are usually located close to a water source like a river or a lake. The water of lakes and rivers contains sand, silt, gravel etc. Thus, the water needs to be purified before being sent to a steam-generating chamber. Mud and gravel can damage the boiler surface, so they need to be removed.
The treatment involves sedimentation and other gravity-based methods to settle the solid impurities. Apart from sedimentation, the water is also softened. Magnesium and calcium bicarbonates make the water hard. Thus, the water is softened by replacing the calcium and magnesium salts using sodium resins. Softening is essential in industries for maintaining the efficiency of costly machinery like boilers.
Running The Turbines
Steam is superheated water at high pressure. The energy of steam runs turbines. As the steam passes through the blades of turbines, it gives off most of its power to run the turbine blades. The running of the turbines ultimately generates electricity.
The electricity thus generated in thermal power plants is transmitted using high tension wires to cities and industries.
A lot goes into the generation of the electricity that people nonchalantly consume and waste. People use air conditioning and television sets to make their lives luxurious. However, electricity is precious and must be conserved. Switch off devices when not in use. Purchasing environmentally sustainable products like LED light strip bulk can save a lot of electricity.
The world is moving towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly sources of energy. Solar, wind, hydroelectric and nuclear power generation has been greatly boosted in the past decade. Despite the rapid progress in developing alternative energy sources, thermal power will always remain important. Thermal power supplies nearly 40% of the global energy needs.
Renewable energy has to overcome several challenges before it can replace coal. Renewable energy generation requires a lot of resources for research and development. Moreover, the power generated by wind and sun is intermittent. Wind energy works best in open areas with high wind velocities like seashores and deserts. Likewise, the sun’s light is available only during the day. Nuclear energy development is costly.
Thus, these sources of energy will take some time to replace coal. Until then, improving the efficiency of thermal power plants is the best option.