How We Use Steam Turbines To Generate Electricity
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How we use steam turbines to generate electricity

Electricity powers our everyday lives. When you charge your cell phone, use your computer, watch TV, or run your air conditioner, you rely on electrical energy.

Inside of power plants, steam turbines convert steam into kinetic energy. Find out more about this process and understand how we use steam turbines to generate electricity.


1. Burn Fuel To Create Steam

First, energy producers burn a fuel source to create steam. The heat source can come from coal, oil, natural gas, wood, or waste products. Our most-used fuel type is natural gas.

The type of fuel used to create the steam affects the characteristics of the emissions. Renewable fuel sources are more environmentally friendly ways to generate electricity.

2. Steam Passes by Turbine Blades

The shape of a turbine blade is an important part of how we use steam turbines to generate electricity. As steam passes a blade, it creates a lift force that causes the blades to turn.

With this movement, the thermal energy from the steam turns into mechanical energy. When blades become damaged or degrade over time, a process called blending can smooth the blade again so it works optimally.

Steam turbine blades are arranged in rows, with the first row of blades shorter than the final row. The pressure of the steam drastically reduces as it goes through the turbine. And when pressure decreases, volume increases. That’s why the blades on the final row of the turbine are longer: they must accommodate a larger volume of steam.

3. The Generator Converts Mechanical Energy Into Electricity

All the steam turbine blades are mounted on a rotor shaft, and this shaft connects to a generator. As the steam pushes the blades, the shaft spins. The generator captures the shaft’s motion and runs it through a magnetic field, converting the mechanical energy into electrical energy. After this, transmission lines carry the power out of the power plant.


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