Gas Turbines vs. Steam Turbines

If your industrial operation relies on turbines for power generation, you may question whether steam or gas is the right type for you. While these systems operate differently from each other, there are other factors such as efficiency, cost and space to consider.

How Does a Gas Turbine Work?

Gas turbines rely on combustion to operate. These systems use compressed air and fuel to create hot exhaust gas that can produce power or electricity. The primary components of a gas turbine are a compressor, a combustion chamber and the turbine blades that create rotational energy with the exhaust gas.

How Does a Steam Turbine Work?

Steam turbines rely on the expansion of water to turn the rotors and create energy. Steam turbines have a simple design compared to gas turbines. A boiler heats water to turn it into steam, and pumps push it through rotors at a high velocity. 

What Are the Differences Between Gas and Steam Turbines?

Aside from relying on different fuel sources to run, there are other notable differences between gas and steam turbines. Understanding what separates them can help you determine which turbine type is best for your operation. Significant differences include:

  • Efficiency: One of the first questions people ask is, “Which is more efficient, steam turbines or gas turbines?” Since steam can hold high amounts of energy from the latent heat of vaporization, steam models are much more efficient than gas turbines.
  • Cost: On top of installation expenses, the cost to continually heat water for a steam turbine is much higher than the running costs of a gas turbine.
  • Space: Steam turbines typically take up more space than gas models with the boiler component. If you’re planning on installing a turbine, consider how much installation space you have available.
  • Cleanliness: The boilers in steam turbines can use fossil fuel alternatives to heat the water, and the steam is free of emissions. If you’re looking to cut down on your carbon footprint, steam models are a better option.
  • Starting time: Steam turbines take more time to start up than gas turbines because water needs to be heated before the system can run.

Browse Turbines at LCEC

At Louisiana Chemical Equipment Company, we carry a range of used turbines for chemical processing operations and other industries. With both gas and steam models available, you can find the right type based on your priorities. Browse our full inventory today and search turbines by sub-class to find gas or steam models. If you have questions for us, contact our team.

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