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Steam Turbine Control Valve,

Governing and Lube Oil

Subodh Kumar Tikadar
FollowSubodh Kumar Tikadar
Ex-Chief Engineer-Mechanical(Rotating equipment)

Steam Turbine Control Valve, Governing and Lube Oil System

General industrial steam turbine prefers a steam source of 42 Kg/Cm2

(600 PSI) at 482 deg C (900 o F). Steam turbines for industrial
applications are often classified in two (2) categories, according to the
basic design-

1) Condensing turbine where the steam exhausts into a

condenser. A vacuum in the condenser provides the optimum pressure
drop from turbine inlet to turbine exhaust. The steam condenses to
water and a pump returns this water to the boiler.

2) Back pressure turbine is the turbine where the exhaust of the

turbine is above atmosphere. The low pressure exhaust stream is
utilized to some other section of the plant. Typical pressure is 2 to 4
kg/cm2 for heating a process or heating a building.

This paper covers Controls for Turbine for a variety of functions and
therefore it would be natural to classify the turbines according to the
control parameters.

Classification according to Control Function:

1) Condensing turbine, the most common application for driving
generator and for mechanical drive (compressor) if no other turbine
parameter needs to be controlled.

2) Inlet Pressure control where the turbine has the basic task to
maintain a constant pressure in its inlet header.

3) Back Pressure turbine where the turbine has a task to provide a low
pressure steam by expanding steam from the high pressure source.

4) Extracting Turbine for applications requiring an intermediate

source of steam pressure at a controlled flow.

5) Induction Turbine, also called Admission Turbine where an

intermediate source of pressure is available to drive the turbine , in
addition to high pressure source.

All these basic types are used in many variations, including extraction
turbines with two or more extraction ports or combination of
extraction /induction turbines.

Classification according to the number of Valves:

In past during the era of analog controls, the functional classification

was natural classification. Actually it was analog controls which were
hardware intensive requiring significant design work for a particular
application or function. But now all is digital control which is
software intensive. This software control eliminated much of this
hardware design. For example, the digital control does not care
whether a 4 -20 mA input signal is pressure, power or any other
parameter because all the scaling is done in software. Therefore from
a control point of view we can simplify the system by classifying the
turbine according to the number of control points on the turbine with
each control point having one or more control valves. Each location
can have multiple valves, such as a turbine with multiple inlet valves
but these valves operate at a single point: the inlet of the turbine.
These valves can operate simultaneously or in sequence but in the
classification these valves are considered as a single control
point. Large, single extraction turbines may have more than one LP
valve to handle the steam volume but for this classification all
extraction valves at one location are considered as one valve.

1. Single Valve Turbines: Because there is only one controlled

(inlet) port, only one parameter can be controlled
simultaneously. This single parameter can be speed, inlet pressure,
back pressure, or for a compressor drive, that parameter can be a
compressor function such as suction pressure or discharge
pressure. The control may have additional control functions such as
speed and valve opening limiter and the control can switch from one
control mode to another which is typical during a start when the
control switches from speed control to pressure control. At any given
time only one parameter can be in control.

Condensing Turbines: Steam enters the turbine through the inlet

valve and exhausts to the condenser. A vacuum pump maintains
vacuum of typically 4 inch Hg in the condenser, giving the turbine the
pressure drop between inlet and exhaust for optimum
efficiency. Cooling water flowing through the condenser converts the
exhaust steam to water and a pump returns this water to the
boiler. The controlled parameter for the turbine is speed and for
Generator drives this is the only parameter. For mechanical drive the
controlled parameter shall be also on Compressor, such as compressor
suction pressure or compressor discharge pressure.

A single valve condensing type turbine may have an extraction port or

even more than one extraction port but this extraction flow is not

Backpressure Control: Here in this type of turbine, high pressure

steam is expanded to low pressure steam. Another technique is to use
expansion valves with a pressure regulator but this method is
inefficient because it is a waste of heat energy during expansion. The
back pressure turbine recovers this energy by driving a useful load.

The steam in the back pressure header is used in a process or for

heating purposes, usually at a variable flow demand. There is no
instrument available to measure demand but it is known that at
constant turbine speed the back pressure would vary with demand. An
increase in demand results in an initial decrease in pressure while a
decrease in flow demand initially will result in an increase in
pressure. Therefore, the control on the backpressure turbine
modulates the inlet valve and matches steam flow to steam demand by
maintaining constant pressure in the backpressure header.

When the pressure drops, the control will open the inlet valve further
until the new flow matches the flow demand and pressure returns to
normal. However the increase in steam flow also increases the speed
or power output of the turbine.
The main task of the back pressure turbine is to provide low pressure
steam. The power available from the expansion of the steam in the
turbine is a by-product but for a single valve turbine, as a
backpressure turbine this power can not be controlled: the available
power depends solely on the demand for extraction steam.

Inlet Pressure Control: The inlet pressure turbine receives its steam
from a high pressure header which also provides steam to other users
such as other turbines. The flow in the header varies with the demand
by these users and rather than varying the flow from the boiler, the
inlet pressure turbine takes all these flow. Again, it is not possible to
measure flow demand by other users but the inlet pressure turbine
matches available flow to flow demand by maintaining constant
header pressure. When header pressure drops due to an increase in
flow demand, the controller closes the inlet valve. When header
pressure increases due to a drop in demand, the controller opens the
inlet valve further. Again, the available power is a function of steam
flow and can not be controlled in this application.

The back pressure and inlet pressure application work for generators
which operate in parallel with a grid and for variable speed
mechanical drives. These applications do not work for generators on
an isolated system as the control cannot maintain constant speed.

The inlet valve for backpressure turbine opens when the transmitter
indicates a drop in pressure. However, the inlet valve of the inlet
pressure turbine moves in the opposite direction: it closes when the
transmitter on the high pressure header indicates a pressure drop.

Mechanical Hydraulic Governors:

Governor is the basic speed control which receives a pneumatic speed
reference signal from a process control. Commonly this is a 3 – 15
PSI signal. This process controller can control any variable such as
back pressure, turbine inlet pressure, compressor suction pressure or
discharge pressure depending on the operation of the turbine. As the
governor is completely mechanical-hydraulic it is intrinsically safe in
all hazardous environments. In addition it is completely self-contained
as it has an internal oil supply. However, from an operational point
this type of governor has some operational limitations as follows.

(1) If the 3- 15 PSI speed reference signal represents compressor

operation, the 3 PSI is equivalent to minimum compressor operating
speed and 15 PSI represents maximum compressor operating speed.

(2) The dynamics of the governor are determined by mechanical

components and the speed range over which the governor will control
with acceptable stability is limited.

(3) The governor has an internal oil supply and pump. Therefore, the
servo does not have any power output until turbine speed has
increased sufficiently to provide adequate oil pressure from the pump.

(4) For stability reasons, there is a time delay between any changes in
the speed reference input and the reaction of the internal speed setting

(5) Because the 3 PSI signal determines the minimum speed

(equivalent to minimum compressor speed) where the governor will
control, the start procedure, upto that speed, must be manual through
the Trip&Throttle(T&T) valve (installed in steam inlet line). The
operator cracks the T&T valve open and the turbine starts rotating. As
soon as the oil pump in the governor produces sufficient pressure, the
governor senses an underspeed condition and it moves the controlled
valve (CV) to maximum. CV is installed in the downstream of TT
valve in the steam inlet line. Any ‘Hold’ for warm up and any fast
acceleration through a critical must be controlled manually through
the T/T valve. This process continues until the turbine reaches a speed
corresponding to the 3 PSI reference setting at which point the
governor takes control of the turbine through the control valve CV.
The Trip & Throttle (T/T) valve can be opened completely and the
compressor loading process stars.

In addition any decrease in the turbine speed below the 3 PSI level
such as turbine idle or a controlled shutdown must be accomplished
manually, again via the T/T valve.

The speed reference input moves a pilot valve (PV) via a bellows. The
PV directs oil to the piston on top of the speeder spring (SS) which
determines the actual reference setting. A restriction in the flow of oil
to this piston creates a time delay. This built-in time delay of 3 – 5
seconds is necessary for system stability but it prevents any fast
overriding action via the 3-15 PSI input when a limiter wants to affect
the steam valve instantly. A typical example is a steam driven pump
which is controlled on flow with an override when suction pressure

Electronic Governors:

This governor was introduced in old days. It is vintage category now.

The speed reference for this type of governor was a combination of a
remote reference 94 -20 m A) from a process controller and a manual
potentiometer, with the later used to control speed below the
minimum compressor operating speed corresponding to 4 m A. The
electronic governor allowed the operator to control turbine speed
through the control valve (CV) over a much wider speed range and
also allowed remote control of speed.

Benefit of the electronic speed governor over mechanical hydraulic

includes the reaction time and some additional flexibility. The
electronic speed control reacts faster than the mechanical – hydraulic
equivalent if combined with a fast actuator. It also operates with a
wider speed rage.

Digital Controls: Basic control mode-

(1) The normal mode of operation which can be speed, power,

pressure, or any other variable as long as it is understood that for a
single valve turbine only one parameter can be in control at any given
time at any given type although the control must be able to switch
from one single control parameter to another.

(2) The control must recognize that there are certain limiting
parameters which may have to take over automatically when such a
variable reach a set point.

Cascade Control Mode:

Speed is the basic control parameter for both generator and

mechanical drive. Any other control parameter such as a process
controller acts as a reference input to the speed controller. The output
of the process control modulates the reference of the speed control.
Inlet Pressure Control:

Let us consider a turbine connected a constant pressure steam

header. When there are other users connected with the steam header,
the header pressure drops and the control close the turbine inlet valve
which makes more steam available to other users. The main task is to
maintain header pressure while the power is a byproduct which
depends on the amount of steam through the turbine.

Back Pressure Control:

Back pressure can be controlled as above, except the inversion of the

signal must beaded as the turbine control valve moves in the opposite
direction: a drop in back pressure indicates an increase in demand
which requires the inlet valve to be opened. For the inlet pressure
control a drop in pressure requires the valve to move in the close

Minimum Inlet Presser Limiter: In simple speed control of steam

turbine, the steam pressure may drop due to a sudden demand or
trouble with the source of steam. Low pressure may cause water
carry-over from the boiler which can cause severe damage. Therefore
this controller has a low limiter on steam pressure. During normal
operation when pressure exceeds the set point of the limiter, the
output of the limiter is high and the speed control operates the turbine
control valve.

Compressor Control: For the majority of compressor applications

the controlling parameter is either compressor inlet pressure or
compressor discharge pressure. For compressor the process to be
controlled is upstream, hence the compressor inlet pressure controller
operating as a cascade control on the speed controller. This
application could be, say, a gas separation plant where the compressor
must remove all available gas. An increase in pressure causes the
control to increase turbine speed. If the process is downstream, it is
more likely that the controlling parameter is compressor discharge
pressure. However, the action is opposite from the inlet pressure
control: an increase in pressure indicates a decrease in flow demand
which requires a decrease in turbine speed.

The digital control does not care what the input variables are. The 4 –
20 mA input to the cascade controller can be steam pressure such as
inlet pressure or back pressure or it can be a compressor parameter
such as suction pressure or discharge pressure.

The user has to configure the details of the control requirements

which involves selecting the various control modes and entering the
details of the inputs and outputs. The Woodward 505 has a alpha-
numerical display and an integral keyboard for this task. The newer
generation of standard controls will have the configuration done by
computers such as PC or laptop.

All the Woodward standard controls are configured by answering

questions which appear on the display by entering yes/no answers or
entering numerical values.

Standard controls cover the majority of applications of mechanical

drives. However, for more complex applications of large turbines
having an extensive protection system or more complex applications
such as a train of steam turbine/compressor, the requirements do not
fit in a standard control and a custom programmed control is needed.

Controls with a standard program usually are less expansive because

the application program does not have to be functionally tested for
every control.

2. Two Valves Turbines: With two valves, the control can modulate
two parameters simultaneously. For power plat, turbines in Generator
application, this can be a combination of maintaining constant turbine
speed and modulating extraction flow. For a variable speed drive
such as Compressor application, the two parameters typically are a
variable speed control combined with modulating extraction flow.
This type of turbine is called a Single Automatic Extraction (SAE)
turbine as it has a single extraction port with controlled extraction

1) Single Automatic Extraction:

Turbines with one extraction port are called Single Extraction

turbines. The turbine can have control valves on the HP inlet only in
which case the extraction flow is not controlled and flow as well as
pressure in the extraction header can vary. However if it is important
to control the flow in the extraction header, the turbine shall have two
valves, one on the HP inlet and a second LP valve downstream of the
extraction port. This type of turbine is a Single Automatic Extraction
(SAE) turbine. For the majority of SAE turbines, there is only one HP
and one LP valve although the design may involve more than one HP
and/or more than one LP valves.
Speed / Power Control:

The turbine can drive a compressor in which the turbine speed must
vary with compressor demand through a speed governor with the
input from a process controller. Another application is a generator
operating parallel with a commercial grid. In that case the speed is
constant and the control is designed in such a speed/power mode that
amount of power from the generator shall not be fluctuating.

Extraction Control:

The second controller is the extraction controller which must

modulate the amount of flow in the extraction header. This flow is
determined by the demand from the user.


The back pressure turbine has a control which modulates the flow in
the back pressure header while speed or power is not controlled. The
SAE turbine is used in applications where both extraction flow and
speed or power needs to be controlled simultaneously.

The modern digital control allows de-coupling of the two control

modes by making them independent. De-coupling requires the
speed/power controller and the extraction controller both operate the
HP and LP valves simultaneously.


All steam to provide power must travel from the HP valve, through
the HP turbine, through the LP valve and the LP turbine to turbine
exhaust with none of the steam travelling to the extraction port. All
steam to satisfy extraction demand must travel from the HP valve,
through the HP turbine to the extraction port without any of this steam
going through the LP section.

Any change in flow demand in the extraction header requires the

pressire controller operates both valve simultaneously. The steam
does expand in the HP section on its way to the extraction port and
that changes the power level. Therefore he LP valve must move in the
opposite direction. An increase in extraction demand requires that the
HP valve opens but the P valve close to reduce the power produced by
the LP valve in an amount equal to the power increase by the HP
section of the turbine.

Induction Turbines:

The turbine has two inlets for steam, a High Pressure (HP) and an
Intermediate Pressure (IP) inlet. Many plants such as the ethylene
plant depend on the reformer to produce the high pressure
steam. During the start a boiler produces the intermediate steam and
the induction turbine starts on that source. When the process is well
on its way and high pressure is available, the turbine switches to high
pressure source. Other induction turbines use all the excess steam
available from an intermediate pressure header.

Digital Controls for Large, Base Load Utility Steam Turbines:

Utility power plants are complex arrangements of machinery

requiring sophisticated control systems to keep all equipment working
in harmony and to keep the overall plant operating at its optimum
efficiency. Traditional control system includes control of boilers,
burner controls, turbine controls and various sections of the balance of
plant control. The operator supervises all these different controls from
the central control room. Digital technology offers more integration of
control functions and improved operator interface but there shall be
additional economic benefits for the justification of replacing existing

There are two separate control issues, determined by the nature of the
process to be controlled. These areas are: Plant control, Turbine

Major improvements in efficiency can be made by changing the

operating mode of the plant with turbine control being an important
part of this.

In addition to the improvement of the basic operating efficiency there

is a secondary efficiency improvement in the increased availability of
the turbine. The controls manufacturer can use digital technology in
the design of fault tolerant systems which allow a failure in the
control hardware without tripping the turbine. It is a truly fault
tolerant control, the operator can make repairs and replaces
components while the turbine is operating which vastly improves the
availability of the turbine.

Steam Turbine Interfaces

The decision to replace an existing control on a steam turbine with a

new digital control is only one aspect in the process. The selection of
the proper interface between the new control and the existing steam
valve is just as important for the success of the project. The majority
of the vintage controls are mechanical or electro-mechanical and the
interfaces with the steam valve servo are mechanical linkages or
hydraulic pressures. The new electric control has a voltage or current
output representing steam demand. For the older turbines this electric
signal must now interface with existing mechanical devices which
operate the steam valve. Some of the problems with the existing
governor, leading to the decision to replace the control may be a
combination of governor problems and servo deficiencies. Therefore,
the incorrect interface may affect the performance of the turbine-
control combination regardless of the improvements from the new
electronic control.

Mechanical Input:

Small Turbine may have a mechanical governor or mechanical-

hydraulic governor directly operating the steam valve. Larger turbines
require more force to operate the valves and these turbines have
multiple stage servos. Most basic designs have a single pilot valve
which modulates the flow of oil to the power piston which, in turn,
operates the steam valve(s). (Governor, pilot valve, power piston,
steam valve). Occasionally, very large turbines may have several
stages of amplification with two or more pilot valves in series.

Mechanical Trip:

Over speed protection is the primary trip but other trips involving lube
oil and other parameters may be involved. Should the existing
mechanical trips be maintained and a new electrical trip mechanism
be added or should the existing trip mechanism be completely
replaced? If the existing mechanical system does not cause nuisance
trips, it can be retained as the secondary trip and a new electrical
system can be added as primary protection. Insurance regulation may
even require that the mechanical trip be retained.

Electric Trip:

The software for the protection can be in the digital turbine control as
long as a second, independent, trip is provided for the (very remote)
case that there is a failure in the turbine control. More common is to
have the overspeed protection as a separate device. The trip valves are
dormant all the time and periodic testing is essential to assure that
they operate when required. The two isolation valves are added which
can isolate one trip valve for testing while the other trip valve remains
active. Once the switch on the isolation valve indicates that the trip
valve is isolated, the operator can test the trip valve.

Lube Oil Consoles:

Manufacturers manufacture Hydraulic Power Units (HPU) with single

and duplex electric motor driven pumps. These are standard designs
and provide pressure oil to the electro-hydraulic
actuators. Manufacturer also can design custom designed lube oil
consoles providing low pressure oil for the turbine and high pressure
oil for the servo.

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