Steam Energy

The first modern turbine was developed by Sir Charles A. Parsons in 1884. This turbine was used for lighting an exhibition in Newcastle, England and produced merely 7.5 KW of energy. Now, turbine generators can produce over 1,000 MW of energy in large-scale power plants. While generation capacity has increased immensely since Parsons, the planning has remained an equivalent. But, as intuitive as Parsons’ design is, it isn’t as simple as steam moving across blades. It was based on the Second Law of Thermodynamics and Carnot’s Theorem (), which claims that with greater steam temperature comes greater power plant efficiency. Let’s dive into how steam helps power most of the nation’s power production plants. Going back to high school physics, water boils at 100°C. At that point, the molecules expand, and we get vaporized water—steam. By harnessing the energy contained within the rapidly expanding molecules, steam provides remarkable efficiency for energy output. Given the heat and pressure of steam, it comes as no surprise that there are instances where accidents occurred thanks to poor use or implementation of safety valves. One of the most notable incidents occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. The event all decreased to a buildup in pressure from steam when the pumps feeding water to the steam generators stopped working.  

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