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TURBONIK micro steam turbine: Generating electricity with small amounts of steam

Many manufacturing companies in chemical parks and the energy supply sector generate steam for their processes. Up to now, it has not been commercially viable to use small quantities of steam in conventional turbines to harness the energy in the steam to generate electricity as well. A new micro steam turbine from the start-up TURBONIK in Dortmund provides a way of doing that. It enables businesses to reduce not only their energy costs but also their CO2 emissions. The first micro steam turbine is already in use at the energy supply company Energieversorgung Oberhausen AG, producing electricity for over 60 four-person households every year, avoiding around 90 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Many years of research went into the development of TURBONIK’s new micro steam turbine, resulting in a highly innovative product: through the direct coupling of turbine and generator and an optimised blade design, the micro steam turbine possesses a significantly higher efficiency ratio than conventional steam turbines. At the same time, it is much more compact. The turbine enables many businesses for the first time to optimise the generation of energy from process steam which, with widespread use, would raise the climate protection potential to over 2 million tonnes of CO2 per year in Germany alone.

Engine for progress:

  • Innovative steam turbine technology
  • Highly efficient plant for small-output operations
  • Enables reduction in energy costs through own electricity generation
  • Start-up from the science sector in NRW
  • Climate protection potential of over 2 million tonnes of CO2 per year in Germany with widespread use of the technology

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Photo: TURBONIK GmbH

With the micro steam turbine, businesses using steam can also generate their own electricity. For the first time, small steam volumes or small pressure differentials can now be used to significantly reduce energy costs and at the same time make a contribution to climate protection.



High-tech science-based start-up

The founders of TURBONIK, Dr Johannes Grob, Dr Björn Bülten and Ralf Paucker, spent many years researching new developments in the generation of electricity from waste heat using so-called ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle) turbines at the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology (UMSICHT) in Oberhausen. Drawing on this research, they finally developed the new micro steam turbine for water vapour. Together with Martin Daft, who is responsible for business aspects, the team set up TURBONIK GmbH with headquarters in Dortmund as a spin-off of the Fraunhofer UMSICHT Institute. Because of the long successful collaboration between Fraunhofer UMSICHT and Energieversorgung Oberhausen AG (evo) – in the person of its technical director Bernd Homberg and the manager of its power station division, Christian Basler – a partner for the practical trial of the micro steam turbine was quickly found. The TURBONIK team installed the first turbine as part of a joint pilot project in 2017 in evo’s district heating system, where it replaced a pressure reduction valve. When the steam drives the turbine, the steam pressure is regulated and electricity is produced in the process. With an output of 70 kilowatts, the turbine produces around 300,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity yearly. In this way, evo avoids 90 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year, making a contribution to climate protection and reducing its own energy costs.

A lightweight with a big effect

The new micro steam turbine saves resources compared to conventional installations: thanks to its design and the absence of gearing, it is completely oil-free and more than two tonnes lighter than traditional steam turbines of the same output category. A further advantage is that it can be easily integrated into existing systems and installations. This means that it can be installed without great expense anywhere where a boiler is installed for steam production, as for instance in breweries and paper factories.


Photo: TURBONIK GmbH

“The use of steam turbines for generating electricity is already standard in large steam installations. Our turbine technology now for the first time makes economically and ecologically sustainable electricity generation from process steam available to the many operators of smaller plants.”

Dr Björn Bülten, CEO TURBONIK GmbH



Partners and sponsors


Partners:
  • TURBONIK GmbH
  • Fraunhofer UMSICHT
  • Energieversorgung Oberhausen
Sponsors:
Counselling centers:
  • EnergieAgentur.NRW