Siemens and E.ON reach milestone with 3D-printed gas turbine burner

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Siemens and E.ON have reached a significant milestone in the area of 3D printing for the energy sector. The world’s first 3D printed burner for an SGT-700 gas turbine has been in operation for one year at E.ON’s combined cycle power plant in Philippsthal, Germany, and the results are impressive; it has been operating for over 8,000 hours with no reported issues.

In 2017, Siemens began printing gas turbine burners using selective laser melting technology – the first burners were produced by Siemens’ intelligent burner manufacturing (IBUMA) programme in Finspång, Sweden. Each burner head is manufactured in one piece, which compares favourably with previous methods that required 13 individual parts and 18 welds. Moreover, design improvements, such as the pilot-gas feed being part of the burner head instead of the outside fuel pipe, allow the operating temperature to be kept lower, thus contributing to a longer operational lifespan of the components and, ultimately, the gas turbines.

Working side-by-side, Siemens and E.ON became co-creators on the project, realising advantages on both sides. Siemens is accelerating the development of innovative design and manufacturing technologies, while E.ON is benefiting from these innovations at an early stage.

“As an energy service provider, precision and consistency are an absolute requirement for us,” says Niklas Lange, project manager at E.ON Energy Projects. “Additive manufacturing not only delivers this, but in our experience it can even improve performance compared with older design iterations.

“We like to help drive innovation,” Lange adds. “When I saw these burners from Siemens in Sweden, I knew we could benefit from using them in a commercial turbine. It’s also important to note that our hands-on collaboration with Siemens has been key to delivering performance to our customer.”

Vladimir Navrotsky, CTO for Siemens Power Generation Services, Distributed Generation, is excited about the future of additive manufacturing and Siemens’ leading role in accelerating its use. “These early results from the IBUMA burner validate our belief that this technology is a game-changer.”