EPRI Applies Airline Industry Inspection Technique for Industrial Gas Turbines

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has evaluated the application of an inspection technology developed for jet aircraft engines to help operate industrial and power sector gas turbines more safely and reliably. EPRI’s evaluation focused on applying Vibrant Corporation’s Process Compensated Resonance Testing (PCRT) for hot section blades. They found that the technology’s use can decrease the risk of turbine blade failure and extend the useful life of gas turbine components—enhancing safe operation.

During the testing, EPRI compiled model-specific blade frequency characteristics, including data on more than 11,000 blades to date, a database which continues to grow. The findings of EPRI’s research will be published in an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) journal this summer.

PCRT is a non-destructive, ultrasonic technology for qualitatively evaluating gas turbine blades’ material state, structural integrity, and dimensional variations. It applies various statistical metrics and pattern recognition tools to pick out parts that differ from the rest of those being tested. Gas turbine operators use the technology to evaluate components’ condition, reduce failure risk, and maximize part life—for new, service-run, and repaired blades. EPRI and Vibrant entered into an agreement to apply and evaluate the technology in U.S. utilities’ power plants

“Our application and testing in diverse plants operated by utilities has demonstrated that this technology provides an enhanced understanding of component quality concerns in combination with traditional methods,” said Dr. Robert Steele, program manager, EPRI, who oversees this research.

“Working with EPRI has provided Vibrant access to the statistical baseline data we need to create an inspection tool that can effectively support operators of gas turbines,” Leanne Jauriqui, Vibrant’s vice president of Technology, said. “EPRI’s testing has shown that PCRT offers the power sector the enhanced capability to monitor components over the life of the turbines and understand how they age by identifying parts that are changing in unusual ways.”

The findings will be outlined in the “Process Compensated Resonance Testing for Qualifying the Metallurgical Aspects and Manufacturing Defects of Turbine Blades” paper (# GT 2020-15268).