The Primary Components of a Steam Turbine and How They Function

While most people are aware of steam as a means of heating up objects, cleaning flooring, humidifying a room, and more, some may not realize that steam can also serve as a major source of power generation. With a steam turbine, thermal energy can be harnessed from expanding steam in order to generate electricity. Utilizing thermodynamic efficiency for electricity generation is extremely useful, and countries such as the United States even generate up to 85% of their electricity through such methods. In this blog, we will discuss the various primary components that make up steam turbine systems, allowing for you to better understand how they function and produce electricity.

While each steam turbine may vary in its outward appearance and application, all types feature some of the same basic parts that enable their functionality. Within the center of the steam turbine assembly, a rotor is placed to transfer power from the turbine to the output. With a series of blades implemented across the rotor’s body, the forces of expanding steam will cause the rotor to revolve. As rotors spin, the rotational movement can be transformed into mechanical energy, allowing for an output appliance or generator to be provided with power. To ensure that rotors are capable of withstanding the extreme heat and pressures of steam, they are often manufactured with alloy steel cases. Rotor and assembly casings of the turbine system are also often supported by components known as bearing cases, and such components are useful for preventing leaking and contamination within the turbine system.

As the steam turbine operates, it is also important that the steam’s rate of flow is managed so as to ensure a constant speed of rotor spinning. By implementing interposing valves between the turbine and boiler, the rate at which steam moves through the system can be throttled. In certain steam turbine types, nozzle governing may be used instead to regulate flow outside of pressure. With two or more nozzles controlled by valves, flow rate can be regulated as nozzles are actuated. As the other alternative to interposing valves, pass governing is another type of flow rate management that allows for steam to be circumvented to later stages of the energy production process when needed.

For generated steam to optimally hit blades for rotation, modern steam turbines utilize stationary diaphragms that are implemented at the early stages. With diaphragms, the flow of steam can be directed against blades, and adjustments can be made to fine-tune their operation. To adjust the diaphragms of a particular assembly, one may tighten or loosen adjusting screws at the horizontal joint.

With the addition of parts such as sentinel valves, auxiliary steam valves, labyrinth seals, and more, steam turbines can efficiently create energy for a number of uses. In the modern day, steam turbines may be used for a variety of applications such as the powering of aircraft, ships, missiles, and more. Additionally, nuclear materials, coal, fossil fuels, and geothermal sources may all be used to operate steam turbines, allowing them to serve diverse uses.

When you are in the market for reliable parts and components for your steam turbine or other power-generating system, look no further than NSN Unlimited. As a leader amongst online part distributors, we provide customers access to an unparalleled inventory consisting of over 2 billion new, used, and obsolete items. By leveraging our market expertise and purchasing power, we can provide customers with competitive pricing and rapid lead-times for their time and cost savings. Get started on the purchasing process today for the parts that you are interested in by submitting an Instant RFQ form through our website and receive a personalized quote in just 15 minutes or less.


February 15, 2021


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