The Rankine Cycle
“How can we predict the performance of steam turbines?”
Steam turbines are some of the most used energy systems in the world. As such, it would be very practical to analyze how they consume energy. However, because of intricacies in internal operations, the Carnot Cycle will not work. So how can we use our engineering mindset to model steam turbines? Well, let’s use our engineering mindset to find out. To begin, let’s pump our working fluid from a lower pressure to a higher one in Process 1-2. Then, this high-pressure liquid will enter a boiler to be heated by an external source at a constant pressure until it becomes a dry, saturated vapour in Process 2-3. Afterwards, let’s put this through a turbine, generating power. This Process 3-4 will decreases the temperature and pressure of the vapour, and some condensation may occur. Finally, let’s end this by putting the water through a condenser and condensing it to a liquid at constant pressure until it becomes a saturated liquid in Process 4-1. This cycle is known as a Rankine Cycle and has become the foundation for all steam turbine energy systems.