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Hydrogen Cooled Generator (http://www.control.

com/thread/1267097548)

Theconceptsofahydrogencooledgeneratorareverysimple.Ascurrentflowsinaconductor,heatis
generated.Ageneratorhasalotofconductorsandalotofcurrentflowingthroughtheconductors,generatinga
lotofheat.Ifthatheatisn't"removed"thenthewindingswillbedamaged(insulation"blisters";conductors
growandelongatecausingclearanceandbalanceissues;etc.).Inaddition,inasynchronousgenerator
(alternator),therearehighcurrentsflowingintherotorwindings,whichalsogeneratesheatwhichmustbe
"removed".
Aircanbeusedtocoolagenerator,bycirculatingitthroughthegeneratortoabsorbheatandthenexhausting
theairtoanotherareaoutsidethegenerator.Acontinuousflowofairfromoutsidethegenerator,throughthe
generator,toanotherareaoutsidethegeneratorwillcoolthegeneratorandrotor.(Thepresumptionisthatthe
airenteringthegeneratoriscoolerthanthegenerator.)
Anotherwaytocoolthegeneratoristousehydrogengascirculatedthroughthegeneratorandaroundtherotor
tocoolthings.Hydrogenisseventotentimesbetterattransferringheatthanair.Thatis,hydrogenismuch,
muchbetteratabsorbingheatandthenatgivingupthatheattoanothermedium/areathanair.Thismeansthat
forthesamesizegenerator,ifit'scooledwithhydrogenversusairthatmorecurrentcanflowinthestatorand
rotorwindingswhichmeansthatmorepowercanbeproduced.Or,thinkingaboutitalittledifferently,the
sameaboutofpowercanbeproducedwithasmallergeneratorcooledwithhydrogenthanonecooledwithair,
whichisthetypicalreasonforusinghydrogencoolingtoreducethephysicalsize(andcost)ofthegenerator.
The"problem"withusinghydrogenasacoolingmediumisthatit'sexplosivewhenmixedwithairand
exposedtoanignitionsource.However,ifthepurityofthehydrogenismaintainedataveryhighlevel,
meaningthereisverylittleornoairinthegeneratorcasingtomixwiththehydrogen,theneveniftherewasa
"spark"therewon'tbeanexplosion.
So,tousehydrogentocoolageneratorit'snecessarytopreventairfromcontaminatingthehighpurity
hydrogenusedtofillthegeneratorcasingafterdisplacingtheair.Andthat'simportant,displacingasmuchof
theairinsidethegeneratorcasingbeforefillingitwithhighpurityhydrogen.
Thehydrogengasinsidethegeneratorisusuallyatapressureofapproximately2barg(30psig),whichmeans
thataircannotleak"into"thegeneratorcasingwherethehydrogenis.Ineffect,thisistheprimarymethodof
preventingairfromgettingintothecasingandcontaminatingthehydrogen.
Thehydrogeniscirculatedbyfansontheendsofthegeneratorrotor,andasit'scirculatedaroundthegenerator
itpassesovercoolerswhichhavewatercirculatingthroughthem.Theheatwhichisabsorbedbythehydrogen
gasasitpassesthroughthegeneratorandaroundtherotoristransferredtothewaterinthecooler.Asthe
hydrogenexitsthecoolers,it'srecirculatedbacktothegeneratorandrotor,inacontinuouscycle.
Anotherimportantconsiderationistokeepthehydrogenfromleakingoutofthegenerator,mixingwithairand
causinganexplosionorfirehazardwhereitmightleakoutofthegenerator.

Thegeneratorrotorrotateswhereitpassesthroughtheendshieldsandthatistheareathatmustbesealedto
keepthehydrogeninandnotallowittoleakout.Ahydrogencooledgeneratoruses"seals"tokeepthe
hydrogengasinsidethegenerator.
Thehydrogensealsareonthetwoshaft"ends"thatpassthroughthegeneratorendshields.Oilistypically
usedasthesealingmedium,andissprayedontheshaftaroundtheentirecircumferenceoftheshaft.The"seal
oil"isatahigherpressurethanthehydrogeninsidethegeneratorcasing.Someofthesealoilflowsoutofthe
sealareaalongtheshafttothe"air"sideofthegeneratorandsomeoftheoilflowsoutofthesealareaalong
theshaftintothe"hydrogen"sideofthegenerator.
Theoilthat'susedasthesealoilisgenerallythesamelubricatingoilthat'susedforthebearings.Thatoilis
normallyincontactwithairwhenit'sinthelubeoiltankandthebearingdrains.So,air(intheformofsmall
bubbles)canbeentrainedinthelubeoil,andwhensprayedonthegeneratorshaftthataircanbeliberatedfrom
theoilthatflowsintothehydrogensideofthesealarea.Thatair,ifnot"removed"somehow,cancontinueto
collectinsidethegeneratorcasingandreducethepurityofthehydrogen,andcauseasafetyconcern.
So,becausethehydrogeninsidethegeneratorcasingisatahigherpressurethanoutsidethegeneratorcasing,
aircan'tleakintothegenerator.And,becauseoil,whichwillhaveentrainedairinit,isusedasthesealing
medium,theairreleasedfromthe"sealoil"thatflowsintothehydrogenareacanreducethehydrogenpurityif
notremoved.So,theprimarysourceofairtoreducehydrogenpurity(contaminatethehydrogengasinsidethe
generator)isairliberatedfromtheoilusedtokeepthehydrogeninsidethegeneratorfromleakingoutalong
theshaft.
So,thereisasystemtoremovetheairwhichisliberatedfromthesealoilthatflowsintothehydrogensideof
thegeneratorseal.Thatsystemistypicallycalleda"scavenging"system.Asmallamountofgasisallowedto
beventedfromthesealoilenlargementtank,wheretheentrainedairliberatedfromthesealoilishopefully
contained.Thatventisnormallypipedtoasafeareaoftheatmosphereawayfromanyignitionsourcesinceit
willhavehydrogengasinitaswellasair.
Becauseasmallamountofgas(airandhydrogen)iscontinuallybeingventedtoatmospherethroughthe
scavengingsystem,thepressureinsidethegeneratorwoulddecreaseifnothingelseweredone.However,there
isapressureregulatorfromasourceofhighpurityhydrogenthatmaintainsthepressurebyflowingasmall
amountofhighpurityhydrogenintothegeneratorcasingtomaintainthepressure.
Thereisusuallyahydrogenpuritymonitoringsystemwhichcanbeusedtodetectchangesinpurityduring
operation.Again,thepresumptionisthatthehydrogenpurityishightobeginwith(afterthegeneratorcasing
ispurgedofairandfilled("charged")withhydrogen).Butbecauseoftheairwhichcanbeliberatedfromthe
oilusedasthesealingmediumtokeepthehydrogenfromleakingoutofthegenerator,itisnecessarytohavea
meansofmonitoringthepurity,usuallyatmultiplepointsinthegenerator,tobesurethatthepurityis
maintainedtopreventapossibleexplosionorfire.
Thescavengingflowratesmustalsobesetandmonitoredtopreventexcessivehydrogenconsumption(to
replacethehydrogenlostwiththeairthat'sbeingventedtoatmosphere).

Thesealoilthatflowsintothehydrogensideofthesealareaisusuallydirectedtoanareacalledand
"enlargementtank"andthat'swhereit'shopedtheentrainedairisliberatedand"contained",andventsfromthe
enlargementtanksaredirectedthroughcalibratedflowmeterstoatmosphere(thescavengingsystem).The
hydrogenpuritymonitorsareusuallycapableofmonitoringthepurityofthegasinthetopoftheenlargement
tanksthat'sventedthroughthescavengingsystem.
Thehydrogenpuritymonitorcanalsobesettomonitorthepurityinsidethecasing(whichshouldbehigher
thantheenlargementtanks,theoretically).
Usually,whenthehydrogenpuritymonitorindicatesthepurityisdecreasing,thenitincreasesthescavenging
flowratetotrytoincreasethepurity,butventingmore"contaminated"gastoatmosphereandreplacingitwith
highpurityhydrogen.
Ifthehydrogenpuritydropsbelowacertainlevel(around80%orso,dependingonmanufacturers'
recommendations),thenusuallythegeneratorandprimemoverarestoppedandthenthegeneratorispurgedof
hydrogen.(CO2isusuallyusedasthemediumforpurgingairfromthegeneratorwhenfillingwithhydrogen,
andalsowhenpurgingthehydrogenfromthegenerator.)
Presumingthehydrogenbeingusedtomaintainthepressurewhilescavengingishighpurity,andbecausethe
casingpressureisusuallytwobarg,themostlikelywaythatpuritycanbedecreasedisfromtheairentrained
inthesealoil.Ifthesealoilflowrates(usuallymonitoredwithasingle(unfortunately)flowmeter)increase,
thentheairliberatedfromthesealoilwillincreaseandthatistheprimarysourceofcontaminationand
decreasedpurity.(Thispresumesthatthepuritymonitorsareworkingcorrectly.)So,it'svery,veryimportant
tomonitorsealoilflowratestodetectanincreasewhichwouldusuallyresultinadecreaseinpurity.But,with
onlyasinglesealoilflowratemeterforsealsattwoendsofthegenerator,it'sdifficulttodetectwhichsealis
degradingandconsumingmoreoilwhichisliberatingmoreair(butthedecreasedpurityinaparticular
enlargementtankisthekey).
Thatshouldbeenoughofadescriptionforanewbieornovice.Ifyouhavespecificquestions,we'lltrytohelp.
Ifyou'reworkingatasitewithahydrogencooledgenerator,youshouldbeabletofindthesealoilpiping
schematic(P&ID)whichshouldbehelpfulinunderstandingthesealoilsystem.Ifthegeneratorwas
manufacturedbyGE,itwillusuallyhavesomedrawingsintheInstructionManualsthatareveryhelpfulin
understandingthesystemsinuseonthegeneratoratthesite(thoughmostareverysimilar,therecanbesubtle,
butimportant,differences).