INTRODUCTION: If we look to the past we can see that some time ago the principal preoccupation the societies was to have a good source of food, and they spent a lot of time trying to improve the way how they get it. Now, our preoccupation is about energy, and our Scientifics work trying to find out how to get better sources and also ways to take advantage of those that we alreadyknow; one of those sources is the thermal energy. The thermal energy can be get from a lot of chemical process for example: combustion, nuclear fusion and even from friction; also it can be get from the earth and the sun, and it’s called geothermal energy and solar energy.
How a classical thermoelectric power station works is a topic very interesting when you are studying thermodynamics and in ourcountry there are a lot of them, even when they are different from each, they all work using the same principle: a boiler is used to heat water until it boils, water leaves the boiler now become in high pressure superheated steam, then it comes into a turbine where it does work moving an electric generator. To complete this process a lot of devices are involved, but the most important is thethermal motor (or steam engine); this one is composed by the set of boilers and heaters and the set of turbines.
Some of the principal thermoelectric power stations in Colombia are located in: Cartagena, Barranquilla, Paipa, Cucuta, and Barrancabermeja.
Located in the middle east of Colombia, most specifically in the municipality of Paipa, its thermoelectric power station uses pulverized bituminous coal; it has the most advanced technology of the country and is composed by 4 units that in set has a capability of 321Megawatts.
Termopaipa is an important contributor to satisfy the energy needs of the region and also ispart of the Colombian Wholesale Energy Market. Nowadays it’s operated by GENSA which is one of the most important companies in the energetic management sector.
1. Conveyor belt
9. Air heater
12. High pressure turbine
13. Medium pressure turbine
14. Low pressure turbine
17. Cooling tower
20. Transmission line of electric energy
The last picture shows the principal devicesinside of a thermoelectric power station, as we can see the parts of the thermal motor occupy most of the space; is important to have at least a basic knowledge about them.
It is a closed vessel which has a specific purpose: to produce superheated steam at high pressures. It is a heat exchanger that transfers the energy from a fuel to water or other fluid until it has a phasechange, and also gives the energy necessary so that steam produced gains pressure.
Boilers have been used since the XVIII century, when James Watt saw that the energy stored in superheated steam could be used as force to make work; from those times by now, the engineering has improved them to take maximum advantage from the heat obtained by the fuel combustion. One of those improvements is to usesteel instead of iron, because steel is harder and stronger so it will resist better the pressure made by the superheated steam; another is the use of cooper to fabricate the fireboxes but even when it offer an advantage, because of its high thermal conductivity, its price makes it an uneconomic choice. But maybe the greatest progress was given by the insert of pipelines to increase the heating...