Laboratory for thermal engineering

"Analyse steam power plants, find weak points, make them more efficient".


The thermal engineering laboratory is a specialisation laboratory in the field of power plant technology and deals with the evaluation and analysis of complex plant systems. 

In each semester, various laboratory experiments are offered for VEU students (5th semester):

In Germany, over 2/3 of electrical energy is still provided in power plants using fossil and nuclear-fired steam power processes. The large thermal solar power plants around the world also use steam power to convert solar energy into electrical energy.

But it is not only the large electricity providers that need this technology. Many companies with their own energy supply (electricity, steam, hot water, process heat, etc.) such as tyre manufacturers, paper mills, chemical companies, refineries and many others also use this steam power process.

Since fossil primary energy is becoming scarcer and more expensive, and the emission regulations for climate protection are becoming stricter and stricter, these plants must be constantly analysed and optimised in order to remain competitive on the market. Therefore, the topic will remain very important even after the energy turnaround has been initiated.

All students of mechanical engineering learn about the important steam power process, whose comparative process is the so-called Clausius-Rankine process (CRP), in the basic studies in the Thermodynamics lecture.

This process is particularly important for energy engineering and process engineering. Therefore, the Faculty 2 - Mechanical Engineering maintains its own power plant for students of the degree course in Process Energy and Environmental Engineering, which, as the largest experimental plant of the university, extends over several rooms and laboratories in the laboratory wing as well as the outdoor area of Faculty 2.

In the 5th semester, the power plant is put into operation for the students in the Thermal Engineering Laboratory of the Power Plant Engineering module, so that they can record measurement data on all aggregates under real conditions ("under steam") and thus analyse the power plant process as a whole as well as examine the most important power plant components (steam generator, pipeline, turbine, condenser, cooling tower, etc.) with regard to their function and economic efficiency based on a practical task.

At the end of the Thermal Engineering Laboratory of the module Power Plant Technology module, the students have knowledge and methods that allow them to analyse complex energy conversion plants, identify their weak points, eliminate them and finally develop measures for optimisation.

The most important power plant components

Steam generator

In the steam generator (room 1D.-1.06), here a shell boiler, the circulating medium (here: water, but there are also systems with other substances, e.g. organic fluids) is preheated, brought to boiling point at high pressure and superheated. The superheated steam is then transported to the turbine via a superheated steam pipe. Alternatively, the steam can also be conducted in a spilling steam engine of the reciprocating engine laboratory.

The steam generator is equipped with modern control technology from Siemens and Saacke.


In the turbine (room 1E.0.41), here a so-called equal-pressure turbine, the steam is passed through special nozzles at high pressure and thus extremely accelerated (up to over 3,600 km/h). The steam then flows into the impeller, keeping it rotating through the forces of redirecting this flow. The speed of the impeller, almost 7,000 min-1, is reduced to slow speed in a gearbox. The shaft of the gearbox then drives the generator in a power station, usually at 3,000 min-1 (hence the 50 Hz mains frequency).


In the condenser (room 1E.-1.25), the steam, which has now fulfilled its main task, is cooled down, condensed out and fed to the condensate pump so that it pumps the now liquid water (condensate) back to the steam generator.
This component is of great importance: If the condenser is dirty or too small, or if the cooling water is too warm for the many cold pipes on which the steam is to condense, the turbine's output will drop quite considerably.



The team