Gut Rumbles

April 20, 2008


Originally published August 16, 2003

When I worked in the power plant, I enjoyed training new operators. I could blow their minds by demonstrating how a turbine generator worked.

The turbine is turning 10,800 RPM. Thanks to a reduction gearbox, the generator is turning 3,600 RPM. We are producing one megawatt of electricity and consuming 20,000 pounds of steam per hour.

Now, let open a couple of hand valves on the turbine and get some more steam in here. Whoh! We're consuming 35,000 pounds of steam per hour now, and producing 1.5 megawatts of electricity.

But the turbine still spins at 10,800 RPM and the generator still turns at 3,600 RPM. None of that has changed. Where did the extra power come from?

When they shook their heads in amazement, I explained it as "PFM."

Pure. Fucking. Magic.

I went into resistance later, but it surely was fun to play with their heads at the beginning.

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