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Why hydrogen is used for generator cooling ?

Hydrogen is used for generator cooling in certain power plants, especially those employing large generators, due to its unique properties that offer several advantages over other cooling mediums. Let’s delve into the detailed reasons behind the use of hydrogen for generator cooling:

  1. High Thermal Conductivity:
    • Hydrogen has a significantly higher thermal conductivity compared to air, which is the most common alternative cooling medium. This means that hydrogen can efficiently transfer heat away from the generator windings and core, helping to maintain lower operating temperatures.
  2. Low Density:
    • Hydrogen has a low density, making it an effective cooling medium for reducing windage losses. The low density results in lower friction between the rotating generator components and the surrounding gas, minimizing energy losses due to air resistance.
  3. Low Specific Heat Ratio:
    • The specific heat ratio (also known as the ratio of specific heats or adiabatic index) of hydrogen is lower than that of air. This characteristic allows hydrogen to absorb and release heat more rapidly, enhancing its cooling efficiency.
  4. Reduced Windage Losses:
    • Hydrogen’s low density also contributes to reduced windage losses, as it creates less resistance against the rotation of the generator components. This results in lower mechanical losses, improving overall efficiency.
  5. Chemical Inertness:
    • Hydrogen is chemically inert, meaning it does not react with the materials commonly used in generators, such as copper and steel. This inertness ensures that hydrogen does not contribute to corrosion or degradation of the generator components, enhancing the equipment’s longevity.
  6. Low Viscosity:
    • Hydrogen has a low viscosity, allowing it to circulate more easily through the generator’s cooling system. This fluidity facilitates efficient heat transfer and contributes to the overall effectiveness of the cooling process.
  7. Reduced Windage Losses:
    • Hydrogen’s low density contributes to reduced windage losses, as it creates less resistance against the rotation of the generator components. This results in lower mechanical losses, improving overall efficiency.
  8. High Heat Capacity:
    • Despite its low density, hydrogen has a high heat capacity. This property enables it to absorb a significant amount of heat energy while maintaining relatively low temperatures, making it effective for cooling high-power generators.
  9. Low Flammability Range:
    • Hydrogen has a wide flammability range, meaning it requires a specific concentration in the air to sustain combustion. Operating within safe concentration limits helps mitigate the risk of fire incidents associated with hydrogen use.
  10. Environmental Considerations:
    • Hydrogen is environmentally friendly, producing only water vapor when it reacts with oxygen. This makes it a preferable choice over other cooling gases that might have environmental implications.

While hydrogen offers these advantages, it’s important to note that safety measures must be in place to handle and contain hydrogen, considering its flammable nature. Proper design, monitoring, and maintenance practices are essential to ensure the safe and efficient use of hydrogen as a cooling medium in generators.

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