Everyone Benefits from Smart Cooperation
Vahterus tests its products at a steam laboratory installed in the Naantali power plant of Turun Seudun Energiantuotanto (TSE), an energy production company in the Turku region. The test laboratory, which has exceptionally high capacity, is used to study the qualities of Vahterus steam condensers for product development purposes.
The cooperation between Vahterus and the power plant began with a discussion between Tapani Bastman, former CEO of TSE, and Mauri Kontu, Founder and CEO of Vahterus, about challenges in product development.
Vahterus products are frequently installed in power plants, and continuous testing is required. TSE wanted to provide an innovative Finnish company with a platform for improving and developing products in a way that also benefits the energy industry.
In 2014, Vahterus leased a facility for a steam laboratory in the Naantali power plant. The plant also provides Vahterus with the steam necessary for testing. The laboratory is unique in terms of capacity, which at 10 MW is not easy to achieve outside a power plant setting.
The power plant’s automated system regulates the steam used in testing and the heat recovered from it is transferred to Turku Energia’s district heating network. This ensures that nothing goes to waste. Through the collaboration, TSE receives more and more information about heat exchangers and gets an opportunity to participate in product improvement.
‘This is a special collaboration project, and the powerplant’s employees have been participating actively and enthusiastically in operations related to the placement, piping and use of the laboratory. We seldom have an opportunity to be involved in this type of product development’, says Harri Blom, Development Manager and Operation Supervisor at Turku Energia.
The steam laboratory mainly tests steam condensers to improve their structure and thermal qualities and further develop Vahterus’ sizing programme. The laboratory also produces valuable information about desuperheaters and control systems, as well as the durability of condensers in various process conditions.
The practical work is long-term and requires a great deal of planning and preparations outside the laboratory. Although minor progress is continuously being made, major breakthroughs in product development require years of work, failure and success. However, TSE trusts that the cooperation will result in better heat exchangers for its benefit over the long term.
‘Our interaction with product development at Vahterus will also facilitate cooperation in the future, when power plant processes are developed further and carbon-neutral solutions are needed. Power plants have a large number of heat exchangers, and various heat recovery solutions are rapidly becoming more common’, Blom points out.
TSE is an energy producer operating in the Turku region. Its largest shareholders are Turku Energia (39.5%), a company owned by the City of Turku, and Fortum (49.5%). The remaining shares are divided between the cities of Raisio, Kaarina and Naantali.