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K-State Today

July 17, 2014



National Gas Machinery Lab to dedicate TransCanada Turbocharger High Flow Test Cell

By Cody Catlin

The National Gas Machinery Lab, or NGML, at Kansas State University will dedicate its large turbocharger test cell as the TransCanada Turbocharger High Flow Test Cell at 3 p.m. Monday, July 21, at 245 Levee Drive, Manhattan.

The TransCanada Corp. provided a substantial amount of the financial support for renovations to the test cell. Representatives from both TransCanada and Kansas State University will be present to officially name the test cell. Anyone wishing to participate is welcome to attend.

Since 1994 the lab has supported the natural gas transmission industry through its testing and research of turbocharger performance while providing a real-world classroom where students can gain practical skills, experience an industry safety culture, and develop a disciplined work ethic to supplement their academic education. 

The lab was originally on the K-State Salina campus, but outgrew that building and relocated to 245 Levee Drive in Manhattan in 2000. TransCanada Corp. and the Pipeline Research Council International were instrumental to the lab's early success kick-starting operations in Salina. As a graduate research project, the test cell was initially designed in an open-loop configuration, but later converted to closed-loop operation. Before the most recent renovation, much of the piping and geometry dated back to the open-loop design, not allowing full benefit from the closed-loop configuration. 

"This renovation will significantly enhance the facility and directly benefit NGML's partners," said Byron Jones, lab director. "We cannot thank Curt Pedersen and TransCanada Corp. enough for their generous support and all partners involved in the process. We are now the only testing facility in the United States capable of performance testing every turbocharger used in the natural gas transmission industry."

To reduce pollutant emissions and meet tight EPA environmental regulations, engineers turbocharge massive engines used to transport natural gas throughout the United States, power large marine vehicles, and run nuclear power plant backup generators. A small change in turbocharger performance can lead to a huge change in pollutant emissions. The test cell is a highly sophisticated test stand that allows these large turbochargers to be run under most any condition they would experience in the field. Instrumentation installed throughout the test cell allows researchers to collect data crucial to understanding turbocharger performance.