Monster Machines: The World’s Biggest And Best Gas Turbine Can Power 400,000 Homes

If you thought the GE90 aircraft engine was a masterpiece of modern engineering, just get a load of this beauty. General Electric’s 9HA is the most advanced and efficient gas turbine available today and though it may not be able to lift a 787 off the ground, this potent electricity producer can easily power a mid-size metropolis.

Nicknamed “Harriet”, this turbine is the product of more than a billion dollars of GE development. Each turbine is constructed from cutting-edge materials like single-crystal fan blades and ceramic matrix composites — many of which were first designed for the 90x — built to operate under higher temperatures (and therefore produce more energy per unit of time) without breaking down, allowing it to hit a staggering 61 per cent energy production efficiency.

“This is industry leading technology,” Mike Gradoia, product marketing manager for Harriet, told GE Reports. “Fifteen years ago you would need twice as many units to deliver the same amount of power. But they would have been less efficient, burning more fuel and therefore generating more emissions.”

What’s more, the 9HA is exceedingly smart for an industrial mechanization. Each turbine is packed with more than 3000 mechanical, temperature and exhaust sensors which keep tabs on every aspect of the turbine’s generation. This constant stream of data is then fed into an adjacent monitoring centre, though GE is working to integrate the data flow into the burgeoning Industrial Internet.

Since the 9HA takes just 10 minutes to spool up from a dead stop to full power, it’s an ideal solution for hybrid energy production schemes — say, pairing one of these with a solar or wind array — because it can quickly come online to augment the sagging production rate of the renewables. And by plugging the 9HA into the Industrial Internet, it would be able to react to changing conditions without the need for human guidance. [GE ReportsGE]