Metrology for Improved Power Plant Efficiency

Short Name: Powerplants, Project Number: ENG06
Aerial View of a Coal Fired Power Station

Making power plants more efficient: Better measurement gives better control

Improving the efficiency of traditional nuclear, coal and gas plants will make a significant contribution to energy conservation and reduced emissions. This EMRP project brought together a wide range of metrology expertise and disciplines from nine NMIs to reduce the measurement uncertainty of important control parameters (temperature, flow, thermal energy and electrical output) of power plants to support more efficient operations. It also conducted research into the advanced materials used in future turbines. The total results of the research work will allow for an overall additional enhancement of energy efficiency of 2–3 % for all types of large power plants, and therefore will result in a comparable amount of reduction of emissions.


The project developed:

  • Improved temperature measurements in the form of reduced uncertainties for measurements at the temperatures and techniques used in power plants.  For contact thermometry this enables a reduction in measurement uncertainty in steam power plants from 8 K to 3 K at temperatures up to 700 °C.  For non-contact thermometry the understanding of the spectral emissivity of turbine materials was improved above 800 °C and dedicated high-temperature fixed points were developed for the calibration laboratory of a manufacturer of radiation thermometers.
  • Improved facilities and methods for thermophysical properties above up to 1500 °C. The facilities for thermal diffusivity, emissivity and specific heat were developed to assess existing and new high performance materials and coatings used in turbines in gas power plants.
  • Improved flow measurements via improved extrapolation models for the performance of a range of flow sensors at the high temperatures, flow rates and pressures in power plants. The models were proven experimentally to be metrologically valid and allow for a reduction of the uncertainty of flow rate measurements from approximately 3 % to 0.5 %.
  • Improved electricity measurements. A complete system was developed to perform fast and reliable electrical output measurements of a power plant with low uncertainty (better than 0.1 % under laboratory conditions and 0.15 % on-site).

Delivering impact

The improved measurement capabilities developed enable manufacturers of measurement instrumentation to offer enhanced products that will support improved power plant efficiency. One company has developed a novel flow meter based on the project’s outputs and is currently undergoing on-site testing in order to gain regulatory approval for the device. Furthermore the operators of two power plants applied the project’s outputs related to flow and temperature measurement and estimated a potential efficiency improvement of 1.5 %. 


Coordinator: Thomas Lederer (PTB)

For more information, please contact the EURAMET Management Support Unit:

Phone: +44 20 8943 6666