The Truth About Turbines: Straight Talk About Prime Movers

May 2, 2024 By: X-Group


The Truth About Turbines: Straight Talk About Prime Movers

When it comes to power generation, the choice of prime mover can significantly impact the efficiency, reliability, and overall performance of a system. Among the various prime mover options available, gas turbine engines and reciprocating engines are two popular choices, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we'll take a closer look at these two types of engines, comparing and contrasting them to understand the conditions under which one might be favored over the other for power generation applications.

Turbine Engines:

Turbine engines, also known as gas turbines, are widely used in power generation due to their high power-to-weight ratio, efficiency, and reliability. These engines operate on the principle of converting the energy of a fluid into mechanical energy through the rotation of a turbine. Turbines can be fueled by various sources, including natural gas, diesel, and even hydrogen.

Advantages of Turbine Engines:

  1. High Power Output: Turbines can generate a large amount of power compared to reciprocating engines of similar size.
  2. Efficiency: Turbines are highly efficient, especially at constant, high loads.
  3. Ease of Maintenance: Turbine engines have fewer moving parts compared to reciprocating engines, resulting in lower maintenance requirements and longer service intervals.
  4. Suitability for Continuous Operation: Turbines are well-suited for continuous operation, making them ideal for baseload power generation applications.
  5. Waste Heat Recovery: Turbine engines exhaust a significant amount of heat. When waste heat recovery is applied to turbine engine installations, the efficiency can reach up to 93%.

NovaLT 16 Hydrogen-Ready Turbine Engine

Waukesha VHP Reciprocating Engine

Reciprocating Engines:

Reciprocating engines, on the other hand, operate by converting the linear motion of pistons into rotary motion to generate power. These engines are commonly used in smaller-scale power generation applications, such as backup generators and distributed energy systems.

Advantages of Reciprocating Engines:

  1. Flexibility: Reciprocating engines are highly flexible and can quickly start and stop, making them suitable for applications where rapid load changes are frequent.
  2. Lower Initial Cost: Reciprocating engines typically have a lower initial cost compared to turbine engines.
  3. Modular Design: Reciprocating engines can be easily scaled up or down by adding or removing units, providing scalability and redundancy.
Choosing The Best Solution, or Solving for 'X'

While both turbine engines and reciprocating engines have their advantages, selecting the right solution for a specific power generation application can be complex. This is where X-Group comes in.

X-Group is a vendor-neutral company specializing in cross-platform energy solutions. With partnerships with the world's leading turbine and reciprocating engine manufacturers, including some of the world's only hydrogen-ready turbines, X-Group's power system SMEs can provide unbiased guidance to clients, helping them select the best prime mover for their specific needs.

Whether it's a turbine engine for high-power, continuous operation or a reciprocating engine for its flexibility and lower initial cost, new, surplus or remanufactured, X-Group can support clients through the entire project lifecycle. From initial consultation to installation, commissioning, and ongoing maintenance, X-Group ensures that clients get the most efficient and reliable solution tailored to their requirements.

X-Group Lifecycle Support


Most power system providers limit support to their own brands.
X-Group sets you free to choose cross-platform energy solutions that reduce cost and carbon footprint. We believe companies should never put product sales ahead of their customers' success. Our vendor-neutral approach considers all possibilities of OEM hardware, optimizing for your needs, budget and future. We listen and help you solve for X.

Benefit from new technologies for intelligent ESG performance growth, with lifecycle support that will take you from feeling cornered to confident. Our microgrid X-PERTS will walk with you through every project phase, from concept to completion for all rotating equipment, and guide you with the capability and synergy our robust group of companies brings.

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