Tour de Force

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:

Crowds of people lining the roads in France is not an unusual sight in July but, rather than cheering the Tour de France riders these crowds have been waiting for the transport for GE's 9HA gas turbine, said to be the world's largest and most efficient, nicknamed HArriet.

With the use of advanced coatings, combustors and compressor parts originally developed by GE Aviation for jet engines, the 9HA is said to achieve efficiency of above 61% when combined with a steam turbine. Once in operation, the turbine is said to be able to generate up to 600MW in combined cycle, enough to power the equivalent of approximately 700,000 French homes.

HArriet's transporter measures 109m in length and weighs approximately 800 tonnes – almost twice the weight of a fully loaded Boeing 747 – and is being pushed and pulled by four trucks. It has been travelling from the GE factory in Belfort to a power plant operated by EDF in Bouchain more than 330 miles away, a journey three years in the planning that will travel along roads and canals.

"The atmosphere along the way has been a lot like the Tour, except that we rarely break 10mph," said Sebastien Patard, from GE's fulfilment and logistics team. "This is one of the largest public transports in Europe's history and we're surrounded by people everywhere we stop."

The team checked every curve in the road and built digital models of bridges and bypasses to make sure the convoy could ride over them. GE and local communities across northern France have also invested in road improvements to prepare for the transports.

This is the second 9HA to leave Belfort in a year but the convoys will soon become a more common sight. GE has a backlog of 16 units and the company said it has been 'technically selected' for 53 more.

The 9HA turbine, a.k.a. HArriet

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