ASME-Landmark:Curtis 5000-kW Vertical Turbine


Built in 1903, the 5,000-kilowatt Curtis steam turbine-generator was the most powerful in the world at the time of its construction. It stood just 25 feet high, much shorter than the 60-foot reciprocating engine-generator of a similar capacity, and took up considerably less floor area. The combined innovation and effectiveness of the 5,000-kilowatt Curtis steam turbine-generator helped to stimulate the growth of modern electrical generation in large central stations nationwide.

The Curtis steam turbine was the creation of two men: patent lawyer and inventor Charles G. Curtis and engineer William Le Roy Emmet, who developed the turbine in Schenectady. Curtis initially proposed the design and construction of a new turbine that was powered by steam. After two years of research and experimentation, Emmet was called in to fix design problems. Using Curtis's design, Emmet was able to create a 5000-kilowatt steam turbine-generator. The new generator was a hit with manufacturers worldwide who wanted a turbine that produced more power, took up less space, was simple in operation, and consumed small amounts of oil. Other advantages included an ability to use steam from any stage of the turbine for heating without the troubles that large-scale use brings with compound reciprocating engines.

After years of use, the original 5000-kilowatt steam turbine-generator was returned to the General Electric plant in Schenectady, New York. See ASME website for more information