MME Students Tour Entergy’s Ninemile Power Plant

On August 25, 2017 the Tulane Master of Management in Energy (MME) took a trip to Entergy’s Ninemile natural gas power plant located in Westwego, Louisiana.

The plant, a combined cycle 600 megawatt nominal capacity facility is among the most efficient in the state. The plant utilizes what is known as a combined cycle design, which combines a Brayton cycle with a Rankine cycle.

This innovative design sounds complicated, but is relatively easy to understand. The process begins with the Brayton cycle. Which involves natural gas being consumed inside of a large natural gas fired turbine, creating electricity. From here little is wasted as the exhaust gases from the turbine pass through the Heat Recovery Steam Generator (HRSG) which uses their heat to boil water and create steam. This steam then turns another turbine adding to the efficiency of the power plant.

All said and done the plant provides upwards of 50% thermal efficiency, a major improvement over some of the older single cycle plants which often provide thermal efficiency numbers in the mid 30% range. Which in the end all helps to contribute to a cleaner world and a cleaner Louisiana.

The opportunity to tour a working power plant is a rare one, even for those who work in the energy industry, So when Tulane’s MME students were given an opportunity to see what happens behind the scenes we excitedly grabbed our hard hats, steel toed boots and make our way towards Westwego.

The trip was extremely informative and wide ranging. From touring the control room where we could see the up to the second data from both the plant’s energy production and the demand from the grid, to having the opportunity to stand next to one of the plant’s immense turbines.

The turbines are a sight to behold. It’s not too often you get the opportunity to stand next to an object that is the size of a house and is capable of rotating 60 times a second! (3600 RPM)

All of the MME students were very appreciative to our hosts at Ninemile and to Entergy for providing us with the unique opportunity to tour their plant. We learned a lot and we hope the excellent employees at Ninemile enjoyed having us as guests.

Nicholas Brucker
Master of Management in Energy Candidate 2018