Turbine shaft material has its own natural frequency, when turbine rotates on such a speed that frequency of shaft become close to its natural frequency, machine causes noise & high vibrations because of resonance due to matching of frequency. Running of Steam "TURBINE" on this speed is avoided & this is called Critical speed. A turbine may have more then one critical speed, which may depend upon number of couplings.
A second critical speed is when the Turbine blade tips approach the speed of sound. This effectively limits the speed of a turbine and explains why power plants tend to have turbines of the same capacity.
Critical speed of the turbine is the rotor speed at which natural frequency of the assembled rotor (rotor shaft with discs, blades, shrouding strips etc in assembled condition) becomes equal to the operating speed. This is usually a expressed as a range (critical speed range).
There are multiple critical speeds. However, the operating speed of the turbine may be above or below the first / lowest critical speed. Accordingly it is called as a flexible or a rigid rotor.
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