Performance monitoring & troubleshooting with a new individual condenser tube circulating water flow and fouling (ClA/FF) meter - case study



Midwest Generation Joliet Station in Illinois has two coal-fired units, Unit 7 and Unit 8. Roth 550 MW units are located on the Des Plaines River and have been in operation since 1963-1964. The circulating water system is a once-through system comprised of a bar rack, traveling screens, circulating water pumps and reversible condensers. The original condenser tubes on Unit 8 were replaced with similar material in 2005. In 2006, after less than a year of operation, significant microbiological influenced corrosion, or MIC, damage was identified during routine eddy current testing of the tubes.

Later that year, the station decided to test and evaluate new Circulating Water Flow and Fouling (CWFF) instrumentation to determine the cooling water velocities [1] [2]. MTC most likely occurs under stagnant conditions or in operations with low or intermittent flow [3]. The objective was multifold, to measure cooling water velocities and to examine the effect of other variables in the ongoing MIC attack of the SS condenser tubes. In addition to providing useful information regarding the root cause for MIC, the study unveiled a number of other condenser performance-related issues presented in this article.

Units 7 and 8 share a total of four circulating water pumps. All four pumps are identical in model and rated pumping capacity. The condenser configuration is presented in Figure 1. As mentioned previously, the condenser is equipped with circulating water flow reversing valves, which remove the macrofouling from the tube sheet. Joliet Station experiences rapid debris (macro) fouling and so, as a standard operation, the condenser circulating water is generally reversed on a daily cycle. The primary method for microfouling control is chlorination. Additionally, the station utilizes air drying to remove silt and biofouling by periodically taking a water box out of service, opening the doors and installing hoses connected to an air moving system that circulates warm air through the tubes and dries the fouled material to a point where it is flushed away when the water box is placed back in service. The drying method also is used for a long- and short-term lay-up of the condensers.

Intek's circulating water flow and fouling (CWFF) meter utilizes thermal sensing technology to measure the circulating water flow through an unobstructed flow tube. This technology also enables quantification of heat transfer coefficient. The flow data is single or bi-directional and routed to a process computer for data logging and a range of computations [4]. Important features of the CWFF are that it is accurate, reliable and noninvasive to the flow measurement. For most steam surface condensers used in the power industry, any flow and fouling instniment must be capable of surviving long term submersion, exposure to unfiltered circulating water and allow ease of on-line or off-line tube cleaning methods; the CWFF is well suited to these conditions.

The flow meters were installed in the upper bundle of one Of die four outlet water boxes (82East) o( the Unit 8 condenser. A photograph of two of the four installed meters is shown in Figure 2. Brackets anchored at two adjacent tubes were used to provide a mechanical brace from the meter to the tubesheet to overcome a concern that violent flow conditions during reverse flow could stress the adhesive used to attach the meters to the monitored tube. Meter cables were attached to tubesheet with epoxy and routed through a port in the outlet waterbox. The installation locations for the CWFF sensor's were carefully selected based on a critical examination of the condenser configuration, so that a very small number of key measuring points provided data for meaningful analysis.

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