Optimizing Reliability Through Material Upgrades

centrifugal pump test

The 14-stage boiler feedwater pump installed for testing to ensure that the performance achieves desired operating conditions.

At a combined cycle power plant, a boiler feedwater pump was experiencing problems. Dr. Gary Dyson of Hydro, Inc. and Larry White of HydroTex discuss how major cost savings were provided through engineering analysis, material upgrades and testing for validation.

A combined cycle power plant in the Pan Handle region of Texas found themselves experiencing repeated failure on one of their 14 stage boiler feedwater (BB3) pumps. The pump had recently been modified by the supplier to provide a short-term solution. This in turn reduced the mean time between failure (MTBF) of the pump, requiring continued support and further analysis.

Combined cycle plants are comprised of both gas and steam power production technologies, capable of producing up to 50% more electricity than traditional simple-cycle plants. With the ever-increasing demand for energy, this technology is becoming increasingly relevant in throughout the pump industry. As such, it is highly important that these plants operate at peak efficiency.

Originally, the stationary inserts at several locations in the pump assembly were modified in such a way that increased the likelihood of friction and galling of the stationary and rotating parts of the pump assembly. The consecutive failures experienced on site were repeatedly of the same failure mode, which strongly points toward a pump design problem.

Read the full article at worldpumps.com

An Engineered Battle Against Cavitation

Impeller Cavitation

With inlet backflow recirculation present, the impellers were experiencing horrific vane breakage and cavitation.

A power station’s cooling water pumps were constantly being repaired, costing the plant millions of dollars in costs and service time due to the severe operational disruption and logistics required to remove and transport such large equipment. Previous attempts made by the station to improve the reliability of the impellers through upgraded material selections had little impact on reliability.

It was clear that something had to change as the station’s pump reliability was now a major financial focus. The many vane cracks, cavitation and broken vane sections that were weld-repaired during inspections throughout the pumps’ life cycles prompted the station to investigate a more permanent solution to the issue.

During the last repair, the reliability engineer inspected the impellers and found the cavitation was similar to those reported during prior repairs. An engineering repair company that specializes in fluid dynamics was asked to investigate the root cause of the continuing pump issues. The team conducted an investigation on the system layout and operation parameters.

The results of the forensic analysis showed that the impeller blades were suffering cavitation to the low-pressure side of the vanes. Additionally, the cavitation and cracked vanes toward the eye also indicated that the sizing of the inlet and its associated blade angles may be active factors in the repeated failures.

Read the full article at www.pumpsandsystems.com

Finding flaws with Forensic Analysis

A fertilizer plant in the Gulf of Mexico experienced a suction cavity high pressure ceiling leakage in one of their BB5 boiler feed pumps. By utilizing a forensic analysis, Hydro discovered a simple shortcut in the manufacturing process was costing thousands of dollars in repairs and great inconvenience.

Written by: Pete Erickson and  Todd Soignet
Published by: World Pumps

A BB5 barrel pump at a fertilizer plant along the Gulf of Mexico experienced reduced capacity due to suction cavity high pressure sealing leakage. This was not the first time their boiler feed pumps had experienced a loss of capacity. The pumps were only about a year and a half old and were part of a major expansion project at the plant.

Due to high lead times, the plant decided not to continue repairs, but instead do a simple swap out, when a Hydro service center was recommended by the client’s sister plant as a credible supplier who had the technical and engineering expertise needed to rebuild pumps to the highest quality standards.

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Beware the Cheap Fix: You May Get What You Pay For

Fossil plant required an emergency rebuild when poor quality repair caused a holiday shutdown. 

Written by: Dr. Gary Dyson & Mohamed Mohamed
Published by: Pumps & Systems

The consequences of poor quality repairs can result in premature failure, unplanned outages and higher repair costs because follow up after the initial attempt is considered an emergency repair. That was the situation when a major fossil plant experienced an emergency failure of a six-stage, boiler feed pump element. It was a quiet holiday night when the pump had to be pulled due to lack of flow, causing a plant shutdown. Unfortunately, when the plant tried to set the spare element up on bearings, employees were unable to turn the rotor. In this case, the emergency occurred when the repaired spare element had to be used immediately after initial failure. Thus, the problems with the previous repairs were uncovered.

Because it was the holiday season, the plant’s usual service provider could not respond in the required time. Another Hydro was called in to assess the problem, engineer a solution and save the plant thousands of dollars in downtime.

Field service was mobilized to provide labor in two 24-hour shifts.

Worthington element

Image 1. Worthington element set on precision v-blocks, checking vertical and horizontal clearances at the suction end and discharge end. These checks are used to see if element is concentric.

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Pump Renovation Restores Balance

Vibration issues with a two-stage pump forced a major steel manufacturer to remove the pump from service. Due to incorrect weights welded on an impeller, a steel manufacturer called upon Hydro to repair and balance a two-stage pump.

Written by: Ken Babusiak (Hydro, Inc.)
Published by: World Pumps

The pump was experiencing the vibration during the spring and summer months of 2016. The steel company sent the pump to HydroAire’s Chicago, IL facility in September of that year. HydroAire was able to determine the cause of the vibration and created a solution that got the pump back in operating condition. The pump was installed and back in service by February, 2017.

The initial testing and analysis deter-mined that the impeller had large weights welded onto it. The steel company was concerned for many reasons, especially because the staff knew that using weights was not the correct way to balance an impeller. This caused the steel manufacturer to question the manner in which the pump had previously been repaired.

Weights added to impellers

Adding weights to impellers is generally not standard practice.

Where not to position the weights.

Where not to position the weights.

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