Benefit from Experienced Field Service Professionals

Written by: John Neely, General Manager, HydroAire Field Service
Publisher: Pumps & Systems / May, 2012

 

A nuclear power plant required field service support for their high energy multi-stage diffuser barrel pump when a feeler gage became lodged inside the pump element. The station had been experiencing a problem with a lube oil pump and the decision was made to flush the lube oil lines. During this process, the plant’s maintenance team recognized that the charge pump’s inboard pump bearing housing dowels had been bent and the rotor was not properly centered on the inboard end. As Murphy’s Law dictates, “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. While the rotor was being centered, a feeler gauge that had been left in the element broke off and became stuck in the inboard end at the first-stage wear ring between the inboard impeller shroud and cover wall.

 

Picture above shows where feeler gage had become lodged in the element.

The rotor had shuttled and rotated a considerable amount during the original attempt to remove the broken remnant. The station contacted a reliable pump aftermarket service provider who had a highly-skilled field service team with the knowledge and experience to provide support. The station wanted to get this pump back online quickly and asked the field service team to work around the clock to retrieve the broken material and complete the pump assembly. The field service team collaborated with the station’s maintenance team to resolve the issues and get the pump back into service.

A bore scope was used to confirm the piece could not be easily extracted without removing the element. The Technical Field Advisor submitted to the station an Element Removal and Installation Procedure which defined the steps for retrieving the broken feeler gage and properly installing the element back into the barrel. Upon approval of the procedure, day and night shifts were scheduled to resolve the issues.

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Repair is an Opportunity to Improve Pump Performance

Written by: Bob Bluse, Hydro East Inc.
Publisher: Pumps & Systems / February, 2012

 

Often all that is needed to improve a pump’s reliability and performance is to provide a high quality inspection and repair. Over time a pump may have been repaired by more than one service provider with varying levels of engineering and technical experience. Tolerances may have been opened up, fits and concentricities may have been lost and materials may have been changed, all of which contribute to reduced performance, loss of reliability and more frequent repairs.

This article highlights the opportunity seized by a coal-fired power station to upgrade a Westinghouse Vertical Pump during the repair process.

 

Background:

The Power Plant’s Unit #4 “Alpha” Circulating Water Pump was scheduled for repair and in the process of removal, the sister pump #4 “Bravo”, exhibited severe vibration and failed in a manner which was believed to have been a result of a broken shaft. The Alpha pump was put back into service and the Bravo pump removed and sent to the repair facility for inspection and emergency repair.

 

Observed Pump Condition:

The general condition of the Bravo pump when received at the repair facility was much worse than anticipated with the top column flange broken about half way around. The entire pump had been hanging from this broken joint leaving a gap of ¼” to ½” at the opening. The keyed coupling (internal to the pump) used to join its two shafts was broken in several pieces, the shaft journals were severely worn to one side and the impeller vanes & suction bell liner surface were also severely worn as expected, considering the significant pump damage.

 

 

After disassembly of the pump, it was also observed that the shaft enclosing tubes had spun in their fits due to not being fitted with any anti-rotation mechanism. This rotation caused damage to the ‘O’-ring fit areas at both ends of the enclosing tube assembly resulting in loss of proper flush water supply to the pump bearings below the packing box. Another issue observed during inspection was that part-to-part alignment of major pump components utilized dowel pins, which are very difficult, if not impossible, to verify.

 

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Air Void Testing for Safety-Related Feed Pumps in Nuclear Power Plants

Written by: Dr. T. Ravisundar, Ravi Somepalli, and Bill Nagle of HydroAire Inc.
Publisher: Pumps & Systems / December, 2011

 

An Interesting Challenge and Cause for Collaboration

A major nuclear power company approached an independent Pump Performance Test Lab in Chicago to discuss a series of tests for their Pacific 4” BFIDS in safety-related service. These auxiliary feed water (AFW) pumps were utilized in two pressurized water reactor plants to supply backup cooling water to the steam generators in the event the main feed water source was interrupted. The plants had been designed to utilize an air void between two motor operated valves to keep separate two different suction sources to the pump. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) guidelines dictated that no more than a 2% air void could be passed through the pump to reliably assure its safety-related function. The nuclear power plant engineers believed the pump could ingest a greater margin of air without damage or impairment to pump performance. The NRC gave the nuclear power company an opportunity to demonstrate the capability of this pump by allowing them to conduct and monitor a series of transient air-void tests at the independent Pump Performance Test Lab.

 

The independent pump performance test lab in Chicago, IL.

Engineers Working Together to Define Test Scope

The nuclear power plant engineers worked closely with the engineers at the Test Lab and a third party engineering consultant to develop the scoping document which defined the tests needed to demonstrate the pump’s capability under a range of scenarios. To design these tests, the team first reviewed the system configuration at the plants.

For added safety, each unit at each plant had one motor driven and one diesel engine driven AFW pump. Each AFW pump had been installed and aligned through valves and piping to take suction from either the non-safety related condensate storage tank (CST) or the nuclear safety related essential service water system (SX). The SX system is the nuclear safety related system that is connected to the plants ultimate heat sink (UHS), which is raw river water. As can be imagined, there is considerable difference in the purity of the water between the CST water and the SX water. Therefore, both plants intentionally built in the air void as a provision for separating these two systems to reduce the chance of SX water contaminating the clean condensate side of the system.

After thorough review, the team issued specifications for ten different sets of test cases which encompassed several operating conditions and well over 35 test scenarios. The tests would cover injection of different void volumes into the pump operating with several variables, some of which included different flow rates, suction pressures, and pump statuses (i.e. operating pump, idle pump with a pump start while suction is being transferred, etc.).

 

Configuring the Test Lab

Once the scope had been clearly defined and agreed upon, the Test Lab engineers set out to configure the Test Lab in a way that would duplicate almost identically the plant’s AFW suction piping set-up. Within 10 days, the Test Lab was configured with a booster pump installed with a variable frequency drive to simulate the SX system as closely as possible so that the safety-related AFW pump could be operated within the same environment as it would function in the plant. The SX water source came from the Test Lab’s 38,000 gallon suppression tank which was fed through the booster pump. The CST, which was simulated by the Test Lab’s suppression tank, was not sent through the booster pump.

 

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Impeller Failure Solution at a Vietnamese Power Plant

Written by: Kwa Soo Teck, Phu My 3 Power Station (Vietnam), & Chandra Verma, Hydro Australia
Publisher: Pumps & Systems / September, 2011

 

 

Phu My 3 BOT Power Station, a Vietnamese power station using combined cycle gas turbine technology and operating at 749 megawatt capacity, had been experiencing some problems with their vertical pumps. The station asked Hydro Australia to assess the damage and assist with a solution.

 

The power plant in Vietnam

 

The vertical pumps were used for the circulating water system. The impeller material was a super duplex and the product being pumped was sea water. Over a period of three years, Phu My 3 had experienced catastrophic failures with the impellers and were unsure of the cause. The first pump was installed in Sept 2003 and the first blade failed in September 2008; the second failure occurred in Sept 2009 and a third failure occurred in June 2010.

On viewing the damaged impellers, which weigh 850 kilograms, it was obvious the quality was poor. The first step in the process was to send over an engineer with a Romer Arm, a 3D coordinate measuring instrument, to reverse engineer the impeller. This data could be used to analyse the existing impeller design.

 

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Engineered Modifications for an Ash Handling Water Pump

Written by: George Harris, Hydro Inc.
Publisher: Pumps & Systems / May, 2009

 

Modifications can be made to many older pumps to improve on their original design. Pump rebuilders with experienced engineering staffs can provide these modifications and upgrades to substantially extend mean time between repair (MTBR) and increase pump longevity. In the following case history, an ash handling water pump that had been experiencing a short operational history was removed from service on an emergency basis because of catastrophic bearing failure caused by poor lubrication.

This pump was shipped to the service center where it was disassembled and inspected. It was observed that the bearings had failed and the rotor had moved axially toward the non-drive end, allowing the second stage impeller to contact the pump casing (see Figure 1).

 

Figure 1

 

Excessive wear was noted at all running clearances. Discussions with the plant subsequently revealed that these pumps have an average MTBR of 18 months. Excess running clearances accompanied by rotor axial movement have resulted in similar failures on sister pumps. Continue reading