Analysis & Engineering Upgrades Solve Ring Section Pump Failure

A major power plant in the United States experienced high vibration and recirculation issues with several ring section (BB4) boiler feed pumps, resulting in multiple catastrophic failures and unplanned outages. This case study details one of the pumps that was shipped to an aftermarket pump service center for a full analysis, troubleshooting, repair plan, rebuild and performance testing.

In combined-cycle plants, the demand for robust, yet expensive, barrel pumps diminished as the industry moved toward less expensive segmental rings pumps. Due to the recent shifts in the power industry, operators often face a shorter mean time between repair (MTBR), internal wear and high vibration issues on newly installed units.

After experiencing numerous boiler feed pump performance and reliability issues at their power plant, the plant owner opted to pursue a comprehensive root cause analysis and repair plan with an aftermarket pump service center in Los Angeles, California. The investigation ultimately revealed a series of underlying issues linked to the performance problems and unexpected pump failures.

Video: https://vimeo.com/452266877

Source: https://www.pumpsandsystems.com/analysis-engineering-upgrades-solve-ring-section-pump-failure

diagram, engineering drawing

Wireless Sensor Data Integration Into Existing Plant Historian

A large American energy company wanted a new data collection system to be integrated into its site historian along with process trending software to better diagnose system-related issues that can lead to maintenance issues.

Thanks to the help of an aftermarket service company, the energy company combined multiple sources of data and can now view complex mechanical vibration phenomena in parallel with plant process data. By comparing the two sets of data side by side, plant personnel will correlate process conditions with mechanical vibration data.

The service provider’s history of pump and rotating equipment knowledge helped to provide actionable analysis of pumps and other rotating equipment health—and a mechanism to provide additional engineering solutions to complex problems. Combined with the energy company’s focus on reliability and a history of maintaining their equipment, this system provided an improved method of data collection and analysis.

Source: https://www.pumpsandsystems.com/wireless-sensor-data-integration-existing-plant-historian

The Dangers of Operating Pumps at Low Capacity

 

Operating at low flow places the machine under a great amount of duress. It is always wise to have a mental picture of what is happening within the passages of the machine to understand why this is the case.

The days have long passed where pump vibrations were viewed as a matter of mechanical balance. Now, we recognize that even if the pump had perfect mechanical balance, it would still exhibit vibrations.

The intensity of this remnant vibration turns out to be flow related with its minimum level being at or around best efficiency point (BEP).

Source: https://www.pumpsandsystems.com/dangers-operating-pumps-low-capacity

Wear in Centrifugal Pumps

Illustration of wear at the volute lip.

Centrifugal pumps are sometimes used in environments where the pumped product contains suspended solids. While some pumps are specifically designed for solid handling or slurry applications, normal centrifugal pumps do not contain features to prevent performance degradation from the impact of solids.

There are a few key signs that a conventional centrifugal pump is suffering from erosive and abrasive wear. Here are assessment and mitigation strategies to be considered and applied when this occurs.

Particles are a problem in a centrifugal pump due to the way the machine adds velocity to the liquid as it passes up the impeller channels. In general, the higher the speed at the tip of the impeller, the more energy that is imparted to any particle that is suspended within the liquid. This energy can then cause damage to anything it impacts.

Source: https://www.pumpsandsystems.com/wear-centrifugal-pumps 

Root Cause Analysis Uncovers Casting Defects

Efficiency and reliability are at the forefront of a successful pumping system. As such, unplanned outages can be a detrimental disturbance to the overall operation. In this case, the end user’s high pressure multistage  BB5 barrel pump was experiencing severe vibration, unstable performance, and failure in the field leading to unit shutdown.

This particular unit, used in boiler feedwater operations, is critical to the plant’s uptime and throughput. Furthermore, continued failures can cause growing costs due to inevitable maintenance and repairs, often overlooking a long term solution. With each unplanned outage, the plant could face a significant loss in capital.

Previously, the pump had been running for six months before experiencing catastrophic failure, requiring a shutdown and removal for further analysis. Initially, the unit’s damaged components were repaired by welding, and the volute was reassembled and installed for use. Upon its installation, the power plant placed the unit back into service but encountered a second emergency shutdown after two months in operation.

Video: https://vimeo.com/362808909

Source: https://www.pumpsandsystems.com/root-cause-analysis-uncovers-casting-defects-critical-boiler-feedwater-unit