Case Study: Upgrade of Boiler Feed Water Pumps

Boiler Feed Water pump upgraded with Vespel® CR-6100 componenets

BB5 boiler feed water pump upgraded to Vespel® CR-6100 with the PERF-Seal® design for the wear parts

Last week, we wrote about a boiler feed pump case history where the customer paid dearly because they didn’t use Vespel® CR-6100. Repeated failures due to pump seizure led them to increase the clearance at the wear rings, resulting in a lifetime of lower efficiency and higher operating costs.
Published right next to that unfortunate history was another boiler feed case study where the site and the shop involved took a set of 50-year-old boiler feed pumps and made them run better than when they were new. Unlike the first case history, they used Vespel® CR-6100.

The 50-Year-Old Pumps

The boiler feed pumps were originally installed in 1970 with 1.1MW electric motors. They are 8-stage BB5 pumps with 80 bar (1200 psi) differential pressure. Over many years of wear, erosion, and mechanical seal failures, the pumps needed to be overhauled.
The internal wear components were found to be running with clearance more than double the API design values for metal wear parts. The excessive clearance at the balance drum created high-velocity flow and erosion at the pump discharge cover. The seal design was outdated and the seal flush design was not correct. Some of the old pump components had very poor concentricity.

What They Did

The pump internals were repaired as needed. Obsolete parts were re-engineered and restored to good concentricity. The seal was updated and flush plan was corrected.
For the wear components, Vespel® CR-6100 wear rings, inter-stage rings, and balance drum bushing were installed with the patented Boulden PERF-Seal® design. Clearance at the wear components was reduced to approximately 50% of the API minimum values for metal parts. To save time and money in the shop, the existing metal wear components were re-machined and used as holders for the Vespel® CR-6100 components.

Results

Compared to the worn out condition, the pumps gained 15% efficiency after the overhaul. Depending on the local power price, this represents $100,000–$150,000 per year in lower operating costs.
Compared to the original design curve, the pump is 4% more efficient than when it was new, representing $30,000-$40,000 of lower operating costs. Maintaining this efficiency in the coming years will result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of savings.

Conclusion

If you are buying or overhauling a boiler feed water pump, specify Vespel®CR-6100 for all of the stationary wear parts (the rotating parts will remain metal). You’ll have a better pump that is easier to operate with a lower life cycle cost due to higher efficiency. If you have any pump where you are looking to increase efficiency, contact Boulden today. We can help you increase pump efficiency in most pumping services.
If you have an urgent repair and need a great material fast, we have a large inventory of material in stock and can supply raw material or machined parts with very short lead times. If you have dimensions, quantities, and basic service conditions, simply request a quote. We are here to help you.
Until next time, stay safe and healthy. And don’t use metal parts in your boiler feed water pumps.