Upgraded Boiler Feedwater Pump Improves Efficiency and Adds Flexibility
Times have changed. Not long ago, baseload units came online and went straight to full load for days on end. Now, those same units are being asked to cycle operations to accommodate for variable renewable energy resources.
That can take a toll on equipment such as boiler feedwater pumps. One plant found that upgrading its pumps was the most-effective way to adapt to new operational realities.
As wind and solar power supplies have increased, conventional power plants have been asked to vary output to accommodate for intermittent renewable generation. For many units, that has also resulted in more cycling operation of boiler feedwater pumps.
At the Fort St. Vrain Generating Station in Colorado, greater pump cycling raised a few concerns. The plant’s original boiler feedwater pumps were not designed for frequent starts and stops, which created a higher risk of internal metal parts galling and increased the potential for pump seizure.
The Fort St. Vrain facility has a unique history. It was originally commissioned as a nuclear power station with an innovative high-temperature gas-cooled design. Unfortunately, the cutting-edge design created excessive operating costs and the nuclear plant shut down in 1989.
But that wasn’t the end...