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Parthiban, Venus Energy Audit System Problem The boiler parameters are 60 TPH, 67 kg/cm2g and 485 deg C. The fuels fired are biogas & rice husk. The boiler was designed for 100 % rice husk and rice husk & biogas combination to an extent of 20:80 by heat output. The boiler is with a fluidized bed combustor with overbed feeding of rice husk & over bed biogas burners. The biogas is designed for under bed gas firing as well by means of nozzles welded to Distributor plate. The boiler was commissioned during October 2006. Up to April 2008, the boiler was on a load of 30-35 TPH. From May 08 to August 08, the load was about 40 TPH. During September 08, the boiler was on a load of 45 TPH. From October 2008 to September 2009, the load was 50 55 TPH. The leakages had commenced from October 2008. The bank tube expansion joints at mud drum started developing leakages. The failure was experienced almost every month. Totally 100 tubes have been plugged till September 2009. Pattern of tube failure- first experience The bank tubes are expanded in mud drum & steam drum. The mud drum has 3 grooves & steam drum has 4 grooves for mechanical strength. The steam drum is of 90 mm thick & mud drum is of 63 mm thick. This is quite sufficient for the intended service pressure. There are 9 rows of bank tubes in the front half & 10 rows of bank tubes at the rear. All the 100 tubes joints had leaked in mud drum and that too more in the rows no 2 to 6. In addition on the right side rear rows of tube joints also leaked. All the leakages have occurred at the rolled joints. The data as given by power plant in charge is enclosed in annexure. Pattern of tube failure- second experience All the 352 no bank tubes were replaced in the boiler rear side in first week of September 2009. The leakage still developed at rear and this time at front bank too. The tubes had burst on 6th January 2010. At the time of the visit the failed tube was in situ and it could be inferred that the tube is burst due to starvation. See photographs in annexure. It was confirmed that the water level control had been normal. The burst tube is now on the front side of the boiler bank and on the right side where the gas burners are located. The data on the number of tubes that leaked are shown in annexure. Cause analysis A. Temperature profile In this boiler the bank tubes generate considerable steam as per the fuels firing combinations, type of fuel feed system and the arrangement of biogas burners. The inlet & outlet gas temperatures at boiler bank can be 750 deg C & 400 deg C. This is as per OEM design data. There are 19 rows of bank tubes. Out of which first 10 rows are inside the baffle box. The remaining 9 rows of tubes at the rear bank are thus intended to be downcomers. The no of downcomers is on the higher side than what is required. If we consider a CR no of 18, four rows of rear bank tubes are sufficient for downcomer

velocity of 2 m/s. The lesser the mass flow rate in the downcomer tube, the film boiling can take place in some tubes depending on the heat input. When the circulation is retarded, the first stage is the thermal growth of tubes. Next stage is tube burst. On thermal growth the tube can pull out of the drum. B. Absence of positive downcomers Positive downcomers is a concept which is used to ensure positive circulation in bank tubes in the event a high heat flux changes and retards the downward flow in the intended downcomer. This is omitted in this design. In may be possible to forego positive downcomers provided heat flux does not lead to steaming. End rows of bank tubes are usually with bigger diameter tubes and are insulated from heat transfer for positive downward flow. With biogas burners the heat input can be more as compared to rice husk. See figure in annexure. C. Location of overbed gas burners & burning of SH coil spacers All the over bed gas burners are located on one side, that is- on the boiler right side. There is some preferential high gas flow on right side. This is confirmed by the damage happed to SH coil spacers. See the photographs in annexure 1. The sulfur present in biogas can cause more damage to SS plate at higher temperatures. D. Burner front plate design The gas burner should be selected with longer flame in order to utilize the waterwall of the furnace. The burner front plate used for flame stability covers the entire combustion flow area. This results in shorter flame. It is advised to reduce the diameter of the burner front plates so that flame is longer. See the photo in annexure 1. This can avoid excess heat input to the right side of the boiler. E. Incomplete work in steam baffle box It is seen that the baffle box welding to the steam drum is incomplete and we can see the possibility of steam leakage direct from baffle box to downcomer tubes. This can also affect circulation as the steam can enter the tubes and make the flow reverse. Likely improper fit up during plugging & retubing can also lead to steam entry in to the downcomer. F. Mismatch in cyclone separator to its connecting piece at baffle box The cyclone separators fitment in steam drum for first stage steam purification is improper. Its mating flanges are not machined. There is gap all around. The leaking steam water mixture can affect the circulation again by allowing the steam to enter in to the downcomer tubes. See photograph in annexure. Fully flanged cyclone separators can prevent the steam leakages. G. The positioning of gas burners The elevation of the burners could have been lower for improved radiation heat pick up by the bed coils. The burners could have been tilted to make use of the furnace effectively. This also prevents the one sided higher heat input. The bed coils could have been better utilized. At present the bed temperature is hardly 650 deg C. The gas introduced at bed would not burn properly due to low bed

temperature. Summary on the cause The excess downcomers and the absence of positive downcomers along with one sided heat input & high heat input to boiler bank had led to the tube expansion joint failures. The last incident is the film boiling phenomenon which had led to the failure. Short term action to prevent recurrence of tube failure 1. The steam drum baffle box shall be seal welded in the presence of OEM engineer. This will ensure no steam enters in to the adjacent downcomer bank tubes. See figure 1 in annexure 1. 2. Proper fitment of steam drum internals shall be ensured to avoid steam water splashing below the NWL. 3. Maximize the gas input from gas nozzles at DP plate level. 4. Modify the overbed biogas burners for long flame. 5. Reduce the steam generation in boiler to 45 TPH as before. 6. Stop using the over bed gas burner that is closer to boiler rear. 7. Lower the bed height to 300 mmWC so that the bed temperature improves. That is, the air box pressure has to be 400 mmWC only. 8. Install additional thermocouples in between SSH & PSH and in between the PSH & boiler bank. These thermocouples shall be in gas path to a length of 500mm. The thermocouples shall be fitted a guide pipe only and not in a thermowell. Thermowell can succumb to ash deposits and later show less temperature. A thermocouple exposed to flue gas directly will indicate the correct temperature and is cleanable from deposits. With this thermocouples correct temperature profile can be known and can be used to regulate the biogas flow in the overbed burners. The present thermocouples show much less temperature that does not match the steam side heat pickup. Permanent remedy 1. The downcomer tubes requirement has to be calculated and the baffle box has to be repositioned. 2. External downcomers from steam drum to mud drum can be provided as the drum length is available. In this case also at least 4 rows of rear bank tubes have to be outside the baffle box to ensure they work as downcomers only. 4 nos of 125 nb pipes may be provided per side. These become positive downcomers. See annexure 1. 3. Alternately the extreme side rows of bank tubes can be insulated from heat transfer by means of refractory tiles. Totally 19 + 19 end rows would become positive downcomers. It is learnt that M/S CBL have started using this concept. In this case 4 rows of rear end tubes are to be outside the baffle box to work as downcomers. M/S CBL to decide what suits them. See figure 3 in annexure 1. 4. Gas burners have to be lowered in case the burner modification has not helped to eliminate the one sided gas flow.


ANNEXURE 1 : Photographs and figures

Photo 1: The bank tube burst experienced this time. The bank tube comes in the front portion & on right side of the boiler where the gas burners are located.

Photo 2: A view of the primary SH spacers. The spacer on right side of the boiler is burnt. This informs the gas can be higher temperature and the biogas flue gas is not mixing well with rest of the flue gas.

Photo 3: View of the secondary SH spacer. The burning of the spacer confirms the higher gas temperature in this zone and the one sided flue gas flow from the burners. The spacers are eaten away on right side of the boiler only.

Photo 4: Gas burner with fully covered flame stabliser plate. The gas seems to come out from annular gap between the flame tube & front plate. This results shorter flame. Longer flame is advised.

Photo 5: The gas burner location can be lowered to improve bed heat absorption. Even tilting down the burner can do. Since the biogas is a lean gas its flame temperature can not be more than 1000 deg C. Moreover the flue gas from bed will drift the flame upwards.

Photo 6: Color of the drum is OK. The red hue can be due to recent shut downs.

Photo 7: The steam drum baffle box is not leak proof. The water can directly go to the demister sections causing carryover.

Photo 8: The steam drum baffle box is not leak proof. The bottom plate is not seal welded to drum. The steam water mixture that leaks out will enter in to the downcomers nearby. The baffle box is seen located right after the first bank tube at the rear.

Photo 9: The demister chevrons and baffle box show the oxides present. This can be due to recent shut downs. During start up bottom point blow down is advised after the fire is put off. At still water condition, the loose dust would come to bottom points.

Photo 10: The cyclone separator & connecting duct to baffle box is not with properly matched flanges. Steam water mixture can leak out causing carryover & turbulence in boiler water. The steam can enter in to downcomer tubes by this. It is better to avoid the flange. Thermax uses a fully flanged cyclone to avoid leakage.

Photo 11: The boiler gas outlet ducts are provided with inner liner plates. These plates have got distorted and com off. The plate shall be removed.

Photo 12: The lines plates have come off from sides of duct as well. The distorted plate is of nuisance value only now as it can lead to erosion of boiler bank..

Photo 13: The leaked joints in the mud drum. All tubes are the rear bank only. The pattern is in the centre & at right extreme.

Photo 14: Old tubes that failed on front side also.

Photo 15: New tubes that failed only in the centre. This is only boiler front. The recently burst tubes are not marked.

Photo 16: The baffle box modification to convert to more risers and less downcomers so that circulation improves without steaming in downcomer.

Photo 17: The way in which positive downcomers are to be added.

Photo 18: Possibility of external downcomers with 4 nos of 125 nb pipes on both sides of drum.