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315 S. Locust St. Denton, TX 76201 940-898-1173 entech@entechdesign.


APPLICATION NOTE Product: Ash Tracker Industry: Power Utility Coal-fired Power Stations Application: Water Impounded Bottom Ash Collection Systems

Application Description Ash is a by-product of the combustion process in power generating stations that burn coal as a primary fuel. Combustion takes place in a boiler that is actually a large open furnace. The walls of the furnace are lined with pipes that carry water to produce steam that powers a turbine generator. Ash is present in two forms: 1) Fly-ash, a lighter material that exits the boiler in the flue-gas stream at the top of the boiler. 2) Bottom ash, a heavy, sometimes molten material that falls to the bottom of the boiler. It ranges from small, sand-like material to large masses that form on the superstructure of the boiler and fall violently to the bottom.

Collection Systems Bottom ash collection systems often consist of water-filled tanks or hoppers located under the boiler. They vary in size, shape and other design aspects. Water in the hopper quenches the ash and causes it to fracture into smaller sizes. It is also necessary to cushion the fall of material and protect the refractory walls of the vessel. Water is also utilized as an agent to wash or sluice ash out of the hopper for disposal. Bottom ash storage hoppers can be found in several configurations: Tanks with highly sloped or conical shaped bottoms (Conventional Bottom Ash Hoppers and Slag Tanks) typically have discharge gates at the bottom to release stored material into crushers. The material is then sluiced away in pipes for disposal.

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Smaller capacity vessels with minimally sloped bottoms (Step Bottom Hoppers) may step down in elevation across the length of the tank. In this design, material is washed to a discharge gate at the end or center of the vessel. Flush nozzles are used to assist material movement in the tank. Low profile flat bottom vessels have submerged flight conveyors (chain in flight systems) to drag the material for discharge at one end. In all cases, material is removed from the vessel while the boiler is on-line. A make-up water system should supply water to keep the vessel full during ash conveying. All of these are closed systems it is generally not possible to visually inspect the vessel to determine the level of ash or confirm that removal has been successful. This can only be done by emptying the water from the hopper and exposing personnel to hazardous gases at lethal temperatures. Conventional Bottom Ash Hopper Conventional bottom ash hoppers are typically found in larger boilers (>300 MW) with pulverized coal furnaces. They usually have two or three hopper sections that are connected laterally and have a common throat that runs the width of the hopper sections. Each section is shaped similar to an inverted pyramid with the width of the section greater than the front to rear span. Bottoms have sloped walls, typically 45 or greater in these large capacity hoppers.

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Slag Tank Slag tanks are used with cyclone furnace boilers. They are typically large cylindrical vessels with cone shaped bottoms. There are usually one or two tanks under each boiler. Material enters the slag tank through a round opening(s) at the top of tank, often referred to as a monkey hole. This design may accommodate sensor locations through the top or side of the tank.

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Step-Bottom Hopper Step-bottom hoppers are common in smaller pulverized coal furnaces (<300 MW). These systems employ a series of flush water nozzles to wash water to one end of the vessel where crushers are located. The hopper floor typically has a gradual slope and steps down in one or more steps of elevation to promote the flow of material and limit the required force of the flush water system. These hoppers are much smaller in size than conventional bottom ash hoppers and have much less storage capacity.

Flat-Bottom Vessel with Submerged Flight Conveyor Submerged flight conveyors are chain and flight systems (drag chains) that are used in larger flat-bottom hopper designs. Low profile conveyor flights pass along the bottom of the hopper and circulate below it. Material is continually conveyed up a ramp at one end for discharge above the normal water level in the hopper.

Historic Operating Procedures Prior to the application of underwater acoustic measurement technology most plants determined conveying requirements through experience and often adjusted practices only after very expensive mishaps including those resulting in serious injury or death to plant personnel. Time sequences, often highly conservative, were established and

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maintained until an event occurred that led to an adjustment. Many plants also engage in the practice of emptying the water from the hopper during an ash pull, rather than observing the preferred practice of supplying make-up water to maintain water level as the material is discharged. The outcome is that plants convey too frequently, for unnecessarily long periods of time, and use procedures that expose operators and equipment to dangerous and harmful conditions.

Effects of Current Practices Over-conveying Over-conveying is harmful in two primary respects. First, most systems are not fully automated and, at best, require the attention of one or more operators. Reducing the number and duration of conveying operations frees personnel for other essential duties. Additionally, ash handling pumps, motors, grinders and other wear parts are subject to mechanical breakdown in direct proportion to the amount of time they are in use. Reducing time in operation results in significant savings in maintenance costs six figure annual savings are not uncommon. Lowering Water Level in the Hopper Water impounded bottom ash collection systems are designed to be operated with water maintained in the hopper at all times even while ash is being discharged. Ash hoppers typically are constructed of steel walls that are internally lined with brick and/or masonry refractory (typically 9 in. thick). Lowering the level of water in the hopper exposes refractory to rapid changes in temperature (thermal-cycling) that can greatly shorten the life of the refractory and result in high cost of maintenance and replacement. Refractory is also exposed to damage from falling material when water is not available to cushion the fall. Further, many plants remove the water in order to conduct visual inspections and determine whether material has been successfully flushed out. This is a highly dangerous procedure that has resulted in serious injury and death to operators who are exposed to gases at extremely high temperature.

Measurement Solutions Underwater Material Profiling System In 1991, Entech Design, Inc. introduced underwater ultrasonic level measurement technology to the power industry in the form of the Material Acoustical Profile System (MAPS 20/20). The patented system utilizes dual-axis scanning sensors to produce two and three dimensional computer images of bottom ash as it accumulates in a water-

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impounded collection system. Systems have been successfully implemented in more than 70 coal-fired boilers in the US.

MAPS 20/20 Profile Image While proven to be a highly successful and useful tool, the profiling system can be constrained in application due to: (1) Physical design requirements of the vessels that it can be implemented in, (2) Significant initial cost of investment, and (3) In some instances, high cost to maintain the system and keep it in service. Design Requirements The profiling system is designed to make measurements while scanning a significant area of the vessel. Measurement angles range from horizontal shots directly opposite the sensor position (high in the sidewall of the vessel) to views downward toward the bottom of the tank. In all cases, the material to be measured must be in a position that will reflect acoustic signal back to the point of origin. Low-profile tanks that are common to small boilers or systems that have submerged-flight conveyors, often do not provide the requisite angles of reflection over a sufficient range of desired measurements.

Ash Tracker Solution

Ash Tracker offers superior ash level measurement capabilities at a very low initial cost of investment and ongoing cost of ownership. Systems are suitable for a broad range of ash collection systems and are extremely easy to set up and operate.

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Low Initial Cost of Ownership Ash Tracker employs relatively inexpensive non-scanning sensors and does not require an industrial computer for system operation and graphical presentation of the ash profile data. It also does not require engineered software that integrates the coordinates of the particular vessel(s). Set-up and operation is much simpler. Plants will experience a greatly reduced cost of system commissioning and operator training. Further, the high cost of on-site Technical Sales Presentations by factory engineers is eliminated altogether. Low Ongoing Cost of Ownership The relative high cost of ownership that has often been associated with the older systems is largely due to the complexity and mechanical nature of the scanning sensors. The scanning sensors are enclosed behind a high temperature plastic dome that is reasonably resistant to heat and falling material, but it is still vulnerable to damage. Once the dome is breached, the sensor is exposed to the elements and will experience damage. Ash Tracker virtually eliminates these maintenance costs. The Ash Tracker sensor housing is manufactured from 4 in. solid stainless steel material and sensing areas are imbedded securely in the housing. The removable sensor is housed in an enhanced enclosure that is also made of rugged stainless steel. Cooling water is supplied directly onto sensing surfaces to secure optimal coverage and superior protection. And, if repair or replacement is required, sensors are easy to remove and replace. Repair costs are a fraction of those for scanning sensors. Plants can easily afford to have a spare sensor on hand to assure uninterrupted service. Suitable for the Broadest Range of Applications Equally important, Ash Tracker operates in water impounded bottom ash and slag systems of virtually all sizes and types. Ash Tracker fixed-point sensors are positioned in a manner that promotes highly reliable measurements. Sensors are strategically directed to areas of the tank that provide crucial level measurements. The option to make use of multiple measurement points in a tank or hopper section provides information that is useful in determining the overall distribution pattern of material without sacrificing the enhanced measurement reliability of non-scanning sensors.

Ash Tracker Benefits

Allows operators to convey on an as needed basis rather than based on arbitrary and often excessive time schedules. Reduced system run-time translates into immediate savings in operator labor, and reduces repair costs to pumps, motors and other wear parts.

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Lets operators convey while maintaining water in the hopper and greatly reduce thermal cycling that damages refractory and results in expensive repair and replacement costs. Assists personnel to operate without removing the water from the hopper to conduct dangerous visual inspections that also exposes refractory to damage from falling material. Alerts operators to dangerous and potentially extremely expensive forced outages as a result of a hopper overfill event. Conclusion Ash Tracker provides the opportunity to replace a relatively complex, expensive and maintenance intensive profiling system with a relatively simple, inexpensive and virtually maintenance free level instrument without sacrificing essential process measurement information. Ash Tracker opens the market to a much broader range of potential customers and will have a much shorter sales cycle.

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