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Steam Turbines & Power Plants

Power for generations
Excellent performance features make the Benson boiler the most widely used type
of once-through boiler
1 of 4 Siemens power journal online, October 2001
With a total of more than 1,000 units
having established a proven track record
over many years in the power generation
industry, the Benson boiler is the most
commonly used type of once-through
boiler. It operates at power levels of up to
1300 MW, steam pressures of up to 350 bar
and steam temperatures of up to more
than 600C. About a quarter of the units
operate at supercritical pressures.
Given its performance features and op-
erating characteristics, it is no surprise
that Benson technology has been success-
ful. Up to now, its use has been most wide-
spread in central Europe, Japan and South
Africa, but numerous countries are show-
ing growing interest in this technology.
Convincing Technology
Steam generators using the Benson de-
signone pass through the evaporator
section and variable endpoints of evapora-
tionincorporate features which are criti-
cal to economic success in todays compet-
itive power markets. These features in-
a highly efficient steam/water cycle as a
result of supercritical pressures and high
steam temperatures,
ability to undergo rapid load changes
due to a design that allows unconstrained
thermal expansion and a variable-pres-
sure operating mode in the part-load
Best Choice
High capacity and excellent
operating characteristics are main
features of the Benson boiler,
making it the most widely used
type of once-through boiler
expert on Benson boiler technology, in charge of
licensing and continued development of this
steam generator type, Siemens Power Generation
expert for steam generator technology in the
engineering sector and technical consultant to
Benson licensees, Siemens Power Generation
insensitivity of steam out-
put and superheated steam
temperature to fluctuating
fuel properties.
Benson boilers are equally
well suited for both subcritical
and supercritical pressures;
steam pressure is limited al-
most solely by the properties
of the materials used. Due to a
design that allows uncon-
strained thermal expansion
no drum, low storage mass-
esBenson boilers are ideal
for use in the mid- and peak-
load operating ranges. The
variable-pressure operating
mode prevents stressing of the
steam turbine materials due
to changes in temperature.
Environmental protection
also benefits due to the low
specific exhaust gas emissions
achieved as the result of high
efficiencies, as well as through
the use of low-NO
tion methods and proven,
powerful flue-gas cleaning
Performance Features
Highest Steam Pressures and
Supercritical steam pres-
sures were already being used
in central Europe in the 1960s,
while superheated steam tem-
peratures remained in the
540C/560C range until the
mid-1990s. The 550-MW Unit 5
Steam Turbines & Power Plants
Furnace of a 930-MW lignite-
fired unit under construction
2 of 4 Siemens power journal online, October 2001
at the Staudinger power plant in Germany
is representative of this level of technolo-
gy with supercritical steam pressure at
full load and outlet temperatures of 545C
(with HP superheater) or 562C (with re-
heater). Other features of this unit include
variable-pressure operation and a net effi-
ciency of 43%.
At these steam temperatures, well-
proven and cost-effective ferritic materi-
als are adequate for the end stages of the
high-pressure and reheater heat-ex-
change surfaces. At higher temperatures,
more advanced ferritic chromium steels
are required for the thick-walled compo-
nents, while austenitic materials are re-
quired for the final superheater heat-ex-
change surfaces. The value of such materi-
als has been proven over many years of
service in the Benson boilers of the Danish
Nordjyllandsvaerket and Skaerbekvaerket
power plants, for example, at steam tem-
peratures of 580C. Operating experience
at 600C has to date been gained only
from boilers in Japan.
Today, state-of-the-art developments in
materials permit steam temperatures of
up to 600C (with HP superheater) or
620C (with reheater).
Variable Designs
Depending on plant-specific require-
ments, Benson boilers are of single- or
double-pass design.
The single-pass steam generator has
clear operational advantages when coals
with a high ash content or severely corro-
sive ash are used, since there is no reversal
of the flue gases and thus no additional
ash concentration in the vicinity of the
heat-exchange surfaces. All modern Euro-
pean lignite-fired steam generators are
therefore of the single-pass design. Other
advantages of this type of steam genera-
tor include single-wall design with its fa-
vorable unconstrained thermal expansion
The double-pass steam generator is
characterized by its low height and a com-
pact combustion chamber which, along
with the two separate flue-gas paths, pro-
vides advantages in terms of installation
options. Moreover, the separate cross sec-
tions of the second pass and combustion
chamber make it possible to optimize the
configuration of the convective heat-ex-
change surfaces, and thus also their size. A
typical example of the double-pass design
is the hard-coal-fired steam generator at
the Hemweg power plant in The Nether-
Flexible Use of Fuel
Since Benson boilers can be designed to
accommodate a wide range of coal types,
plant operators are able to use the lowest-
priced coal available. The combustion
chamber size and shape, the firing system
and the thermodynamics of the boiler are
then matched to the combustion proper-
ties of the range of fuels in question. Due
to the variable endpoint of evaporation,
the combustion chamber can be dimen-
Steam Turbines & Power Plants
Staudinger plant, Unit 5
550 MW
; hard-coal-fired
417 kg/s main steam
285 bar, 545C/562C
Nordjyllandsvaerket plant
410 MW
; imported coal
270 kg/s main steam
310 bar, 582C/580C
Hemweg plant
660 MW
; imported coal
530 kg/s main steam
261 bar, 540C/540C
The Netherlands
sioned solely in accordance with the corre-
sponding firing characteristics.
One advantage of Benson boiler opera-
tion is that the required steam output and
main steam temperature are always
achieved, even if the properties of the coal
are highly variable. A prime example is
the Benson boiler at the Staudinger power
plant, which is capable of firing a wide
range of coalsfrom highly volatile hard
coals up to and including anthracitein
its amply dimensioned combustion cham-
bers with opposed firing.
Benson boilers can be outfitted with
various types of firing systems. In addi-
tion to conventional pulverized-coal fir-
ing, systems with liquid-ash separation,
with circulating fluidized beds, for exam-
ple, as well as systems for firing biomass
can be used. Examples are the boiler with
liquid-ash removal at the 660-MW Ibben-
bren power plant that has two slag-tap
furnaces with a common gas radiation
chamber, as well as the boiler with circu-
lating fluidized-bed firing at the 100-MW
Moabit power plant. At the Moabit plant
the fluidized-bed coolers, in addition to
the walls of the combustion chambers
and the ash cyclone, are also utilized as
In Demand Worldwide
In Germany, hard-coal-fired Benson
boilers in the 800-MW to 1000-MW out-
put range have been operating successful-
ly and at high availability levels for several
years. The two 930-MW units at the Lip-
pendorf power plant achieved this same
output using lignite, a much more prob-
lematic fuel. A steam generator of the
same capacity is also installed at the Box-
dorf power plant. These Benson boilers are
among the largest in the world, with a
combustion chamber cross section of
2424 m and a boiler height of more than
160 m.
As early as the 1950s and 1960s, a num-
ber of power plants built in the U.S. were
operating at supercritical steam pressure.
Since the boilers used at that time were
only marginally suitable for variable-pres-
sure operation, American manufacturers
today are also setting their sights on mod-
ern Benson boiler technology. Although
the American market has seen almost no
new plants built since the mid-1980s, this
technology is being used successfully for
In Japan, the development trend in re-
cent years has been toward very high
steam pressures and temperatures. Since
1980, once-through boilers have been es-
sentially the only type used in power
plants in Japan, about half of them Ben-
son boilers operating at supercritical pres-
sures. Steam generators operating super-
heated steam temperatures of 600C and
with capacities of up to 1000 MW have al-
ready been in operation for many years. In
Japan, traditional preference has been giv-
en to the double-pass design, such as that
used at the Hekinan power plant. Due to
the low ash content of the coals used, the
operational advantages of the single-pass
design with regard to wear and tear of the
heat-exchange surfaces would not be sig-
Steam Turbines & Power Plants
Ibbenbren plant
750 MW
; anthracite
600 kg/s main steam
220 bar, 530C/530C
Hekinan plant
700 MW
; imported coal
639 kg/s main steam
255 bar, 543C/569C
Lippendorf plant
930 MW
; lignite
672 kg/s main steam
285 bar, 554C/583C
3 of 4 Siemens power journal online, October 2001
Steam Turbines & Power Plants
4 of 4 Siemens power journal online, October 2001
At the beginning of the 1970s, South
Africa recognized the advantages of Ben-
son boiler technology. Since that time,
twenty-four large units with ratings be-
tween 500 and 730 MW have been outfit-
ted with Benson boilers. The single-pass
design is preferred due to the high ash
content of the coal in that region.
In China, both drum-type and once-
through boilers are used for unit ratings of
up to 300 MW. In the future, plants in the
700/900-MW class will be designed only
for supercritical steam pressures and tem-
peratures. A supercritical, hard-coal-fired,
double-pass Benson boiler is currently be-
ing designed for the 700-MW Taishan
Outlook on Further Development
Worldwide use of the Benson boiler is
in no small measure the result of ongoing
efforts at Siemens Power Generation to
further develop this technology. The ex-
panded knowledge base obtained
through detailed studies, particularly of
the heat transfer mechanisms within the
combustion chamber tubes, has made an
important contribution to this effort.
New evaporator designs with vertical
tubing will continue to improve operating
behavior and make manufacture of the
boilers more cost-effective. An initial ref-
erence boiler that employs this new evap-
orator design is already under develop-
ment for refurbishment of a coal-fired
300-MW steam generator in China.
The Benson boiler is also ideally suited
for even higher steam pressures and tem-
peratures (designs for temperatures of
700C with plant efficiencies of more than
50% are being studied as part of the EUs
THERMIE project) due to its variable, freely
expandable construction and high operat-
ing flexibility. I
Licensees for Benson Boiler Manufacture
FLS milj (Burmeister & Wain)
Kawasaki Heavy Industries
Babcock Borsig Power
(Deutsche Babcock, Steinmller)
Mitsui Babcock Energy
Babcock & Wilcox
Foster Wheeler
Austrian Energy & Environment
Leading manufactur-
ers around the world
are marketing the
advantages of Ben-
son boiler technolo-
gy through licensing
agreements. At
Siemens, activities
related to the Ben-
son boiler include
boiler design, ther-
modynamic and hy-
draulic design, start-
up systems, control
concepts and oper-
ating principles.
Hekinan Hemweg Staudinger Ibbenbren Lippendorf Nordjyllandsvaerket