You are on page 1of 8

International Journal of Industrial Engineering Research and Development (IJIERD), ISSN 0976 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING– 6979

(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6987(Online) Volume 3, Issue 2, July-December (2012), © IAEME RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (IJIERD)

ISSN 0976 – 6979 (Print) ISSN 0976 – 6987 (Online) Volume 3, Issue 2, July-December (2012), pp. 18-25 © IAEME: www.iaeme.com/ijierd.html

IJIERD
©IAEME

Journal Impact Factor (2012): 2.3810 (Calculated by GISI) www.jifactor.com

COAL ACCIDENT ANALYSIS, RISK QUANTIFICATION AND SUGGESTIVE SCHEME IMPROVEMENTS IN COAL BUNKERS OF THERMAL POWER PLANTS
Wani Ahmad1, MSK Prasad2, Bhat Javed3, V Thangapandian4 Address for correspondence 1 B.Tech Civil Engineering, National Institute of Technology, Srinagar, currently with as Engineer (Executive) in Structural Erection Dept., National Thermal Power Corp., Ltd., Mouda, Nagpur, India. Email: wani.ahmed@yahoo.com 2 Engineer (Executive), Structural Department Dept., National Thermal Power Corp., Ltd., Mouda, Nagpur, India. Email: mskprasad@ntpc.co.in 3 Associate Professor, Civil Engineering Dept., National Institute of Technology, Srinagar. Email: bhat_javed@yahoo.com 4 General Manager, Mouda Super Thermal power plant, National Thermal Power Corp., Ltd., Mouda, Nagpur, India. Email: vthangapandian@ntpc.co.in

ABSTRACT This paper is an attempt to study the various factors influencing bunker fires in thermal power plants in construction and operation phase through a case study at Mouda super thermal power project, NTPC Mouda, Nagpur. There have been many factors which have jointly contributed to the spontaneous combustion of the coal in one of the bunkers at NTPC Mouda (Unit #1). Coal segregation caused by single point loading scheme, large siting time of coal in the bunker (>30 days), high ambient temperature, possible presence of inflammable gases in the local environment, and importantly, the large length of daily time exposure of bunker A to the sun as compared to the other bunkers have all contributed to the spontaneous combustion. Chemical factors like water content and sulphur content also could be the possible reasons, which could have contributed to the accident. An attempt has been made to quantify the current hazard level of all these factors, and its associated risk, as well as the possible hazard level for the bunker
18

International Journal of Industrial Engineering Research and Development (IJIERD), ISSN 0976 – 6979(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6987(Online) Volume 3, Issue 2, July-December (2012), © IAEME

after commercialization for devising future safety policy. Moreover, preferred modes of first line of defence in case of bunker fires in thermal power plants, and suggestive scheme improvements for averting such accidents have also been discussed. KEYWORDS: Coal bunker, fire accidents, thermal power plant, segregation I. INTRODUCTION The risk from fire exists anywhere significant amounts of coal are in use or storage. Coal is a combustible material, making it susceptible to a variety of ignition scenarios. One of the most frequent and serious causes of coal fires in spontaneous combustion. Preventing spontaneous combustion coal fires involves attention to many different factors. Among the most critical are the type, age, and composition of coal, how it is stored, and how it is used. Given the right kind of coal, oxygen, and a certain temperature and moisture content, coal will burn by itself. [1] Spontaneous combustion has long been recognized as a fire hazard in stored coal. Spontaneous combustion fires usually begin as "hot spots" deep within the reserve of coal. The hot spots appear when coal absorbs oxygen from the air. Heat generated by the oxidation then initiates the fire. Such fires can be very stubborn to extinguish because of the amount of coal involved (often hundreds of tons) and the difficulty of getting to the seat of the problem. Moreover, coal in either the ’smouldering’ of flaming stage may produce copious amounts of methane and carbon monoxide gases. In addition to their toxicity, these gases are highly explosive in certain concentrations, and can further complicate efforts to fight this type of coal fire. [1] Segregation of coal due to rolling of differently sized particles over an inclined plane would result in a pile of fine particles formed just near the edge. This is followed by coarse particles rolling over the pile away from the center. A final scenario is reached wherein segregated columns of fine and coarse coal are formed. (Figure 1(a) and 1(b)).

Figure 1(a) and 1(b): 1(a) Shows the process of segregation on account of size gradient, and 1(b) shows segregated columns of coarse and fine coal in a coal bunker In the case of some parts of the bunker receiving only fine coal and others coarser coal; there

19

International Journal of Industrial Engineering Research and Development (IJIERD), ISSN 0976 – 6979(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6987(Online) Volume 3, Issue 2, July-December (2012), © IAEME

would be a definite variation in the amount of air flowing through the various parts of the fuel bed. This phenomenon is called ‘segregation’. The parts of the bunker, which receive a deficient amount of air, will not completely burn the fuel and quantities of smoke are produced. Subsequent turbulence in the bunker would burn these unburned gases and further lead to a fire on account of friction. [2] Some important terms related to coal accidents used in the study include: Vulnerability: Degree of influence of the factor towards spontaneous combustion. Hazard: Probability of occurrence of spontaneous combustion on account of a particular factor. Risk: The potential that a chosen factor will lead to spontaneous combustion. II. DISCUSSION The possible factors which could have contributed towards the fire accident in the coal bunkers include: 1. Segregation (caused by single point loading scheme) 2. Segregation (caused by large size gradient of coal) 3. Segregation (caused by new coal being added on old coal) 4. Large siting time of coal 5. High ambient temperature 6. Large length of daily sun exposure 7. Possible presence of inflammable gases locally 8. Chemical factors (water content, sulphur content, etc) Segregation (caused by single point loading scheme): Loading done manually by workers, from one side only near the gable end because of possible blockade of access (due to limited crane reach). Segregation (caused by large size gradient of coal): Very less consideration to the size gradient of coal as it was purely on temporary basis. No crushing of coal (-20 mm) Segregation (caused by new coal being added on old coal): This factor finally was ruled out because after going through the coal feeding log book, it was found that the coal in bunker A was fed in one batch, which thus eliminates the chances of segregation on account of a new variety of coal fed on the top. High ambient temperature & Large length of daily sun exposure: The temperature of the outer surface of all the bunkers has been noted at both forenoon and afternoon, using Infra-Red Temperature measurement gun. Possible presence of inflammable gases locally & chemical factors (water content, sulphur content, etc): The probability of both these factors found to be very negligible. Inflammable gases not found in the vicinity (verified by inspection). Chemical Factors like volatile matter, sulphur content (0.82%), moisture content (8.1%), etc all found out to be within acceptable and safe limits. On analysis of the sequence of loading in the bunkers, it is observed that most of the loading has been carried out without any consideration to the point of loading as it was not very organized (being a temporary method of loading the bunker). Most of the loading was done manually by workers, and was done from one side only near the gable end because of possible blockade of
20

International Journal of Industrial Engineering Research and Development (IJIERD), ISSN 0976 – 6979(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6987(Online) Volume 3, Issue 2, July-December (2012), © IAEME

access (due to limited crane reach), which further reinforces the chances of segregation being a major factor. As is clear, the ambient temperature would’ve definitely been very high at the time of the accident (~45°C), and the local temperature in and around the bunker even higher. This along with segregation could act as a joint precursor for the formation of light smoke containing aerosols, carbon dioxide, etc. Also, the coal was in the bunker for more than a month (30 days), it definitely increased the time, and thus the susceptibility of it undergoing spontaneous combustion. The temperature of the outer surface of all the bunkers has been noted at both forenoon and afternoon, using Infra-Red Temperature measurement gun. It has been found that Bunker A has a considerably large length of exposure time of direct sunlight as compared to the other bunkers. This is also one of the factors in contributing towards the spontaneous combustion incident (Table 1).

Figure 1: Photograph showing the hopper of bunker A (after the fire accident) clearly exposed to the sun (15:45hrs) Besides all the above factors, another factor (for which no documentary proof exists) could be the presence of welding processes being carried out in near proximity. Arc welding is particularly known to produce a lot of fumes, which could also have added to increasing the chances of coal in the bunker undergoing spontaneous combustion. A hazard level and vulnerability level on a rating of 1 to 10 has been given to each factor in an attempt to quantify the ‘Risk’ involved by each factor. Moreover, distinction has been made with regard to the vulnerability (and hence the ‘risk’) of spontaneous combustion in the current scenario as well as after the total completion of Unit #1. This would be beneficial in identifying

21

International Journal of Industrial Engineering Research and Development (IJIERD), ISSN 0976 – 6979(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6987(Online) Volume 3, Issue 2, July-December (2012), © IAEME

those areas which need specific attention in the future with regard to the fire safety of bunkers loaded with coal. (Table 2) The chemical factors (like sulphur content, moisture content, etc) have been found out and they are well within the prescribed norms (0.82% and 8.1% respectively). An important observation, which has been made, is that there is no arrangement for quick removal of coal from the bunker through the feeder. The outlet is a temporary removable assembly, which is installed only for brief periods as and when required. However, the first line of defence to minimize the loss in the case of a bunker fire is quick removal of coal (and not flooding it with water). Therefore, a system should be in place for the quick removal of coal in order to avert the chances of a steam explosion, which can cause widespread damage.

22

International Journal of Industrial Engineering Research and Development (IJIERD), ISSN 0976 – 6979(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6987(Online) Volume 3, Issue 2, July-December (2012), © IAEME TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENT IN THE BUNKERS AT VARIOUS ELEVATIONS AND TIMES OF THE DAY S No. Time of 11:00 hrs day: Bunker Temperature (°C) Elevation (m) 1 2 3 4 5 A B C D E 38 37 36.3 36 36 27.025 27.025 27.025 27.025 27.025

S No.

Time of day: Bunker A A A A

15:45 hrs Temperature (°C) 48.2 47 46.2 44.1 Elevation (m) 53 47 38 25

1 2 3 4

S No.

Time of day: Bunker B B B B

15:45 hrs Temperature (°C) 41 38 37 36.3 Elevation (m) 53 47 38 25

1 2 3 4

Table 1: Temperature measurement in the bunkers at various elevations and times of the day (28/4/2012)

23

International Journal of Industrial Engineering Research and Development (IJIERD), ISSN 0976 – 6979(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6987(Online) Volume 3, Issue 2, July-December (2012), © IAEME

S No.

Factor

Hazard

Vulnerability Current After completion 2

Risk (Hazard X Vulnerability) Current After completion 81 18

1

Segregation (caused by single point loading scheme) Segregation (caused by large size gradient of coal) Segregation (caused by new coal being added on old coal) Large siting time of coal High ambient temperature Large length of daily sun exposure Possible presence of inflammable gases locally Chemical factors (water content, sulphur content, etc)

9

9

2

9

9

2

81

18

3

8

1

3

8

24

4 5 6 7

6 5 7 9

7 5 4 2

2 3 2 1

42 25 28 18

12 15 14 9

8

7

4

3

28

12

Total Risk

311

131

Table 2: Hazard-Vulnerability Analysis for various factors contributing to spontaneous combustion in bunker A of Unit #1, NTPC Mouda

24

International Journal of Industrial Engineering Research and Development (IJIERD), ISSN 0976 – 6979(Print), ISSN 0976 – 6987(Online) Volume 3, Issue 2, July-December (2012), © IAEME

III. CONCLUSIONS ‘Segregation’ (caused by single point loading scheme, and large size gradient of coal) has turned out to be the single major factor contributing to the ‘Risk’ and thus to the spontaneous combustion incident. • High ambient temperature is a minor but a permanent factor which is there to remain as a possible threat even after the completion of Unit #1. • Large sitting time of coal in the bunker, long-time exposure of the Bunker A to the sun and segregation on account of the unplanned methodology of loading the bunker from the top (only from one side manually) are major but transitory factors, and thus can be ignored for future safety policy. • However, an important concern is the absence of CO and even temperature monitoring sensors in the bunkers. Water deluge systems (absent currently) shall be installed at a later stage (preferably using F-5003) • There is a definite decrease in the percentage of “Risk” by 57.87% once the Unit #1 is complete. This implies that as such, there is no considerable long-term threat to fire safety of the bunker. IV. SUGGESTIVE SCHEME IMPROVEMENTS: • • • • When filling the coal manually, it should be ensured that there should be a maximum no. of loading points along the periphery of the bunker, so as to eliminate the chances of segregation (due to single point loading). The coal, whenever fed into the bunker, whether for trial run or after COD (commercial operation declaration) should be properly pulverized so as to ensure relevant size gradient of coal, and avoidance of possible size segregation. Having a permanent mechanism for emptying of coal from the bunker as soon as outage. (through hose pipe and suction truck/ reverse operation of feeder to accumulate coal at feeder coal). Installation of probes for monitoring temperature and CO levels at the bunker, at various levels. •

V. ACKNOWLEDGMENT The authors would like to thank the management of NTPC Mouda for guidance and support during the project. VI. REFERENCES [1] EH-93-4 ‘The Fire Below: Spontaneous Combustion in Coal’, U. S. Department of Energy, Environment, Safety & Health, Washington, D.C. 20585, DOE/EH-0320, Issue No. 93-4, May 1993. [2] Arthur J Stock, Stock Equipment Company, Cleveland, Ohio, ‘Coal Segregation As A Cause of Smoke And Its Correction’. [3] Diana Meritt, Rahm, ‘Managing silo, bunker and dust-collector fires’, Western Kentucky Energy Corp.

25