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Best Practices in ESP Operation and Maintenance for improved performance S.Ramakrishna Senior Manager K.

Rajavel Dy General Manager Engineering Development Centre Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited Boiler Auxiliaries Plant Ranipet 632 406, Tamilnadu. Particulate emission control to minimum level from thermal power plants has gained significance. All present day electrostatic precipitators are designed for emission levels of less than 50 mg/ Nm3. But, often we find that the emission levels are going beyond the designed levels. This is due to several factors that are not given importance in the operation and maintenance of the plant. It is important to understand that ESP is collecting more than 99.9 % of the ash that enters the precipitator. The emission going out of the chimney is less than 0.1 % corresponds to 50 mg/ Nm3 for ESP inlet concentration of 50 g/Nm3. Even a small drop in collection efficiency can lead to multi fold increase in the emission level. Hence, it is imperative that collection efficiency of the ESP has to be maintained closer or better than the design condition to achieve the desired emission levels. Also the ESP field operating parameters also have major effect on the performance. In this paper we have highlighted steps in operation of ESP which can give significant improvement in the performance of ESP. Prerequisite for the better operation of the ESP is maintaining good field alignment, rapping system and ash evacuation. It is presumed that all these are maintained well. In this paper, we will discuss best practices that are required to be followed both in O&M for sustaining the emission below the designed level. 1.0 1.1 BEST PRACTICES IN OPERATION Importance ESP field voltage and current: Precipitation in the ESP is largely governed by ESP field voltages. The charge on the ESP particles is directly proportional to the peak voltages whereas the force on the particles towards the collecting electrode is proportional to charge on the particles and average voltages. Hence the performance of the ESP is dependant on the ESP voltage. Many times it becomes difficult to achieve the voltages in the ESP in spite of having good inter electrode gaps. There is a need to understand the reasons for such condition and take appropriate actions. The voltage in the field is dependant on the flue gas temperature, dust concentration, ash particle size, ash resistivity, ash coating on collecting electrodes, back corona conditions.
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Page 2 of 6 .3 Temperature increases the resistivity of ash particles also gives rise to back corona condition. Generally in first few fields. Higher temperature will lead to lower voltages.    1. hence the voltages will be higher. Significant temperature changes between inlet and outlet may indicate the air inleakage problems. Voltage withstanding capacity of the field is directly dependant on temperature. As the dust concentration almost reduces to less than 0. Particles create more space charge in the inter electrode gaps. the average voltages are higher due to space charge created by the ash particles. Flue gas volume increases with increase in temperature.5 % in last few fields the voltage significantly reduces affecting the voltage levels and efficiency of these fields.2 Flue gas temperature: Monitoring the gas temperature can provide useful information about ESP performance. Dust Concentration and Particle size: Higher dust concentration normally affects the first two field operation since it leads to sparking at lower currents. Lower currents mean lower peak voltages.Best Practices in ESP Operation and Maintenance for improved performance 1. Following graph shows the effect of temperature on voltage.

but the average current will be much lower. resistivity of the ash particle decides the back corona condition. Intermittent charging helps to curtail the back corona conditions.5 Methods for reducing the boiler exit temperature:    Mill outlet temperature to be maintained around 90 deg C. The graph shows the increase in emission levels with increase in gas flow. Also these particles tend to stick to collecting electrodes. The pulsed current maximum limit is allowed up to 200% of the normal mode current in the ESP. supplies the current in pulses which provides a dense corona for a short time and at the same time gives a low average current to avoid back corona. LRSB soot blower and wall blowers to be operated to reduce the temperature Lower mill operation. ESP voltage tend to be very low in the order of 17 to 22 KV compared to the first few fields where the voltages may be in the order of 28 KV to 32 KV.Best Practices in ESP Operation and Maintenance for improved performance 1. 1.5 Optimisation of ESP fields: Optimisation of ESP fields basically involves the setting of optimum intermittent charge ratio and base charge.4 Gas Flow and its effect: The increase in gas flow increases the emission levels considerably. The back corona conditions differ for different field positions. Page 3 of 6 . The flue gas temperature.6 Methods for reducing the flue gas flow:   Excess air operation to be maintained with O2 at Economiser outlet around 3. 1. The intermittent charging mode in the controller. Some of half cycles are skipped in the thyristor firing to achieve this.2 to 3. Last fields of ESP experience very fine ash particles having high resistivity.5 % Air heater and duct leakage control 1.

0 . Page 4 of 6 2. In addition. 8. the emission levels were brought down to less than 45mg/ Nm3 from earlier level of 200 mg/Nm3. 7. Before optimization Field Current Voltage Charge No In % ratio 1. Adjusting the charge ratio for achieving better peak and valley voltage can lead to significant improvement in the ESP performance. The problems in the precipitator can be broadly classified as below. 3.Best Practices in ESP Operation and Maintenance for improved performance Peak and valley voltages and VI characteristics of a field can give very good idea of the functioning of the field and back corona conditions. 4. Improvement of peak and valley voltages after changing the ration can be seen. resulting in poorer efficiency. increase of the gas flow rate the ingress of air can lead due dilution of moisture in the flue gas as well as SOx concentration. The following table gives readings taken in a project before and after optimization of the fields. 1. This will have serious implication on the precipitation. Most of the precipitator’s problems are mechanical in nature and hence many of the break-down may be due to poor installation and poor maintenance. 6. BEST MAINTENANCE PRACTICES Proper maintenance precautions and procedures can make the difference between a precipitator which operates satisfactorily and the other with operational problems. 2. 5. Air ingress also increases the flue gas volume.6 Effect of higher air ingress: In some of the old ESPs it is observed that oxygen levels in the flue gas exceeds 9%. 182 68 198 197 188 199 200 200 27 30 34 30 28 27 25 25 11 15 21 31 41 51 61 61 After optimization Peak Current Voltage Charge /valley In % ratio voltage 70/18 55/17 70/25 74/28 65/18 72/24 77/22 77/22 182 68 198 197 188 199 200 173 33 36 42 36 31 32 31 30 31 61 61 912 101 141 151 151 Peak /valley voltage 84/23 62/23 79/37 81/38 70/23 77/30 84/28 70/26 After optimising the charge ratio.

If the emission goes out of range.2 SHUT DOWN PRACTICES  Rappers shall be allowed to operate for atleast 8 hours to remove residual dust.1 MONITORING GUIDELINES 2. rapping system. Transformer tripping and insulator crack etc.1. vibrating or swinging electrodes. inadequate rapping etc.1. then corrective action must be planned. shock bar bent. reentrainment of collected dust. and ash evacuation system. rapping motors / heaters not in service.  Rapping system shall be in service during start-up to remove any settled dust.  2. aspect ratio too small. poor gas flow distribution. excessive ash deposit on electrodes.Best Practices in ESP Operation and Maintenance for improved performance Fundamental problems:  Gas velocity too high. high resistivity. Necessary follow-up action is to be taken to bring back the precipitator to the normal operation within the acceptable range.1. It has been observed over a period that the most common problems for higher emission are ash build up in hoppers due to improper ash evacuation.  Energise fields according to established procedure 2.  Mechanical problems:  Poor electrode alignment.  Insulator heaters shall be on 2 – 12 hours prior to strat-up. The corrective action may include an investigation of the reason for high emission. One of the best maintenance practices in precipitator is to continuously monitoring of the emission and periodically monitoring the components attributed to the above said problems. field misalignment and non-uniform flow distribution inside ESP chamber and unequal flow between various ESP streams. erosion of screens and rapping shaft breakage etc. ESP fields.3 ROUTINE OPERATIONS Reviewing parameters at ESP inlet. DAILY INSPECTION AND MAINTENANCE  Operation of dust discharge system : ensure the ash removal system is working properly  Check hopper doors for air leaks Page 5 of 6 .  Conduct air-load test for each TR set to ensure healthiness of the fields. heavy sparking. distorted / skewed plates. 2.  Unstable electrical controls. evaluation of the situation.  Electrical Problems. plugged distribution screens.1 START-UP PRACTICES The important activities during start-up are.

Plant personnel must be properly trained to perform these activities with confidence. if required.  Review the air load readings after the maintenance for ensuring healthiness. Page 6 of 6 .  Check for all rapping motors operation  Conduct gas distribution test. deflector plates for wear and tear and rectify.  Availability of heaters in hoppers and insulators  Check al access doors for any leaks and make sure that the leakage is arrested.Best Practices in ESP Operation and Maintenance for improved performance   Inspection of rapper operation Inspection of TR set operation WEEKLY INSPECTION AND MAINTENANCE  Thorough check of rapper operation and implement any changes in the rapping frequency. DURING SEMI ANNUAL / MAJOR UNIT OVERHAUL  Empty all the ESP ash hoppers  Check and correct the Field mis-alignment  Inspect the internals like raping mechanisms. The precipitator must be operated and maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. if required. screens.0 Conclusion: The emission from the power plant affects the environment and it becomes utmost important responsibility of the operating personnel to understand the various parameters that affect performance of the ESP and take corrective action in achieving the desired emission level.1. 3. 2.1. 2.5 QUALITY CONTROL The continuous opacity monitor shall be calibrated for zero and span adjustments.4 RECORD KEEPING AND REPORTING  Opacity reports and supporting data  Electronic records of Voltage – current readings of fields  Maintenance and inspection records will be kept for 5 years and shall be easily retrievable.