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Course № M-1009

Advanced Boiler Cycles
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Development in metallurgy and welding techniques overcame many of the early problems. In a drum-type boiler. The vaporization of water occurs in two steps: First by adding heat to the water to raise it to boiling from the vapor / water interface. it passes to the superheater tube banks where it is superheated. Conventional drum-type boilers have no application at supercritical pressures. A brief review of the fundamentals that apply to the generation of steam will be helpful. the continued addition of heat will cause the steam to become superheated. and there is a resurgence of interest in supercritical technology in the United States.208 psia). continued in Europe and Asia. M-1009 Introduction Supercritical phase of steam is reached when its pressure is raised above the crititical point (3. The theoretical amount of work that can be obtained from steam used in a prime mover is equivalent to the change in its total heat content from its condition at the entering state to that at its exhaust state. Basic Ideal Rankine Cycle The basic reversible Rankine superheat cycle plotted on Temperature / Entropy coordinates is illustrated below. Their popularity and utilization. . and the use of superheat. This is the ideal cycle upon which drum type boilers are based. There is a considerable increase in efficiency in cycles operating within this pressure and temperature range. Once the saturated steam leaves the steam drum. there is no physical delineation between the liquid and the vapor phases. this water / vapor interface is maintained in the steam drum. The superheated steam cannot condense as long as it is above the saturation temperature corresponding to the saturation pressure. the effects of pressure and temperature. it is necessary to thoroughly understand the properties of steam. There were several power plants built in the late 1950's and early 1960's that were designed to operate in the supercritical range. but low reliability and non suitablity for cycling operation.Advanced Boiler Cycles (1 PDH) Course No. When in this phase. Advanced Boiler Cycles For studies involved in the variation of the basic steam cycle. however. They earned reputations of high efficiencies.

Therefore. heat is added in the boiler at constant pressure as the twophase fluid circulates through the boiler generating tubes and steam drum. After the saturated steam leaves the drum. The shaded area represents heat rejected from the cycle in the condenser. Heat is added from point a to point d. The net work of the cycle. it enters the superheated phase. and the temperature rises to point c. temperature. therefore. The heat rejected is a function of the temperture of the heat sink. to increase the net work. and thus the efficiency of a cycle. The heat sink average temperature is generally about 60 deg.The boiler feed pump raises the feedwater temperature isentropically from point a to point b. is represented by the area under a b c d minus the shaded area. The Rankine regenerative cycle utilizes partially expanded steam . This fixes the heat rejected from a cycle as a function of a 60 deg. The area under the curve (the integral of Tds) represents heat. F. which nearly always is a large body of water or the atmosphere. Next. Rankine Regenerative Cycle A nearly universal variation to power plant Rankine cycles is the regeneration cycle. F. the area under the curve a b c d must be maximized. and is rejected from point d to point a.

of course. The rate of heat transfer is proportional to the temperature difference between hot and cold. because a temperature difference is required for heat transfer to take place. as the temperature difference between hot and cold are closer. Completely reversible heat transfer can take place only when there is no temperature difference between the heating and cooling media. the increase in entropy is less. solving . so the heat transfer is more efficient. What this means is that incremental steps of heat transfer to the feedwater increases the cycle efficiency over having all of the heat transfer taking place within the boiler. (Heat can flow only from hot to cold). Low pressure steam is extracted at a lower pressure turbine stage and is directed to low pressure feedwater heater #2 (line 4). The schematic of a regenerative cycle with two stages of feedwater heating is shown below. however in large power plants as many as eight stages may be employed. Therefore. However. only two feedwater heating stages are shown here. High pressure steam is extracted and directed to the high pressure feedwater heater # 1 (line 3). This does not mean that the heat transfer is more effective when the temperature difference is less. For simplicity. The regenerative Rankine cycle is illustrated below. for the cycle being illustrated for additional heaters. but the greater the temperature difference. the same plan would be followed.extracted from the turbine at various points to heat the condensate and feedwater on its way back to the boiler or steam generator. It can be shown that the best efficiency for a given number of heaters is realized when the temperature range per heater is approximately equal. Accordingly. completely reversible heat transfer is impossible. This is physically impossible. the greater the increase in entropy during the process.

In a large power plant with today's fuel costs. solving for each weight in order. the result may be used to solve for w2 .h6) h2 . In a similar manner. Equating the total heat transferred from the extracted steam to heater #1 gives Q steam = Q feedwater.w2)(h5 .h s ) = (1-w 1 )(hs -h7 ). w = steam flow in lb / hr w1( h3 . h = enthalpy in BTU / lb. The weight of steam to be removed at each extraction point is calculated by setting up a heat balance across each heater. The increase in efficiency must result in an operating cost reduction that is greater than the increased capital cost of the heaters and the additional piping.h1 For additional heaters. a heat balance may be drawn across the second heater to give: w 2 (h4 .h1).h7) = (1-w1 -w 2 )(h7 -h 6 ) By getting the enthalpies from the steam tables and solving for w1. the same plan would be followed.temperature difference between the saturated vapor at the boiler pressure and the saturated liquid at the condenser is divided into three equal parts.(1-w1 . this can economically justify eight stages of feedwater heating. The optimum extraction pressures are the saturation pressures corresponding to these saturation temperatures. . The thermal efficiency for the cycle would be: (h2 .

. represented by the area under the curve 3. the superheated steam that is passed through and exhausted from the high pressure turbine is brought to the reheat section of the boiler. and turbine blading. therefore efficiency. The upper temperature limit of the superheated steam is limited by the current metallurgy of the boiler tubes. c. The gain in net work. is realized as the heat added. most power plants use the Rankine Reheat cycle. The majority of present-day reheat cycles operate at 1050 deg. 4. In the reheat cycle. hot reheat steam lines. The hot reheat steam is then returned to the lower pressure turbine stages to complete its expansion. d. is greater than the additional heat rejected. F. as well as to gain the practical advantage of drier steam at the turbine exhaust. in enthalpyentropy (h-s) coordinates to the left. In order to take advantage of the additional heat added. where the temperature is raised to approximately the original reheat temperature. 5.Diagram for Regenerative Rankine cycle Reheat Cycle Another common variation of the basic Rankine cycle is the Rankine reheat cycle. and temperature-entropy coordinates to the right. illustrated in the diagrams below. represented by the area a. 5 on the T-s coordinates.

. Supercritical Steam Cycles As new coal-fired plants are being considered in this country.208 psia and above. This "critical point" is at the apex of the saturation line as shown on T-s coordinates. many developers are looking seriously at supercritical technology. compressibility.208 psia and above. Babcock Borsig Capital Corporation {U. random molecular arrangement of vapor is attained. there is no physical differentiation between water and steam. but the cost of fuel and environmental concerns are playing a large role in decision making. individual molecules break out of the dense liquid clusters and form a separate vapor phase.Supercritical Steam When water is heated at a constant pressure of 3. Above this pressure. the clusters gradually divide into smaller clusters. and viscosity) change continuously from those of a liquid to those of a vapor.S. and the spacing of the molecules gradually become less dense until the transition to the wide-spaced. it does not boil and does not produce a two-phase mixture of water and steam. The capital costs are higher than the more conventional subcritical plants.25 per MBtu. office: Boston) maintains that coal is completely competitive with gas-fired combined cycles when gas is priced around $3 per MBtu. Also. During the boiling process at subcritical pressures. The temperature steadily rises. At supercritical pressures. the increased interest in efficient coal-fueled plants may be a result of the disenchantment with the nuclear power industry. At 3. the physical properties (density. assuming a 85% capacity factor and a coal price of $1. The specific heat and rate of rise varies considerably during this transition. as heat is added to the liquid.

around 85 to 90%. The temperature rises continuously along the constant pressure line.Looking at the basic Rankine cycle once again.850 is required to allow for pressure drops in the superheater and main steam line.520 psig. but we are looking at two different definitions of efficiency. Supercritical units became unpopular for new construction in this country. A drum operating pressure of 2. however.200 deg. Also. efficiencies of 50% are being predicted. The densities of steam and water rapidly approaching each other . The nature of supercritical steam generation rules out the use of a boiler drum to separate steam from water.000 mw of capacity.150 deg.. Equipped with advanced materials and digital controls. As higher steam temperatures up to 1. some 20.( Refer to the PDHengineer course "Thermodynamics of Cogeneration") The materials of the 1950's and 1960's era were not up to the demands of high temperatures and pressures. and by the 1990's it dominated new capacity projects.750 to 2. 35% efficiency may not seem high when compared to claims being made by gas-fired cogeneration plants. Drumless "once through" steam generators are universally used for supercritical operation. In Europe and Asia. The term "steam generator" will be used instead of "boiler" for once-through steam production.500 psig. This increases the heat added area. 85% were supercritical. F. Increases in efficiency not only reduce fuel cost. Supercritical Steam Generators Nearly 200 supercritical steam generators are operating world-wide today. it can be seen that the heat added. Turbines for subcritical systems are usually designed for steam pressures of 2. these new supercritical plants are delivering high efficiency (around 44% LHV) and topnotch availability factors. Of the new coal fired power plants commissioned abroad between 1995 and 2000. can be increased by pressurizing the liquid above the critical point and thereby eliminating the horizontal path through the saturated zone that occurs in subcritical boilers. supercritical technology continued to be pursued. particularly if the plants can operate in a sliding pressure mode. with pressures up to 4. achieving efficiencies of 44% LHV. come into being. because boiling as such does not really take place. and thereby the net work and efficiency. Gas-fired and combined cycles got most of the attention of power plant project developers.F.) The earliest supercritical boilers were built in the late 50's and early 60's. (More about sliding pressure operation later. the efficiency of supercritical boilers does not fall off significantly at part-load. but also reduces the specific (per MW) emissions of many pollutants compared to subcritical coal-fired boilers. More advances in materials and designs introduced in the late 90's have raised steam temperatures as high as 1. These units established a reputation for high efficiencies (around 35%) and low reliabilities.

It has been normal practice to design once-through systems to ensure a flow rate of at least 30% at rated flow at all times. flow through the tubes must be maintained in order to control the tube metal temperature and prevent tube failure caused by the combustion. Supercritical Steam Generator Design Configurations The major differences between the various once-through steam generator designs on the market are the configuration of the furnace enclosure circuits and the systems used to circulate water at start up and low loads. The burners are lit. The fluid system start up for once through steam generators is different. In any case.above this pressure level represents an approximate limit for drum-type boilers incorporating steam separation and recirculation. In all boilers and steam generators. circulation can only be established by operating the feedwater pumps and continuously admitting feedwater to the system to cool the steam generating and superheating surfaces. Therefore. which will vary in details from manufacturer to manufacturer. . These proved suitable for base load operation. The three leading designs are: • Vertical tube multipass furnace. The boiler feed pump establishes a flow through the economizer and waterwall tubes. only the best possible feedwater treatment is acceptable because blowdown from the drum and generating tubes is not available to remove impurities from the system. In a once through steam generator. or be carried over into the turbine. then through the condensate polishers and back to the steam generator. Therefore at start up and for low loads. the unit is initially fired. Otherwise the concentration of impurities in the system would gradually build up and force an outage for cleaning or repairs. but were not as well-suited for cycling because of the thermal stresses involved. upon which early supercritical designs were based. and gradually the waterwall temperature is raised to the point where the turbine can be rolled. and brought to partial load on the by-pass system. and somewhat more complicated than for drum type boilers. The makeup water and the condensate must be purified. Once through steam generators come equipped with an integral start up system. A significant characteristic of once through steam generators is that all impurities in the feedwater must either be deposited in the generating tubes or superheating surfaces. A certain minimum water flow must be established prior to full firing of the steam generator. The flow continues through the flash tanks (or separators) and on to the condenser. warmed up. a turbine by-pass system is utilized to divert the steam to flash tanks.

In a conventional drum type boiler-turbine combination. flow will be restricted in the tubes having a greater steam concentration. Both use separator vessels for start up. If the pressure throughout the steam generating tubes is allowed to drop below the critical pressure. This will result in some of the secondary superheater tubes having variations in the steam-water mix. The steam temperature is controlled by the firing rate. while permitting the turbine to operate under its optimum pressure for a given load. Because of the requirement to maintain steam generator pressure. The main advantage is higher part load efficiencies. Sliding Pressure Operation Sliding pressure operation can be utilized in certain drum type boilers as well as once-through steam generators (with some qualifications). In once through steam generators. In order to take advantage of the benefits of variable pressure operation during load turndown. With sliding pressure operation with drum type boilers. With partial arc steam admission. This reduces the cyclic thermal stresses experienced during cycling operation. and is augmented in some units by injecting superheating water between the superheat stages. the full steam throttle pressure can be maintained down to about 60% load. and the turbine power is controlled by varying the boiler pressure. load is a function of the steam flow. with load control accomplished by the turbine throttle valves. two-phase flow and steam-water separation will result. pressure control division valves are installed between the primary and secondary superheaters. These valves keep the steam generator tubes above the critical pressure. which in turn is controlled by the feedwater pumps. A once through steam generator requires a more precise balance of . in combination with a boiler recirculation pump was developed to minimize thermal shock during transients. and uneven heat transfer could cause tube failures. Cycling operation may be defined as rapid rates of load increase and a significantly larger number of start up and shut down cycles compared to a base load unit. Spiral tube Sulzer furnaces are very similar to the Benson furnaces.• • The spiral tube Benson furnace configuration. but admits steam to only a portion of the throttle valves (partial arc admission) rather than all of the valves (full arc admission). Because of the differences in densities between steam and water. Sliding pressure operation has the further advantage of maintaining full superheat temperature over a wider load range than conventional throttling control. the advantage of reducing feed pump pressure at reduced loads cannot be realized with supercritical cycles. Throttling steam flow is not a reversible process and therefore introduces inefficiencies to the cycle. the turbine operates essentially with throttle valves wide open throughout most of the load range. the boiler pressure remains essentially constant throughout the operating range.

Inc. Comparisons of supercritical cycles are taken from Combustion Fossil Power Systems published by Combustion Engineering. The diagrams are taken from Elements of Applied Thermodynamics. References: 1. July. The statistics on supercritical boiler use is from Power Magazine. 3. 2002 2. . United States Naval Institute Press.inputs and outputs than drum type boilers because of the lack of the flywheel effect of a boiler drum.