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Course № M-1009

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

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

only two feedwater heating stages are shown here. However. High pressure steam is extracted and directed to the high pressure feedwater heater # 1 (line 3). but the greater the temperature difference. (Heat can flow only from hot to cold). For simplicity. because a temperature difference is required for heat transfer to take place. Accordingly. for the cycle being illustrated for additional heaters. as the temperature difference between hot and cold are closer. the same plan would be followed. This does not mean that the heat transfer is more effective when the temperature difference is less. 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. 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. the greater the increase in entropy during the process. Low pressure steam is extracted at a lower pressure turbine stage and is directed to low pressure feedwater heater #2 (line 4). Therefore. completely reversible heat transfer is impossible. This is physically impossible. Completely reversible heat transfer can take place only when there is no temperature difference between the heating and cooling media. solving . The regenerative Rankine cycle is illustrated below. of course. the increase in entropy is less. 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. The rate of heat transfer is proportional to the temperature difference between hot and cold. so the heat transfer is more efficient.extracted from the turbine at various points to heat the condensate and feedwater on its way back to the boiler or steam generator.

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

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

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

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

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. 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. then through the condensate polishers and back to the steam generator. and gradually the waterwall temperature is raised to the point where the turbine can be rolled. Otherwise the concentration of impurities in the system would gradually build up and force an outage for cleaning or repairs. a turbine by-pass system is utilized to divert the steam to flash tanks. The burners are lit. or be carried over into the turbine. In any case. 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. 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. which will vary in details from manufacturer to manufacturer. flow through the tubes must be maintained in order to control the tube metal temperature and prevent tube failure caused by the combustion. the unit is initially fired. The flow continues through the flash tanks (or separators) and on to the condenser. upon which early supercritical designs were based. In a once through steam generator. but were not as well-suited for cycling because of the thermal stresses involved. These proved suitable for base load operation. and brought to partial load on the by-pass system. In all boilers and steam generators. Therefore. 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 boiler feed pump establishes a flow through the economizer and waterwall tubes. and somewhat more complicated than for drum type boilers. The three leading designs are: • Vertical tube multipass furnace. The makeup water and the condensate must be purified. warmed up.above this pressure level represents an approximate limit for drum-type boilers incorporating steam separation and recirculation. . A certain minimum water flow must be established prior to full firing of the steam generator. The fluid system start up for once through steam generators is different. Once through steam generators come equipped with an integral start up system. Therefore at start up and for low loads.

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

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

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