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Cooling Tower and its Gearbox Overhaul

Operations and Maintenance Report on the cooling tower design, principles and application, and complete report on overhauling of its gearbox. Advisor Engr.Wahab Javed 7/15/2008 Submitted by Sharoon Saleem (MMD intern)
Sharoon Saleem (MMD intern)

Cooling Tower and its Gearbox Overhaul


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Cooling Tower
A cooling tower is a heat rejection device, which extracts waste heat to the atmosphere though the cooling of a water stream to a lower temperature. The type of heat rejection in a cooling tower is termed "evaporative" in that it allows a small portion of the water being cooled to evaporate into a moving air stream to provide significant cooling to the rest of that water stream. The heat from the water stream transferred to the air stream raises the air's temperature and its relative humidity to 100%, and this air is discharged to the atmosphere. The towers vary in size from small roof -top units to very large hyperboloid structures that can be up to 200 meters tall and 100 meters in diameter, or rectangular structures that can be over 40 meters tall and 80 meters long. At Lalpir/PakGen Cooling Towers are mainly used to condense steam coming from the low pressure turbine to create vacuum and hence act as driving force for steam. The type of cooling tower installed at AES Lalpir/Pakgen in the induced draught counter flow cooling tower. Induced Draught Counter Flow Cooling Tower This type of cooling tower is perhaps most common . It can be identified by the fan at the top of the tower. T he fan pulls air up through the tower in the opposite direction to which the water is falling. The air usually enters the tower through inlet louvers on the sides of the tower.

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The name counter flow is derived from the air flow which is directly opposite of the water flow. The term induced draft is because it is a mechanical draft tower with a fan at the discharge which pulls air through tower. The fan induces hot moist air out the discharge. This produces low entering and high exiting air velocities, reducing the possibility of recirculation in which discharged air flows back into the air intake. This fan/fill arrangement is also known as drawthrough . The counter flow tower has a fill configuration through which air flows vertically upward, counter to the falling water. The figure shows a schematic of the Lalpir/PakGen cooling tower. The fill is arranged over the entire tower plan area rather than just at the outer perimeter as in the cross flow tower. The air enters the tower through the openings in the lower portion of the tower, turns 90 degrees, and passes upward thr ough the fill section, where heat and mass transfer between the air and the water take place. The air then passes through the drift eliminators above the fill, enters the tower plenum space, and passes out through the fan stack. The fill in the counter flo w tower is a typical film type fill. The fill consists of densely packed, vertically oriented sheets of material [PVC], and functions by causing the hot water to flow down the surfaces of the fill in a thin continous film. As air passes over the water film, heat and mass transfer occur at the surface of the water film. This form of cooling tower has the advantage of maximum exposure of water to airflow. However, the thermal performance of this type of fill is extremel y sensitive to poor water distribution, as well as to the air blockage and turbulence that a poorly designed fill support system can perpetuate. The overall tower design must assure uniform air and water flow throughout the entire fill area. Counter flow Advantages: -Maximum thermal efficiency, -Smallest tower, -Lowest capital cost, -creates lower tower pumping head than cross flow tower. The important points deduced are:

Cooling Tower and its Gearbox Overhaul


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1) The interaction of the air and water flow allows a partial equalization and evaporation of water. 2) The air, now saturated with water vapor, is discharged from the cooling tower. 3) A collection or cold water basin is used to contain the water after its interaction with the air flow.

Components:
Blades: The fan model used at the plant is Hudson Tuflite series t -30 having a radial blade of 16 in radius. The stability of blades is a crucial factor under rotation as a slight malfunctioning can result in severe failure of the gearbox. The claimed advantages of the manufacturer include: High Toughness, Light-weight construction , Safety, High efficiency , High static pressure capabilities , Low noise, Individual blades balanced to a master standard , Ultra-violet resistant , Erosion and chemical resistan t.

Fills: Inside the tower, fills are added to increase contact surface as well as contact time between air and water. Thus they provide better heat transfer. The efficiency of the tower also depends on them. There are two types of fills that may be used:

Film type fill (causes water to spread into a thin film) Splash type fill (breaks up water and interrupts its vertical progress)

Pressurized Nozzles: Pressurized nozzles are employed in the stated cooling tower type to sprinkle hot water from the source, this water is cooled as it converts to streams by the air sucked in by the cooling tower fan.

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Gearbox: The most complex and driving part of the cooling tower is the gearbox of the fan. The Sumitomo gearbox at AES Lalpir/Pakgen comprises of a simple gear train with helical gear, spiral bevel pinion shaft and a spiral bevel gear set . The purpose of the gearbox is to reduce the driving force by a set of two gears, Inlet To Fan

The shaft at inlet of the gearbox has a pinion gear on the other end connected to an assembly of bevel gears (labeled 100) which act as the first speed reducer. Spiral-bevel gears have teeth that are curved and oblique to their axes. The contact

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begins at one end of the tooth and progresses to the other.

An important point to consider in this design is the backlash 3 factor, the backlash is crucial as it can make the gear movement jerky which in turn can affect the life of the bearings attached (labeled 600,6oi). From bevel g ear duo the rotating shaft holding the bevel gear further drives the shaft that runs the fan blades. The bearings in this assembly are chosen to be tapered roller bearings because of their ability to store both radial and axial loads.

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Rolling-contact bearings use balls and rollers to exploit the small coefficients of when hard bodies roll on each other. The balls and rollers are kept separated and equally spaced by a separator (cage, or retainer). This device, which is essential for proper bearing functioning, is responsible for additional friction. End plates mark the end of the inside of the gearbox assembly and the exposed part of the shaft connected to the fan. Labyrinth Cover accounts for the dire need of a water tight environment inside the gearbox.

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Overhauling Report:
Cooling tower, (for common terms consult glossary), gear reducers historically have been one of the least reliable pieces of equipment on the cooling tower. The gear reducers are typically mounted in the moist exit airstream directly below the fans, and routine scheduled maintenance is iften neglected. Inadequate lubrication, inappropriate lubricant viscosities, infrequent oil changes, and general neglect wil l eventually lead to bearing failure. Other problems can arise from inadequate service factors and bearing life 3 rating . CTI Standard 111 recommends a minimum service factor for cooling tower gear reducers of 2.0 and a minimum output shaft bearing L -10 expectancy of 100,000h*. In large cooling towera, fans have large diameters to handle the large volumes of air more efficiently and to reduce fan horsepower requirements. For many years, this has necessitated a two piece drive shaft with an intermediate bea ring coupling between the two pieces. This textbook model is the one in operation at Lalpir/PakGen. The intermediate bearing has historically been a high maintenance requiring item*(replacement). Malfunction was reported on 5 t h July 2008, the gear box was disassembled and brought to mechanical maintenance workshop for repair. The end plate was badly damaged, the labyrinth cover showed signs of damage as well. The tapered roller bearing at the mouth of the gearbox at the exit shaft was damaged and rendered useless. The end plate was to be made by casting. Critical analysis was carried out to find the root cause of failure. The following theories of failure were developed at MMD on inspection of the gearbox:

1) Initially there was a finding of copper tube blockage due to incompatible oil causing insufficient gear lubrication leading to gear damage. As a result, the copper tube was replaced by SS tube. This problem was solved but the damage of gears continued indicating some other factors also. 2) Initially the fans were running with the blade pitch angle of 16 17 over loading the gear box and causing to increase the temperature of oil which in turn became the cause of damage of gear boxes. Later on, Sumitomo was consulted. The pitch angle provided by them was 14 to 15. This helped to reduce further the damage of gear boxes.

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3) Initially the fans were running with the blade pitch angle of 16 17 over loading the gear box and causing to increase the temperature of oil which in turn became the cause of damage of gear boxes. Later on, Sumitomo was consulted. The pitch angle provided by them was 14 to 15. This helped to reduce further the damage of gear boxes. 4) Shell Omala 220 oil is being used in CT gear boxes. The operating range of which is 30 C ambient temperatures but in actual, we have got 45 C to 48 C in summer season which is another cause of CT gear boxes damage. To overcome the problem we have recently replaced Shell omalla 220 with synthetic oil (Mobil HSC 630) in three gear boxes namely 1E, 1F & 1G. The result of this change is encouraging as there is a reduction in temperature of 2 C to 3 C as compared to other gear boxes having Shell Omala 220, for details see section below. 5) Blade thrust imbalance could cause the shaft to be under large forces that if unbalanced by the bearing could damage it and once the bearin g was damaged the cycle mentioned in theory 1 could have continued. 6) A particle of the gears assembly could have been torn off due to pitti ng, causing bearing failure . 7) Use of an inappropriate lubricant, whose viscosity level was higher than that required by the bearings and gears. 8) Initially, backlash2 /end floats of all gears were unknown and were adjusted by hit & trial method. During the course of time, Sumitomo was consulted and they provided backlash /end floats data. After using this data although, the problem was reduced but could not be eliminated.
9) The fan installed on the gear boxes for self cooling is not providing sufficient cooling air to the gear boxes. Besides all above factors the gear boxes are being operated above there capacity due to which any slight change in any of the parameters affect adversely.

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Estimated cost of gear boxes overhauled


From March, 2002 to March, 2008 Total gear boxes overhauled Material cost per gear box Labor cost per gear box for removal, Overhauling and installation. Total amount per gear box Heat Rate loss per day per cooling tower 38 Nos. Rs.450000 approx. Rs.40000 approx. Rs.485000 approx. $ 4658

Tab le 1 . B a sed o n d at a p r o v id ed b y m ech a n i ca l m a in ten an ce d ep ar t m e n t.

Information acquired from condition: 1) Bearing failure, the bearing at the mouth of the output shaft to the fan blade was found to be damaged . 2) End plate at the opening was also completely damaged. 3) The labrynth cover showed slight indications of damage due to shaft movement as well.

Lubricant being used in the Gearbox


The gearbox uses splash type lubrication emp loying the oil pump at base of gearbox. Need of lubricant: Extreme temperatures, Excessive shut downs from mechanical problems, Equipment failure with mineral lubricants, High energy consumption, Excessive parts consumption, such as bearings, Inaccessible lubrication points .

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Bearing failure as per inspection was due to improper lubrication, the data sheet for the bearing is:
d D T C/N C o /N P u /N Sp eed r at in g , lu b r ican t(o i l) r /m in Sp eed r ati n g , lu b r ic an t( gr e as e) r /m in m/ kg Nu mb er

15 0

27 0

49

42 90 00

56 00 0

57 00 0

1300

1800

11

30230

The tripping temperature was reported to be 96 0 C, implying the lubricant to be used should have a high viscosity index. The lubricant being used inside the gearbox was Shell Omala 220, a mineral oil. Its properties are :

COOLING TOWER GEAR BOX OIL ANALYSIS (Shell Omala 220) As per 19-Mar-08
Sample Kinematic viscosity (cSt) @ 40 C 220 (198 ~ 242) LP Omala-220 Batch#10016876-062006 (New unopened Top) LP Omala-220 Batch#10017665-072007 (Open drum LP Top used) PG Omala-220 Batch#10019314-072007 (Open drum PG Down used) Kinematic viscosity (cSt) @ 100 C 19.4 (17.46 ~ 21.34) Viscosity Index2 Emulsification Characteristics Total acid number (mg KOH/gm)

Foaming (ml) Seq II

Water By Crackle Method Nil Nil Nil

Min. 100

Emulsion Max. 3 ml

Max. 0.5

223 218 221

19.79 19.86 21.00

102 105 112

3 3 3

0.24 0.21 0.29

50/0 0/0 0/0

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Performance Features and Benefits Outstanding oxidation and thermal stability Withstands high thermal loading and resists the formation of sludge. Provides extended oil life, even with bulk oil temperatures of up to 100C in certain applications. Effective corrosion inhibition Protects both steel and bronze components, even in the presence of contamination by water and solids.

Lead-free Operator acceptability. Reduced health and product removal risks. Wide range of viscosities Caters for the most varied and arduous industrial applications. Water shedding properties Omala also have excellent water separation properties, such that excess water can be drained easily from lubrication systems. Water can greatly accelerate surface fatigue with gears and bearings as well as promoting ferrous corrosion on internal surfaces. Water contamination should therefore be avoided or removed as quickly as possible after the occurrence. However for high temperature and efficiency requiring assemblies, a switch over has been made to synthetic oils , the graph below provides the necessar y comparison:

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At increasing temperatures, the lubricant shows a higher viscosity than mineral oil. The pink region marking the increased protection at higher temperatures and superior flow at lower temperatures.

The viscosity index of mineral oil only barely met the requiremts of the gearbox as temperatures of 96 were often reported at which the cooling tower trips. An improvement that can be made and was actually made was to use a synthetic oil as replacement, as clearly shown by the deductions f rom the graph. Synthetic oil lubricants cater to the lubricating needs of the gearbox more effectively.

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Recommendations:
1) The lubricant change is likely to enhance performance and decrease the failure rate

substantially; results should be monitored of the number of times the tower trips due to temperature issues in the gearbox.
2) The number of instances reported of gearbox overhauls exceed 35 implying there is a

need for an improvement in design, and since the gearboxes have cost more than there price in maintenance, its a very considerable option to replace them with the modern enhanced design gearboxes.
3) Maintenance procedure requires a proper code of instructions to be provided, which

clearly mentions the heating temperature to fix bearings etc. So maintenance operations are well documented and are free of errors of all sorts.

4) The market leaders design for the cooling tower gearbox with its claimed benefits is

attached; it provides an edge because of its ability to supersede competitors on the temperature sustainability, low maintenance and high performance grounds.

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Glossary

Some commonly used terms in the cooling tower industry

Drift - Water droplets that are carried out of the cooling tower with the exhaust air. Drift droplets have the same concentration of impurities as the water entering the tower. The drift rate is typically reduced by employing baffle -like devices, called drift eliminators, through which the air must travel after leaving the fill and spray zones of the tower.

Blow-out - Water droplets blown out of the cooling tower by wind, generally at the air inlet openings. Water may also be lost, in the absence of wind, throug h splashing or misting. Devices such as wind screens, louvers, splash deflectors and water diverters are used to limit these losses.

Plume - The stream of saturated exhaust air leaving the cooling tower. The plume is visible when water vapor it contains condenses in contact with cooler ambient air, like the saturated air in one's breath fogs on a cold day. Under certain conditions, a cooling tower plume may present fogging or icing hazards to its surroundings. Note that the water evaporated in the cooling process is "pure" water, in contrast to the very small percentage of drift droplets or water blown out of the air inlets.

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Blow-down - The portion of the circulating water flow that is removed in order to maintain the amount of dissolved solids and other impurities at an acceptable level. It may be noted that higher TDS (total dissolved solids) concentration in solution results in greater potential cooling tower efficiency. However the higher the TDS concentration, the greater the risk of scale, biological growth and corrosion. Noise - Sound energy emitted by a cooling tower and heard (recorded) at a given distance and direction. The sound is generated by the impact of falling water, by the movement of air by fans, the fan blades moving in the structure, a nd the motors, gearboxes or drive belts. Approach - The approach is the difference in temperature between the cooled -water temperature and the entering -air wet bulb temperature (twb). Since the cooling towers are based on the principles of evaporative cooling, the maximum cooling tower efficiency depends on the wet bulb temperature of the air. Range - The range is the temperature difference between the water inlet and water exit. Fill - Inside the tower, fills are added to increase contact surface as well as contact time between air and water. Thus they provide better heat transfer. The efficiency of the tower also depends on them. There are two types of fills that may be used: Film type fill (causes water to spread into a thin film) Splash type fill (breaks up water and interrupts its vertical progress) 1 VI (Viscosity Index) An arbitrary scale used to show the magnitude of viscosity changes in lubricating oils with changes in temperature. Oils with low VI number such as VI=0 ("zero") have high dependence of viscosity change on temperature. They thicken quickly with decreasing temperature, and thin out quickly with increasing temperature. Oils with high VI number such as VI=200, will still thicken with decreasing temperature but not as rapidly, and also will thin out with increasing temperature, but again not as much as low VI oil.

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VI number can also be "negative" Tables found in ASTM Method D 2270 are widely used to determine VI number.

However, VI does not tell the whole story -- it only reflects the viscosity/temperature relationship between temperatures of 40C and 100C. Two lubricants or base oils with the same VI number may perform dramatically different at low temperatures in the -5C to - 50C range.
2. Backlash is the amount by which the width of a tooth space exceeds the thickness of the engaging

tooth measured on the pitch circle 3. Bearing life is defined as the length of time, or the number of revolutions, until a fatigue spall of a specific size develops. This spall size, regardless of the size of the bearing, is defined by an area of 0.01 inch 2 (6 mm 2 ). This life depends on many different factors such as loading, speed, lubrication, fitting, setting, operating temperature, contamination, maintenance, plus many other environmental factors. Due to all these factors, the life of an individual bearing is impossible to predict precisely. Also, bear ings that may appear to be identical can exhibit considerable life scatter when tested under identical conditions. 4. Detailed cross sectional picture of gearbox from maintenance books attached with indicated failure points.

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