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Repairing low-pressure rotors with cracked blade attachments

Bruce Gans, TurboCare Inc.; Darryl A. Rosario, Structural Integrity Associates Inc.; and Jim Olson and Jerry Best, Tennessee Valley Authority Share on email Share on twitter 1 Pages: 12 An increasing number of low-pressure steam turbines—especially at supercritical fossil units— have experienced stress corrosion cracking in the blade attachment region of their low-pressure rotors. Approaches to solving this problem range from redesign of the attachment and blade replacement to in-situ weld repair. Regardless of the procedure selected, the solution must completely restore the turbine performance while minimizing outage duration. Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA’s) Paradise Fossil Plant, located in western Kentucky, consists of three units that began commercial operation between 1963 and 1970 that have a total generating capacity of 2,273 MW (Figure 1). In 2007, there was trouble in Paradise at Unit 3.

1. Many cracks found. Unit 3 at Tennessee Valley Authority’s Paradise Fossil Plant uses a supercritical steam generator operating at 3,500 psig. The steam turbine is configured as a crosscompound four-flow with 52-inch last-stage blades (CC4F52). Rotor repairs were recently completed on both low-pressure steam turbines to correct cracks found in blades and rotors caused by stress corrosion cracking. Courtesy: TVA Unit 3 is equipped with a Babcock & Wilcox supercritical steam generator operating at 3,500 psig with 1,000F main and reheat. The 1,150-MW steam turbine is a General Electric cross-

compound design whose high-pressure (HP) and first reheat (IP1) turbine section are coupled to a 3. The double-flow IP (IP2) and the two low-pressure (LP) turbines are connected to a second generator. . This is the Unit 3 LP-B rotor chucked up in a lathe for machining. Double rotor inspection. It weighs 308. The spring 2007 maintenance outage at Unit 3 included a standard nondestructive examination (NDE) rotor inspection with phased array ultrasonic test (UT) inspections of the L-2 and L-3 blade wheel attachments in the LP turbines. rotating at 1.800 rpm. 2. extended repair outage was necessary. Also. Courtesy: TVA TVA’s standard steam turbine inspection interval is approximately 10 years.600-rpm generator. although the extent and severity of cracking in the dovetail attachments was different between the stages. The indicators were confined to the L-2 and L-3 stages of each LP rotor. double-expansion turbines. The shroud failures and disk root indications strongly suggested that an early. the L-2 stage on the LPB rotor shroud covers on a section of the stage appeared to have moved outward and contacted the stationary diaphragm (Figure 3). Each LP turbine has a double-flow configuration with 52-inch last-stage blades (Figure 2). Test results showed multiple indicators of what was believed to be stress corrosion cracking (SCC) on both LP rotors.275 pounds and is 17 feet from tip to tip of the largest blades. There are 127 blades plus 1 locking (notch) blade in the L-3 row. The low-pressure turbine is configured with two.

To assist others facing similar problems. In the case of Unit 3. SCC was identified in both LP turbine rotors. but they are not unusual. The steam dry-to-wet phase transition zone in an LP turbine is typically the location of the worst SCC. the decision criteria used. L-3 stage repair The vulnerability of the L-3 stage dovetails to SCC during normal operation is limited because minimal wetness is present at this location. this article reviews the repair options for each stage identified by the TVA.3. Courtesy: TVA The problems experienced by Paradise Unit 3 may be expensive and time-consuming to repair. and the solutions selected. Severe cracking in the dovetail of a typical fossil LP turbine is illustrated in Figure 4. Shroud of turbine. . The inspection also found that the LP-B rotor L-2 stage shrouds had failed.

Courtesy: TurboCare Inc.4. For the LP-B rotor’s L-3 stage. From a remaining life standpoint. TVA elected to remove the notch blades to confirm the UT inspection results as well as the location and extent of the indications. . A magnetic particle test (MT) was used to confirm the indication depth and length. A typical low-pressure steam turbine blade dovetail damaged by stress corrosion cracking. but another five indications were found by MT that had been overlooked by UT. the worst combination of indications were aligned circumferentially at the stage 2T upper and middle hooks near the notch entry after excavation (Figure 5). which can cause extensive damage if the condition is not quickly corrected. Only two of the eight indications reported by the UT were confirmed with MT. Imminent failure.

The most significant indications were reported in lower dovetail hooks of the L-3 stages. The worst indication was measured by MT after excavation as having a maximum depth of 0.56 inch and a length of 2. . Additional UT tests of the L-3 stage LP-A rotor were performed in April 2007. LP-B rotor critical indications numbers 8 and 10 on the L-3 stage discharge side middle and upper hooks are shown after completing excavation. Courtesy: TurboCare Inc.5.5 inches (Figure 6). The indications were caused by stress corrosion cracking. Many indications found.

both short-term and long-term mitigation strategies for dovetail SCC were considered. LP-A rotor critical indication number 8 is illustrated on the L-3 discharge side lower hook. and bottom loading lands. For the two rotors. at rated speed (1. Evaluating the options. although replacing steel blades with titanium blades creates a mass imbalance on the rotor. Source: TurboCare Inc. middle. A finite element model of the LP-A L-3 dovetail determined the level of stress found normal to the cracks and included load transfer from the blade to the disk on the three lands. The good news was that the cracks found on each wheel were confined to the entrance notch area. The blade root (dovetail) FEM section (Figure 7) was also included in the FEM with gap (contact) elements simulating load transfer from the blade to the disk at the top. More problem indicators. which are 43% lighter than steel. A plot of the rotor dovetail region of the FEM is shown in Figure 7. An excavation of 0. .5625 inch x 2.800 rpm). TVA’s detailed analysis began with collecting the dovetail profile dimensional data and constructing a finite element model (FEM) of the L-3 dovetail. Reduce loading at crack locations adjacent to the notch by pinning the notch blade directly to the wheel Reduce blade load by using titanium blades. as are the calculated stresses normal to typical dovetail crack trajectories. 7. Stressed blades.6.5 inch was ground out for the repair. To determine which option to choose. Courtesy: TurboCare Inc. Sorting through all the available short-term repair options produced a short list of strategies that would minimize the length of a repair outage:    Do nothing. These stress distributions are normal to the plane of cracking away from the notch entry.

A crack depth uncertainty of ±0. However. Its development by Structural Integrity Associates was sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute. The probabilistic simulation results from LPRimLife estimated the “cumulative probability of failure” versus operating time in years for each of the three repair options:    The “do nothing” option returned very high failure probabilities for the notch after another year of operation.65% (Figure 8). Wetness is a prerequisite.01%. and confirmed with the extensive SCC discovered in the L-2 stage dovetails. LPRimLife is a program that evaluates the remaining life of rotors with known or suspected blade-attachment cracking. the L-3 stage is not expected to run “wet” during normal operation. The first step in the evaluation was to estimate the stage operating temperature and wetness. Also. is consistent with this prediction. and the like. and lower hooks and was based on the NDE and/or grindout confirmation values.060 inch and length uncertainty of ±1. as SCC is not expected for attachments that encounter superheated steam during steady-state operation but during transient start-up and shutdown conditions. This is accounted for in LPRimLife software using a load scale factor. as required by the rotor fracture mechanics software code. Three loading options at the notch were evaluated over the expected operating load range. To account for transient wetness. .750 hours per year of wet time were conservatively simulated in the L-3 dovetail evaluation. at overspeed up to 110%. The less severe cracking in the L-3 stage dovetails. makes the attachments susceptible to SCC. wetness during operation. The option of pinning the blade to the wheel as an interim fix significantly reduced the failure probability to below 1% for five more years of operation. The option of replacing the banded group of blades at the entrance notch with titanium blades resulted in a prediction of 10 more years of operation with a failure probability below 0. The code also accounted for the crack depth and length in the upper. unlike the dry-to-wet transition predicted to be just upstream of the L-2 stage. when the dovetail attachments are fully loaded. 1. middle. or 20 more years with a failure probability below 0. Evaluating simulation results. with two different rotor start-up temperature profiles.The stresses do not include the load increase at the notch entry. which was confined to the entrance notch area.0 inch were simulated.

This creates a dynamic couple imbalance on the rotor that requires a significant weight correction. But it knew that the difference in material density between the existing and the new. lighter-weight blades would create a significant mass imbalance on the disk that would adversely affect rotor vibration. Rebalancing. Source: TurboCare Inc.65%. the total imbalance would be double that for one disk.01%. Because both L-3 stages on each rotor would be modified with the titanium blades. To address this concern an analysis was completed that determined the potential imbalance on the rotor and the expected change in rotor vibration. The analysis results showed that using titanium blades with notch blades pinned to the wheel. or 20 more years with a failure probability below 0. .8. To minimize repair cost and reduce repair time. TVA did not want to disturb the remaining blades on the wheel. with three pins in the axial to the wheel and four cross-pins. The choice of repair strategy for LP-A rotor stage L-3 (stage 6) dovetails was determined by a detailed probabilistic analysis by Structured Integrity Associates using the LPRimLife life assessment computer program it developed for EPRI. The L-0 stages were not considered for the correction but were reserved for trim balancing in operation. The correction capacity for the existing balance planes on the L-1 and L-4 stages was insufficient to correct for the expected imbalance. TVA selected the third option as the most effective interim repair for mitigating the risk of dovetail failure at the notch. was predicted to deliver 10 more years of operation with a failure probability below 0. Option 3 selected. The entrance slots to the two L-3 stages are oriented 180 degrees out of phase with respect to each other.

To correct for the imbalance. with 78 indications ranging in depth from 0. Ninety-eight indications were dispersed on all the hooks and were distributed around the entire wheel with a depth ranging from 0. Removal of the two vanes did not precisely balance out the titanium group. TurboCare Inc. so each rotor was low-speed balanced prior to reassembly to minimize residual imbalance. The LP-A rotor (turbine end) was found to be in a similar state. The LP-A rotor also presented the complication of a lacing (tie) wire in both disks that required adjustment with the removal of the two vanes. requiring a complete redesign of the blade. Acceptable rotor vibration on both rotors was achieved running up through the critical speeds and at operation speed. and assembly of replacement blades for the L-2 stages were completed concurrently with repairs on the L-2 stages. and the use of titanium at the notch area to reduce blade attachment stresses. The design. No trim balance corrections were needed on either rotor. Darryl A. Collectively. The L-2 disks had more extensive disk dovetail cracks. the longshank repair would also require the longest repair time in an already compressed upcoming planned outage. machining. Rosario. The redesign also . investigated several repair options to achieve TVA’s goals. Tennessee Valley Authority Share on email Share on twitter 3 Pages: 12 L-2 stage repair Ultrasonic testing results for the LP-B rotor found many more indications than on the L-3 rows just discussed.04 inch to 0. TVA expressed a strong desire to maintain its original outage schedule on the turbines and to minimize any reduction in power generation after the repairs were completed. Bigger problems/bigger solutions. in conjunction with Structural Integrity. However. and Jim Olson and Jerry Best.26 inch on all three hook fillets and on both sides of the wheel. the team determined the best solution was a longshank replacement design.04 inch to 0.. The removal of the blades required the shroud band groupings to be evaluated to ensure that there was not a significant change to blade natural frequencies. two vanes were removed from each disk at approximately the five and seven o’clock positions to counterbalance the mass reduction at the titanium blades.39 inch on the generator end.. Structural Integrity Associates Inc. The L-2 stage was much more susceptible than the L-3 stage to SCC because of higher stresses in the root and higher moisture content in the steam. TurboCare. Repairing low-pressure rotors with cracked blade attachments Bruce Gans. modification of the wheel rim. discussed in the next section.

Because of TurboCare’s experience with many other longshank blade projects. The minimum distance required to reestablish the root form is determined by overlaying the excavations and the root form. which contributes to SCC (Figure 9). The dovetail was machined with modified fillet radii to reduce the peak stresses for two reasons: to offset the additional weight from the longshank modification and to reduce the stress concentration factor of the geometry. the amount of drop—and therefore the amount of material removal required to ensure all the cracks were removed—was engineered and implemented with minimal delay. This approach could have lengthened the outage. Concurrently. .included L-2 blade frequency testing and optimum frequency tuning of blades with over/under shroud covers for vibration control. The longshank redesign process also allowed the attachment form to be improved from stock conditions. Repair of the L-2 stage involved machining the wheel root form in undamaged material. The general approach has been to first remove all blades and then to grind out the deepest indications to determine the crack depth. the design and manufacture of the replacement blades was started before the original blades were removed from the existing wheel. The reduction in peak stress is typically 10% to 15% for this modification.

An important element in this process was designing a replacement blade with natural frequencies away from the operating speed. The inner shroud is assembled with a clearance around the tenon. and blade count. and the outer segment is rigidly connected to the upper section of the tenon (Figure 10).9. shank length. several parameters are investigated to optimize frequencies such as vane scaling. The tuning of frequencies was required to compensate for the change in the root attachment location. Frequency and vibration management. Generally in the design process. the rotor must be machined to a reduced diameter and a new dovetail added. Another important feature of the design is the use of chain link or over/under shroud covers. shroud configuration. Courtesy: TurboCare Inc. This design replaces the original single shroud segment with a two-tiered shroud. Despite the short lead time to engineer a repair. The blade on the left side is nearly identical to the L-2 longshank design used on this project. The inner and outer segments are circumferentially offset . Add longer blades. all design calculations were expedited to minimize any outage delays. To accommodate the longer blade.

Darryl A. The final design required removal of all the SCC-damaged material and replacement with a set of blades tuned away from resonance frequencies.gov) is a principal engineer and Jerry Best (hgbest@tva. five titanium blades are assembled 180 degrees opposite the entrance notch group. Rosario. Experience has shown that SCC usually occurs at this location first because of the locking closure piece arrangement.com) is chief technical officer for TurboCare Inc. This configuration provides a significant increase in vibration damping and also suppression of several fundamental vibration modes caused by steam path excitation. PE (drosario@structint. Lapped joints. A typical over/under shroud assembly was added to L-2 to continuously couple the blade tips.gov) is manager of the steam cycle and generator systems department for Tennessee Valley Authority. —Bruce Gans (bgans@turbocare. To minimize the potential mass imbalance on the rotor for the titanium blades at the notch. Titanium reduces the centrifugal load of the blades on the wheel in this area because of the 43% reduction in material density. and improved geometry to reduce the reoccurrence of SCC.com) is an associate with Structural Integrity Associates Inc. . Courtesy: TurboCare Inc. superior damping for vibration control. These repairs were supplemented with a low-speed rotor balance at the site for a smooth turbine restart. Jim Olson (jrolson@tva. the design included five titanium blades at the entrance notch. The complete treatment plan. 10. This design approach increases blade vibration damping. To decrease the likelihood of SCC reoccurring in the repair. This design provides an additional vibration safety margin with the ability to supplement tuning of blade frequencies to avoid the impulse line (1X running speed) with both the five and six nodal diameters.to provide a continuous coupling of the blade tips.