Reducing SCR Fly Ash Accumulation with Improved Reactor Inlet Airflow

10/01/2013 | Scott Hiedeman, Reid Thomas, Dale Pfaff, and Diane Fischer Poor airflow around its selective catalytic reactor (SCR) was causing heavy fly ash accumulation and pluggage at Kansas City Power & Light’s 815-MW La Cygne Unit 1. Flow modeling and redesign of the SCR hood led to dramatically improved conditions and reduced maintenance costs. The Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) La Cygne Generating Station provides 1,532 MW of peak power from its site south of Kansas City. La Cygne Unit 1 is an 815-MW Babcock & Wilcox cyclone boiler with overfire air and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) nitrogen oxide (NOx) controls. Unit 1 burns a blend of 90% Powder River Basin (PRB) and 10% local Missouri coal. The unit’s SCR was installed in 2007 with a 3 + 1 catalyst layer configuration, which consists of three initial layers of catalyst with one spare layer for future use. In the fall of 2012, plant staff vacuumed 2,900,000 pounds of fly ash from the SCR after a 17-month operating cycle. This was twice the typical amount of fly ash removed in previous outages because the unit had operated for an extended time with a low demand load factor. However, the catalyst pluggage of approximately 50% was typical of previous operating cycles. The SCR consists of two reactor casings separated by a common division wall. Flue gas enters the SCR North Side B and South Side A of the SCR hood to flow down through these separated casings. Fly ash would accumulate 5 to 6 feet deep near the SCR north to south reactor casing division wall (Figure 1). The fly ash accumulation caused high ash removal costs, high catalyst replacement costs, high catalyst pressure drop and fan power costs, and high ammonia slip and ammonia reagent costs. In addition, cleaning the catalyst became a critical path activity during outages. The fly ash accumulation also caused unit capacity derates in combination with other draft losses.


vertical. mounds of  ash have built up near the reactor casing division wall. These included installation of missing flow control baffles. flue gas flow must be of uniform velocity. ■ Trusses and large gusset plates in the SCR inlet duct and hood restricted flow to the upper four SCR hood turning vanes. These minor repairs were not successful. KCP&L La Cygne initiated computational fluid dynamics (CFD) flow modeling with Fuel Tech to determine the cause of fly ash accumulation and correct flow variances to the catalyst. A big problem. covering or removal of horizontal vane and beam surfaces. The turning vanes also collected ash on horizontal surfaces because of low flow. In 2010. ■ The egg crate structural support steel created flow disturbances that could not be corrected in the short distance to the first catalyst layer. and these ash piles sloughed off during forced draft (FD) fan startups. because they were not addressing the root cause of poor flow distribution. The CFD analysis shown in Figure 2 indicated problem areas.1. Poor Flow and Many Restrictions To keep PRB fly ash moving through the catalyst. corrections to the sonic horn. Here. Courtesy: KCP&L  Many minor changes were attempted through the first five years of SCR operation. and without recirculation. including the following: ■ SCR inlet duct north-south contraction pushed flow to the lower four SCR hood turning vanes. ■ The turning vanes and perforated plate on top of the original egg crate flow-straightening grid created flow recirculation zones that caused fly ash dropout. Poor airflow was causing heavy fly ash accumulation in the SCR. . and enlarging the honeycomb ceramic catalyst pitch.

 This CFD profile of baseline velocity results in the SCR hood area shows widely  variable airflow and areas of recirculation behind the turning vanes. and evaluate constructability. and the high price of continuing catalyst ash pluggage. With the short time frame for design and fabrication.  Courtesy: Fuel Tech  The flue gas recirculated behind the SCR hood turning vanes.2. with the outage scheduled for October. structural engineering. The Redesign Modification of the SCR hood was originally planned for the fall of 2013. the contracted services were secured for flow modeling. Because of these issues. . Catalyst installation was planned for Layers 2-3-4 to allow Layer 1 to be a work platform for the SCR hood modifications. A planned boiler inspection outage was extended to accommodate the work. Flow device fabrication was performed off-site at fabrication shops to speed production. Black & Veatch was contracted to provide design drawings and specifications. and construction installation. review the flow modeling and proposed flow distribution devices. Probable flow distribution devices were detailed by engineering to obtain construction installation bids. fabrication. low demand load factors on KCP&L and Westar systems in 2012. KCP&L decided that the existing flow-straightening devices needed to be removed and replaced with a new design that addressed the findings of the flow model. Fabrication was scheduled to continue through the start of the October outage because demolition would occur before new materials would be needed. Design of the new flow distribution devices for the SCR hood began in July 2012. Uneven conditions. resulting in ash dropout. The entire team participated in preliminary flow model result review meetings to provide immediate input to flow modeling and direction to engineering. led to the decision to move the project up for a 2012 installation. but the fly ash did not follow this twisting route and instead fell out on the catalyst layers. However.

The SCR inlet flue contraction and truss/gussets were both working to push flow to the SCR inlet corner and away from the back half of the SCR reactor casings at the division wall. the GSG combines the turning vanes and straightening grid into a single sloped grid. The GSG blade detail drawing was completed in advance. This solution is also extremely sensitive to changes to the upstream flow distribution. The SCR hood truss/gussets and egg crate structural steel were creating large flow velocity variances before the first catalyst layer.A CFD modeling study analyzed the removal of the SCR hood turning vanes and replacement with Fuel Tech’s Graduated Straightening Grid (GSG) technology. Removal of all internal structures had the best results. and its support steel. and flow was vertical out of the GSG. The CFD model was reanalyzed. The turning vanes were tuned to achieve an even velocity distribution while the straightening grid below straightened the flow direction. the flow statistics were still not close enough to the recommended +/–15% of mean. GSG technology improves on traditional SCR airflow design in several ways. controlling the velocity distribution and flow direction into the face of the first catalyst layer was accomplished with large turning vanes along with a straightening grid placed immediately above the catalyst. Engineering added the final . removal of the egg crate support steel. but removal of the egg crate steel had a nearly identical result without the expense of replacing the SCR hood truss system. Installation The conceptual design developed by Fuel Tech in the flow model was then developed into detailed design drawings for fabrication and installation. as it is much less sensitive to upstream flow distributions compared to traditional solutions. The final modification arrangement included demolition of the turning vanes in the hood of the SCR reactors and demolition of the original egg crate flow straightener. The GSG has been shown to be a robust flow corrective solution in a number of previous installations. to turn the flue gas and fly ash vertically into the first catalyst layer. perforated plate. This means that the catalyst and catalyst performance are protected even when the unit is not running at optimum design conditions. based on Fuel Tech’s standard design. Until recently. However. The CFD model run was used to tune a variable perforated plate across the leading edge of the GSG blades at several positions. and removal of both truss and egg crate. The GSG device consists of parallel plates installed in the SCR hood on the diagonal. This variable perforated plate prevented excess flue gas from making the quick turn into the front of the reactors and pushed more flow past the truss/gusset system to the back half of the reactors. the flow statistics were not within the project team’s target of +/–15% of arithmetic mean velocity. In contrast. However. and any changes to the system require remodeling and retuning of the vanes to maintain the required distributions. including economizer bypass operation. considering three scenarios: removal of the two trusses. The turning vane system requires exact spacing and angling of turning vanes during SCR construction to ensure required flow distributions are met. The CFD model results showed that installation of the GSG corrected the large flow recirculation zones.

5% root mean squared (rms). Engineering also began redesign of the support for the SCR pressure load where the egg crate support steel was removed. uniform velocity to  the catalyst. Fabrication time at six different shops was secured to laser or plasma cut all the perforated plate parts. The new design produced vertical. The late addition of the variable perforated plate added a complication to the fabrication schedule. A perforated plate was needed on the GSG blades’ leading edge to overcome the low flow at the SCR A and B division wall. The flow statistics did not quite reach the desired project goal of 100% of all flow velocities within +/–15% of arithmetic mean. The final GSG device with perforated plate was installed as shown in Figure 4. This was a significant improvement compared to the original. and the flow direction was vertical going into the catalyst (Figure 3). The flue gas flow direction. The final model showed flow distribution statistics with 91% of all analyzed flow velocities within +/–15%. The egg crate steel not only supported the old flow straightener weight but also restrained the pressure forces on this elevation. Courtesy: Fuel Tech  Fabrication of the GSG modules was straightforward. non‐recirculating. 3. The selected arrangement was installation of the GSG device with a perforated plate at the turning vane location. traditional turning vane design where 58% of flow velocities were within +/–15% (17. These modules were completed and shipped to the site prior to installation crew needs during the October outage.5% rms). The GSG replaced the turning vane and egg crate functions by turning the flow 90 degrees and aligning the flow vertically to pass through the catalyst layers. except at the two truss systems. which is equal to 9. shown with velocity vectors. . Straight and even flow. A buckstay arrangement was developed to resist these forces. The flow recirculation was nearly eliminated. was excellent.perforated plate details and turned these drawings over for fabrication.


Additional fly ash accumulation prevention measures were taken by installing ash guards on all horizontal surfaces inside the SCR.  4. Catalyst support beam teepee ash guards were installed on the grating floor to prevent fly ash stalagmites from growing up from the beams. Figure 5 shows much cleaner conditions after . an alternate catalyst installation method needed to be developed. Catalyst was installed in Layers 2-3-4 during the 2012 outage to aid the GSG construction sequence. beam tops were sloped to eliminate ash buildup. A grating floor was installed in catalyst Layer 1. Much Improved An inspection after four months of operation showed excellent results at the SCR division wall. and support beams and loading monorail beam pockets were covered to prevent ash buildup and ash sloughs. The new design is shown from above (top) with the perforated plate. which was a trouble spot originally. and  from below (bottom). Courtesy: KCP&L  One wrinkle was that the egg crate steel above the Layer 1 catalyst had included the catalyst removal cart wheel tracks. Future Layer 1 catalyst installation will be by pallet carts. As a result. and beam bottoms were fabricated into airfoils to avoid recirculation zones. SCR hood truss beam pockets were covered. Catalyst seals were sloped to prevent stalagmite growth. Fewer obstructions.

000 in capital cost savings compared to other options.   5. Courtesy: KCP&L  The GSG and perforated plate modifications resulted in more than $5. reduce removal costs. taken in the same area before the redesign). Clean sweep. With the new airflow measures in place. and reduce complexity of outages.000. This will mean that only one layer will need to be replaced after seven years of operation—a major improvement compared to the eight layers KCP&L had to replace over the previous five years. The next catalyst layer replacement is not budgeted until after 2019. ■ . fly ash accumulation was dramatically  reduced. These improvements are the results of the GSG technology providing improved flow in the SCR hood. reduce ammonia slip and ammonia costs. Reduced fly ash accumulation in La Cygne Unit 1 SCR will reduce catalyst replacement costs.installation of the GSG (compare with the Figure 1 shot. reduce catalyst pressure drop and fan power costs. including truss removal and changing the original inlet flue gas distribution design.

  . AQC. Reid Thomas is senior process engineer and Dale Pfaff is mountain regional sales manager with Fuel Tech Inc. Diane Fischer is services area leader. Energy with Black & Veatch.— Scott Hiedeman is senior AQC engineer with KCP&L.

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