You are on page 1of 4

How to eliminate standby corrosion in HRSGs (and steam turbines)

Posted on September 9, 2013 by Team CCJ

You can just hear someone on the plant staff saying to an HRSG inspector regarding unexpected waterside corrosion damage, But we didnt do anything to cause this condition. Precisely the point: It was important to do something. That thought prompted Thermal Chemistry Ltds David Addison to give the editors a short course on shutdown and layup practices designed to assure a flexible return to service for combined-cycle plants. He asked, What is HRSG standby corrosion? Not getting a response (what do editors know, anyway), Addison answered his own question: Standby corrosion is the unwanted formation of non-protective iron oxides from Rankine Cycle materialsbluntly, rust. It occurs under stagnant, low-pH, and oxygen-saturated water and when high-humidity (more than 30% RH) conditions exist. The condition is often ignored. Plants in reserve, two-shifting, and frequent start/stop service are most prone to standby corrosion damage (Fig 1). Addison said there are several risks associated with standby corrosion, including these: Decreases plant material thicknesses over time, creating an opportunity for failure and/or leakage. Causes pitting (galvanic corrosion), a condition conducive to leaks and stress corrosion cracking and corrosion fatigue failures. Transport of corrosion products to areas of high heat fluxsuch as HP evaporatorswhere they increase the risk of under-deposit corrosion. Blockage of drum-level transmitter and sample lines with possible loss of unit control and the risk of unit trips (Fig 2). When you place an HRSG in wet storage, Addison continued, it is critical to protect the in-service generated protective oxidesthat is, hematite and magnetite. This requires maintaining the operating pH and redox conditions in storage. Specifically, keep: (1) pH at about 9.8 by dosing prior to shutdown and during drum-level top-offs, and (2) dissolved oxygen in boiler water at 5 to 10 ppb by capping the drum with nitrogen prior to pressure collapse. Recall that redox, or oxidation reduction potential (ORP), measures the nature and strength of an aqueous environment in millivolts (positive when oxidizing, negative when reducing).

Also important is to circulate boiler water periodically during shutdown (every few days) to avoid a stagnant (no flow) condition conducive to pitting attack. Very few HRSGs are designed with this capability but a retrofit may be beneficial if your shutdowns can extend more than a couple of weeks. Periodic topping-off of drums likely will be required during wet storage to accommodate leakage and water shrinkage as the boiler cools. Important to assure that the chemistry of water added matches the boilers water inventory in terms of pH (by dosing with ammonia or amine) and redox potential (by controlling the level of dissolved oxygen). If your station has multiple units, top off from an operating unit with matched water chemistry. If not, best practice suggests having a standby vacuum deaerator or membrane contactor to match the oxygen content of makeup to that in HRSG water.

2. Heavy oxide deposits can block drum-level transmitter ports, causing incorrect readings and possibly unit trips 1. Standby corrosion is clearly in evidence on this two-year-old HRSG

3. Dehumidification system typical of the type used to maintain the HRSG water steam side at less than 30% relative humidity 4. Material oxidation on the hot gas side of the HRSG can be minimized by use of a dehumidification system

Successful dry storage requires the removal of all moisture to achieve a relative humidity of less than 30%. This means blowing down the HRSG while metal surfaces are hot to assure residual moisture is evaporated from metal surfaces. The procedure can be challenging in the preheater and LP sections where metal temperature is relatively low. Immediately after the blowdown step has been completed, circulate dry air throughout the unit and maintain continuous flow throughout the layup period (Fig 3). Nitrogen is an alternative to dry air, but its use inhibits maintenance access. Addison suggests that the steam turbine be protected during layups in a like manner. Storage pros, cons. The chemist then reviewed the pros and cons of both wet and dry storage. The big benefit of wet storage, he said, is that its easy and effective for short outages and assures the plants fast return to service. However, its not free. Here are some of the expenses associated with wet storage: Installation of a nitrogen capping system and the cost of the inert gas. Note that if the nitrogen cap is lost, boiler water will quickly become oxygen-saturated. Installation of a pump skid to allow periodic circulation of boiler water during extended outages.

Deaerated water is required for drum top-offs during the storage period. Low-humidity dry storage is highly effective for protecting against corrosion of both the HRSG (steam/water circuitry and gas side, Fig 4) and steam turbine. A big plus is that dry storage doesnt inhibit offline maintenance and plant access. However, the cost of a dehumidification system is significant and continuous monitoring is necessary to ensure moisture levels throughout the protected areas are not conducive to corrosion. Caution: If dehumidification is done incorrectly, standby corrosion rates can be high. What not to do when laying up an HRSG wet: Dont use a reducing agent/oxygen scavenger for storage solutions, or any other treatment chemicals not normally employed during plant operation. Dont partially drain the HRSG and later reapply a nitrogen cap, or refill under air. Dry storage should not be attempted after the HRSG cools and the water is drained. It simply doesnt work, Addison warned. Another caution: Dont circulate air with a relative humidity above 30%. The chemist said owner/operators should have clearly defined guidelines and procedures in place no matter what the layup pathwet or dry. He suggested making risk assessments to guide decision-making, and need to have the chemistry, operations, and engineering departments involved in the development of guidelines and procedures to maximize the probability of success. Operator training is an essential, he added. When returning to service from storage, wet or dry, Addison recommends heavy HRSG blowdown to establish stable chemistry conditions as soon as possible. Where wet storage has been employed, remember to (1) isolate the nitrogen system, (2) set drum levels in the startup position, and (3) fire the gas turbine as soon as possible. After a dry layup, be sure to (1) line up auxiliary systems, (2) isolate the dehumidification system, (3) purge the HRSG with nitrogen to displace air, (4) fill the boiler with pH-corrected deoxygenated water to the correct drum levels for startup, and (5) fire the gas turbine as soon as possible. If solid-alkali dosing of drums is a normal procedure, include that in Step 4.