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Boiler Feed Pump Turbine Subsynchronous Vibration Case Study

Jeffrey Simpson, P.E. LG&E and KU Energy LLC ABSTRACT This paper presents the case study of a boiler feed pump turbine subsynchronous vibration problem that resulted in numerous shutdowns, production limits and an outage of a large steam turbine generating unit. Diagnosing the problem proved to be challenging due to assumptions established from the machine history and other informational factors. The machine had been retrofitted with an advanced vibration monitoring and diagnostics system that provided detailed vibration data capture prior, during and after events. This paper describes the events, diagnostics tools, root cause process and pitfalls surrounding this unusual subsynchronous vibration problem. INTRODUCTION A single GE Type DRV631 19,000 HP turbine driven boiler feed pump (TDBFP), Figure 1, pumps water to the boiler to produce 2400 PSIG, 1005 F steam that drives a GE Type G2 525 MW steam turbine generating (T/G) unit commissioned for service in 1982. Loss of the TDBFP will result limiting the generating limit to 160 MW (365 MW loss) due to having operate with a motor driven start up pump. Both the TDBFP and T/G are instrumented with GE Bently 3500 vibration protection circuitry and GE Bently System 1 continuous data collection/diagnostics software. Each bearing is equipped with X and Y orthogonal proximity probes and bearing metal temperature thermocouples. On November 13, 2012 while operating at 4,768 RPM (79.5 Hz), the TDBFP turbine protection circuitry tripped the machine due to high inboard bearing vibration, followed by the main generating unit tripping from loss of feedwater. Before resolving the problem nine (9) days later, the TDBFP turbine had tripped a total of five (5) times on high inboard bearing vibration, was unavailable and resulted in nearly 61,000 MWH of lost generation. Logical root cause analysis efforts can sometimes lead down the wrong path requiring reevaluation and extra time to solve a problem. MACHINE HISTORY In 1996 this TDBFP turbine experienced a 1/2X operating speed vibration problem which caused a series of random trips and outages. At that time the unit did not have a continuous data collection and diagnostics system to analyze the vibration, only overall amplitude was available. Delaware Analysis Services (then CJ Analytical) was contracted to instrument, analyze and diagnose the cause of vibration trips. Upon discovering that the vibration was at 1/2X operating speed, Delaware recognized it to be a known problem with this type of TDBFP turbine inboard bearing caused by a subsynchronous resonance as a result of the rotor operating at 2X first critical and triggering the rotor first critical to excite the bearing pedestal natural frequency that happens to be at that same frequency1. The solution was a redesign of the elliptical sleeve bearing to a pressure dam type sleeve bearing by simply re-pouring and machining a recess in the upper half of the bearing to provide downward oil force on the journal, Page 1 of 11

Figure 2. This increased the first critical above the pedestal natural frequency and eliminated the subsynchronous high vibration occurrences.

Figure #1 GE Type DRV631 19,000 HP Turbine Driven Boiler Feed Pump The TDBFP turbine was last overhauled in 2006 where the pressure dam bearing was re-installed after being reconditioned to proper clearances. The 1/2X vibration phenomenon was also experienced on two other company TDBFP turbines, also corrected with pressure dam bearings. Any change to stiffness or bearing load such as might be caused by bearing profile, wiped bearing, looseness, clearance/fit, cracked pedestal, alignment, steam loading, etc. can lower the first critical frequency back down to where interaction with the pedestal is possible. Both the TDBFP and T/G are retrofitted with GE Bently 3500 vibration protection circuitry and GE Bently System 1 continuous data collection/diagnostics software. DISCUSSION Analysis of the November 2012 TDBFP turbine vibration trip by LG&E KU Generation Engineering using the Bently System 1 discovered a sub-synchronous vibration of 7.67 mils P-P at near 1/2X of 4,768 RPM operating speed that had exceeded the trip limit of 5 mils, Figure 3. A trend plot of the inboard bearing X and Y proximity probes 1X operating speed and overall (direct) vibration demonstrated the 1/2X vibration went from normal to trip level in just a few seconds on both X and Y probes, lessening the Page 2 of 11

prospect of a probe or instrument related issue, Figure 4. A different view of the event in Figure 5 shows a waterfall plot of the 1/2X vibration disappearing within a couple seconds of the machine tripping. At the time of the trip the unit and pump were at approximately 90% load and slowly increasing to meet demand. There was no sign of oil whirl/whip as the orbit showed no signs of distress as can be seen by the large round subsynchronous orbit, Figure 6. Bearing lube oil supply temperature was within acceptable limits at 111F and no significant change in bearing metal temperature was discovered. The pump bearing vibration also increased but at much lower amplitude levels. A review of the control system data showed the BFP turbine bearing overall vibration amplitude and variability had step increased in June 2012, about one week after coming back on from a maintenance outage and five months before the November 1/2X trip, Figure 7.

Figure #2 Pressure Dam Sleeve Bearing

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Figure #3 BFPT Inboard Bearing 1/2X Vibration

Figure #4 100 Sec Trend of Inboard Direct and 1X Vibration, 1st Trip Page 4 of 11

Figure #5 Inboard Bearing Waterfall Plot, 1st Trip

Figure #6 Inboard Unfiltered Orbit, 1st Trip

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9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 3/8/2012 1:01:48 AM BFPT BRG 2X VIBRATION 151.06 days 8/6/2012 2:30:51 AM

MillCreek.U4.4F3359.PV MillCreek.U4.4F3360.PV 2.1633 mils MillCreek.U4.4F3361.PV



Figure #7 Trend of Inboard Overall Vibration, March Aug 2012 The TDBFP and main T/G unit were returned to service several hours after the first trip to meet load demand and determine if the vibration trip was a one-off event. Approximately 23 hours later the question was answered by a second trip of the BFP turbine and main T/G unit, again due to BFP turbine inboard bearing 1/2X high vibration at nearly the same operating speed. Based on the 1/2X vibration history of this machine, a problem with the inboard pressure dam bearing was suspected. Although the proximity probe gap voltages, Figure 8, did not indicate a wiped bearing an inspection was performed to check dimensions and fits, all of which were found acceptable. As a precaution the bearing was refurbished due to light scoring. During the period of the TDBFP outage the main generating unit was operated at reduced load using a motor driven start-up pump.

Figure #8 Trend of Inboard Bearing Gap Voltages Prior to 1/2X Trip Page 6 of 11

Shaft alignment of the grease lubricated double engagement gear spacer coupling, Figure 9, was checked using a LUDECA laser alignment system. The TDBFP was returned to service with a refurbished inboard pressure dam bearing. A live vibration spectrum was displayed in System 1 as the pump speed was increased with main unit load. After only three hours of service the 1/2X vibration appeared at an operating speed of 4,527 RPM so the pump was shut down before tripping. The TDBFP was rolled up one more time to verify if the problem repeated at the same speed. This time the 1/2X vibration began at a lower speed of 4,223 RPM indicating the speed at which the 1/2X occurred was decreasing, Figure 10. This was different than the problem experienced in 1996 where the subsynchronous vibration repeated at relatively the same rotor operating speed.

Figure #9 Double Engagement Gear Spacer Coupling Page 7 of 11

Figure #10 1/2X Occurring at Lower Speeds for Subsequent Events Refurbishing the bearing made no difference and the problem was potentially worsening. The bearing appeared to be unloaded as the orbit in Figure 6 is circular. Referencing back to the control system data in Figure 7, signs of a problem conceivably began five months earlier, about a week after the June 2012 maintenance outage. Engineering began to evaluate what conditions could result in unloading a bearing and if there was work performed during the outage that could be related to the problem. Steam influences can lift turbine rotors but the inboard bearing is at the opposite end of the steam nozzle and the machine was not known to have low pressure nozzle issues. Steam supply control valve linkages were visually in good condition. A review of the June outage work revealed that the TDBFP turbine steam exhaust expansion joint located directly below the inboard bearing end was replaced. The rubber joint visually appeared to be stretched very tight so there was concern the new joint could be pulling down on the frame, lowering the inboard bearing support thus unloading the bearing. A review of the shaft alignment job performed after the refurbished bearing showed that the alignment data did not repeat and several vertical moves were made. Due to the lack of repeatable data the vertical position was restored to as-found by reinstalling the original shims. Laser alignment systems allow for alignment of flexible couplings without uncoupling the machine provided there is access to mount the laser brackets on the coupling hubs at each end. An observation was made that the turbine end coupling hub was not accessible due to the tight spacing between coupling gear housing and the turbine frame, Figure 9. During alignment the turbine end laser bracket was incorrectly mounted on the coupling gear housing Page 8 of 11

instead of the hub resulting in erroneous and inconsistent alignment data. The coupling spacer would need to be removed to properly check alignment. During removal of the coupling spacer an unexpected finding was made. A small amount of water drained out from the coupling as the spacer was removed and the gear teeth were found to have no grease, corroded and heavily contaminated with debris, Figure 11. This could be the source of the 1/2X vibration if the coupling were locking up causing a change to the rotor dynamics and unloading the bearing. It was obvious the coupling had to be cleaned and re-greased but this unearthed yet another problem of not sufficient clearance to slide back the coupling covers to access the gear teeth, Figure 12. The only way to gain access to the gear teeth and the small 5/32 space on the backside of the teeth would be to provide enough clearance to slide the coupling covers out of the way which would require removing the entire turbine rotor and partial disassembly of the pump. There was no way that proper routine lubrication PMs had ever been performed or ever could be performed on the coupling other than during machine overhauls. The coupling was painstakingly cleaned out using wire and other small implements to fish out debris, followed by re-greasing through the ends of the gear teeth.

Figure 11 Turbine End Coupling Half As-Found

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The TDBFP was returned to service seven days after the first incident. Watching the live data as the speed increased there was no sign of the 1/2X until it suddenly appeared again at 5,015 RPM, but 15% higher than last observed and 5% higher than the first trip which was an explainable improvement because as load increases the friction between the coupling gear teeth also increases. The machine was taken out of service. This time a more aggressive effort was made to clean out the coupling, again using wire and other small implements to meticulously fish out debris but also repeatedly flushing a solvent through the gear teeth in hopes of removing as much debris as possible. Additionally the grease type previously used was found not to be for couplings, so Conoco-Phillips Coupling Grease was applied during the second attempt by forcing grease through the teeth. Not being able to slide the coupling housing back on the hub and the tight clearances between the hub and housing gear teeth made it difficult, if not impossible to ensure all friction surface areas were properly greased.

Figure #12 No Access to the Gear Teeth The TDBFP was again put into service for the fifth and final time since the first vibration trip nine days prior. Full load was obtained without any signs of the 1/2X running speed vibration. Gear coupling manufactures recommend biannual greasing and periodic cleaning to ensure reliable coupling performance. Suspecting the problem would likely return from not being able to perform proper routine

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maintenance, a Goodrich contoured diaphragm non-lubricated coupling will be installed as a permanent solution at the next planned outage opportunity, Figure 13.

Figure #13 Goodrich Diaphragm Coupling CONCLUSIONS: A misapplied coupling design in service since 1982 resulted in a locked up gear coupling when under load due to lack of lubrication caused by the inability to perform proper routine cleaning and greasing. This resulted in unloading the bearing causing a fluid induced rotor instability manifested at 1/2X running speed vibration. Having an online vibration diagnostics system was a valuable asset for automatic capture of the data and post event analysis. To permanently mitigate the root cause, a nonlubricated diaphragm coupling will be installed. The past history of the inboard bearing subsynchronous resonance initially led engineering to assume a repeat of a previous problem. In retrospect, an inspection of the coupling in conjunction with the bearing refurbishment would have been prudent. REFERENCES: Eshleman, Ron; Guy, Kevin; Jackson, Charles. "Auxiliary Turbine Subsynchronous Vibration", Vibration Institute article, 1985. 1 Bently, Donald. Fundamentals of Rotating Machinery Diagnostics, 2002.

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