You are on page 1of 10

Design of High Energy Bypass Systems in CombinedCycle Power Plants

The main purpose of the steam turbine bypass system is to virtually duplicate the expansion
and heat transfer normally undertaken in the operating steam turbine. By doing so, the steam
turbine bypass system enables faster plant startups, continued operation of the gas turbine
generators (GTGs) and heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs) following a steam turbine
generator (STG) trip, and simple-cycle operation (if designed with the condenser for this
service) of the GTGs with the STG out of service.
Bypass systems in a combined-cycle power plant
Steam Turbine (ST) bypass systems may be categorized into cascading and parallel (noncascading) type. For a three pressure level steam system, ST bypass is usually cascading type
with the cascade flow going from high pressure (HP) steam to cold re-heat (CRH) steam line,
through the HRSG re-heat section, exiting with hot re-heat (HRH) steam bypass to the
condenser. Low pressure (LP) steam from the HRSG bypasses directly to the condenser.
In the parallel bypass arrangement, HP steam bypasses directly to the condenser through the
HP bypass valve. Steam generated by the IP drum is either admitted to the cold reheat section
(CRH) or bypassed directly to the condenser. IP admission to the CRH is only allowed when the
generator breaker is closed. With this system, there is no flow through the re-heater when the
ST is not in operation. Boiler feed for any configuration typically relies on condensate collected
from the condenser hotwell, with boiler feedwater make up made through the condenser.
Throttling devices are used to reduce the pressure from inlet throttle pressures to the desired
output conditions. The throttling process is isenthalpic since no work is accomplished and little
or no heat transfer occurs across the system boundaries, therefore the outlet enthalpy is
virtually the same as the inlet enthalpy. Without some additional conditioning, the discharging
steam would most likely exceed the thermal limits of the downstream piping and system
equipment. To prevent this from occurring, the bypass system is normally supplied with a water
spray system that injects a controlled quantity of water into the steam flow. The actual volume of
water injected is dependent on the actual operating conditions being exhibited and a simple
heat balance. This water then mixes with the steam, absorbs heat via various heat and mass
transfer processes, evaporates, and cools the steam to an enthalpy level that is more
representative of the actual turbine discharge and acceptable to the plant equipment. This is in
the range of less than 1,200 BTU/lbm, or as otherwise determined by the condenser
manufacturer.
Steam bypass systems are employed in many ways. The two most prevalent operating modes
are between the Main Steam and the Cold Reheat Line, when the plant design incorporates a
reheat steam cycle, and the hot reheat and low-pressure steam bypass(es) to condenser. See
Figure 1 for a basic steam cycle flow diagram, which illustrates the HP, hot reheat, and LP
bypasses for a 2 x 1 or 3 x 1 configuration. The diagram illustrates a triple pressure reheat unit
since that is the most common combined-cycle commercially used today. There is a separate
set of bypass valves per HRSG-in normal practice-to assist with individual CTG/HRSG startup.

Figure 1: Condenser Bypass Diagram. Note: Bypass may be configured in one condenser
admission line or up to three per service, depending on configuration (2x1 vs. 3x1) and control
philosophy.

The HP bypass has fairly simple design and implementation requirements. The pressure drop,
flow requirements, rangeability, and quantity of spray water injected are minimal by valve
engineering standards. The hot reheat bypass to the condenser, on the other hand, is far more
complex due to a number of factors, including:

Large quantity of water injected


Minimal distance for vaporization and thermal equilibrium
High-pressure drop ratios due to condenser vacuum conditions
High rangeability and turndown requirements
Speed of operation
Noise limits
Protection of the condenser (operating permissives in place)

Turbine bypass system design criteria


From a valve sizing and pipe sizing point of view, the criteria needs to be established with the
owner on pressure, temperature, and flow rates during the startup phase through all modes of
operation, as well as percent of bypass (based on contract requirements) at full pressure and
temperature from a steam turbine trip scenario. Turbine bypass modes of operation are
established for all equipment, and the bypass systems consider:

Commissioning start-up and check-out


Normal start-up (cold condition)
Warm / hot start-up
Steam turbine trip
Gas turbine trip
HRSG high drum-level trip
Extended bypass operation

The owner's business plan integrated with the plant heat balances will establish the criteria for
bypass design. In an organized approach, this will be solidified early in the project, prior to detail
design and equipment selection.

Turbine bypass system configuration


As with the design and layout of a combined-cycle power station, there is no one specific
configuration for a turbine bypass system. The number of components, how and where they are
installed, will all be determined based on the mode of operation and the physical constraints
mandated by the plant logistics. In some cases, these factors will have little or no effect on the
performance of the system; however, in other cases they will directly affect the end result and
may create problems. For example, the steam bypass valve is physically placed in the line to
allow for complete zone mixing to reach the pre-determined enthalpy or temperature for the exit
condition. Failure to drain the pipeline upstream or downstream of the valve or to allow for
necessary residence time for complete mixing could result in impingement damage to the
condenser tubes. Meeting the required entrance conditions to the condenser must be
considered in the overall layout of the condenser and piping with the plant's physical
constraints. The two most basic component configurations can be seen in Figures 2 and 3.

Figure 2: Combined Bypass System

Both Figures illustrate the basic components needed in most all bypass systems. They include a
pressure-reducing device, a water injection system including a spray water control valve, and a
backpressure element. The spray control valve and water injection points are diagrammatically
shown and are located much further away from the condenser. The bypass installations are
shown penetrating the condenser wall at the neck in the vicinity of the turbine discharge;
however, the exact location will be determined by the condenser manufacturer based on the
condensers design, spatial and structural limits, and the steam flows' proximity to sensitive heat
transfer surfaces.

Figure 3: Separate Bypass System

Figure 1 illustrates a system layout utilizing a combined pressure-reducing and attemperating


valve. This arrangement has an advantage in that the conditioning of the bypass steam is
accomplished in a minimum of space, and the number of components, as well as associated
installation costs, is reduced. However, flexibility in the layout of the system is constrained by
the installation requirements and limitations of the valve, i.e., weight, orientation, support, etc.
Figure 2 is similar to the combined system except that the pressure-reducing component is
separated from the cooling section. This arrangement provides greater flexibility in terms of
component placement in the plant and may provide significant benefits for inspection and
maintenance. By separating the valve from the cooler section, it is much easier to orient the
valve with the stem in the preferred vertical direction, especially if the design utilizes an angle
configuration, thus reducing side loads, sliding friction, and wear on the valve trim. However, the
arrangement may not be capable of achieving the same degree of turndown that the combined
unit affords. Turndown is defined as the ratio of maximum to minimum controllable steam
flowing through the system. When considering just the valve, the turndown would be equivalent
to the unit's rangeability, or the ratio of maximum to minimum controllable flow coefficients, i.e.,
Cv. However, since we are also adding the attemperating function into this equation, the system
must consider the valve's contribution and assistance in the mass, momentum, and energy
transfer to the injected water particles. In a combined system, the proximity of valve discharge,
and its resultant turbulence and high kinetic energy, to the water injection system enhances the
mixing and heat transfer between the steam and water. While this localized region of high
velocity and turbulence is relatively short lived, its benefit to the process is greatly utilized. If the
separate cooler section, having been placed some distance downstream of the valve, does not
provide a means to produce a similar flow stream conditioning, the same degree of mass,
momentum, and energy will not be accomplished and thus the expected turndown could be
considerably less. The result would be in the form of water fallout and pooling on the bottom of
the outlet pipe. This condition will result in overspray scenarios and quenching, which will
promote low cycle fatigue failures. To reduce this problem, many manufacturers will include a
diffuser plate, or some other means of geometrically enhancing the flow, to produce localized
turbulence and high velocities in the vicinity of the water injection.

Another consideration for the separate configuration is the fact that an intermediate pressure
class pipe section is added to the system. This is the pipe length that communicates the valve
outlet with the cooler inlet. Since no desuperheating has been introduced, the steam
temperature is still relatively high even though the pressure has been greatly reduced. Thus,
some form of high temperature grade piping may still be required and the pipe diameter will be
increased.
Bypass valve and desuperheating section
The bypass valve and desuperheating section comprise at least two-thirds of the major system
components and some comments on design differences/considerations are worthwhile to
maximize longevity.
The bypass valve should be constructed for the intended severe service of a bypass system.
This should include materials of construction, both body and hardened trim parts, control trim
style, pressure reduction staging, seat integrity, accessibility of wearable components, noise
and vibration resistance, and a solid, well-supported structural design, especially if the valve will
be installed with the stem in the horizontal plane. A partial listing of typical main steam to
condenser bypass valve specifications can be found in Table 1.

The desuperheating sections may actually be more difficult to specify than the bypass valve or
pressure reduction device. One of the difficulties with any desuperheating device is the fact that
it is a secondary control device as compared to the bypass valve being a primary control device.
The functional differences of these two devices can be seen in Table 2.
Page 4 of 7

On condenser bypass applications, we are usually dealing with a considerable spray water flow.
On a mass basis, it can exceed 40 percent of the total steam mass flow through the system. In

order to achieve good mixing and distribution, as well as rapid vaporization, the cooler section
has to be designed properly. To this end, most manufacturers utilize multi-point injection
systems. By multi-point, we are describing the distribution of the total water flow through
multiple injection ports or nozzles. Research has shown that the smaller the nozzle, the smaller
the spray particle it can produce. With ever-smaller particle sizes, the total surface area for
interaction and heat transfer with the flowing steam improves, thus increasing the vaporization
rate. It should also be noted that as nozzles become smaller, their susceptibility to clogging or
debris interference increases. Even moderately sized nozzles, when contaminated with pipeline
debris, will lose efficiency in forming the desired spray pattern, particle size, and distribution. To
eliminate this problem, it is always recommended that strainers be used in the spray water
system and located as close as possible to the nozzles themselves. The size of the mesh
should be carefully considered both from a pressure drop and nozzle passage viewpoint. If the
mesh is selected too large, debris that could be damaging to the nozzles may pass. If the mesh
is too small, the added restriction to flow may consume too much pressure drop for the system.
This will restrict the necessary quantity of water from reaching the system and prevent the spray
water from attaining the correct pressure required for atomization by the spray nozzles.
At the present time, there are two types of nozzles used for cooler sections, fixed and variable
geometry. Generally speaking, the variable geometry styles will provide greater rangeability and
more consistency in the spray pattern created. This translates directly to improved turndown
and more efficiency in the process.
The available water pressure is also a factor in terms of performance. Besides reducing the size
of the nozzle, increasing the pressure differential also produces smaller spray particle sizes. In a
similar manner, the water temperature also improves nozzle performance. With increased water
temperature, the surface tension of the water is reduced. This allows greater efficiency in the
formation of droplets with a smaller diameter. Additionally, these smaller and hotter droplets
interact better with the flowing steam. Their latent heat of vaporization is reduced, as is their
resistance to shear by momentum transfer. This results in further droplet size reduction and
more rapid vaporization even though the fluid particles are hotter, an idea that is contrary to
discussions on cooling processes.
Unfortunately, the source of water selected by most users for this process is from the lowpressure condensate system. Water temperatures are normally in the 100 F-150 F range and
pressures in the 150 psi to 250 psi range. Besides being relatively cool and with low pressure
potential, this water source also affects another component in the system, the backpressure
device.
Backpressure device
The backpressure device, also referred to as a sparger, is utilized to create an elevated
pressure downstream of the valve. Without this device, the vacuum conditions of the condenser
would exist in the discharge piping. At these extremely low pressures, the velocity of the steam
exiting the valve would reach sonic or choked conditions almost immediately unless the outlet
pipe size and resultant cross-sectional flow area, were sized to accommodate the large specific
volume of the free expanding steam. As this is normally not economically feasible, nor
logistically possible, the backpressure device is installed to provide a fixed resistance to the flow
entering the condenser. This translates to an intermediate pressure that is variable based on the
valve inlet conditions and the mass flow through the system. Ideally, we would prefer that this
variable intermediate pressure be as large as possible to keep the outlet pipe size to a
minimum. In most condenser bypass applications, the desired outlet flow velocity from the valve
is in the 200 FPS-300 FPS range. As mentioned previously, the available water pressure has a
direct affect on the sizing of the backpressure device. Within the design and layout of the spray

water circuit, we have multiple orifices or restrictions that require pressure differentials to
operate, i.e., strainer, spray water valve, nozzles. If the backpressure is selected too high, we
may not have sufficient pressure energy remaining to get the spray water to the discharge pipe.
Thus, a compromise must be made relative to the distribution of water pressure as compared to
the desired backpressure for the maximum flowing steam conditions. Normally, backpressures
of 50 psi to 100 psi are utilized, but under certain conditions this could rise to as much as 200
psi.
The backpressure device also has an affect on the performance of the desuperheating system.
Unlike most steam applications where steam velocity is proportional to the mass flow of steam,
the flow discharging from the conditioned valve outlet will remain constant at all mass flow as
long as the inlet conditions of pressure and temperature stay the same. This is due to the
thermodynamic relationship between the pressure, temperature, and specific volume. Since we
are dealing with an isenthalpic throttling process, the temperature will remain nearly constant at
a given backpressure. The backpressure device is sized to operate within a given flow range,
and once the upper flow range is set, maximum backpressure is set for the fixed openings in the
backpressure device. Thus, the pressure and specific volume will vary in an inversely
proportionate manner as mass flow changes. Therefore, once an outlet pressure is selected and
the resultant velocity calculated, that velocity will remain the same for all mass flows into the
condenser.
The backpressure device also provides protection for the condenser. Its construction is usually
that of a series of orifices, sized for a particular pressure differential and mass flow, machined in
rows, both axially and radially, along the device circumference. The conditioned steam is then
admitted to the condenser through this pattern of orifices. Based on guidance and direction from
the condenser manufacturer, who in normal practice supplies the backpressure device within his
own scope, the orifices are placed to direct the high-energy jets of steam away from critical and
sensitive heat transfer surfaces, such as tube bundles and structural members. The potential to
steam cut tubes, structural members or induce damaging vibration harmonics exist if the
backpressure device is not designed or coordinated within the condenser.
Piping system
Both the inlet and outlet piping associated with the bypass system are important for proper
function. Two key areas of interest are the excess fluid drain system and valve/piping
preheating. The draining of excess fluid from both the inlet and outlet of the bypass system are
essential for proper operation and maintenance. Depending on the mode of operation, the
bypass may stand idle for long periods of time. Steam trapped upstream of the valve inlet will
begin to cool and eventually condense on the bottom of the pipe. This excess condensate must
be trapped and removed prior to the initiation of bypass system operation. If it is left in the
pipeline, momentum forces of the incoming steam flow could carry the fluid into the valve trim
creating a two-phase flow scenario with resultant damaging erosion and thermal shock
problems. Sloping the pipe away from the inlet valve inlet and installing a drip-leg or water
separator system just upstream of the valve inlet can easily eliminate this situation.
Similarly, the outlet has to be protected from the collection of excess fluids from desuperheating
or condensation. The valve outlet and condenser feed pipe normally has greater quantities of
fluid to be removed than the inlet and the flow energy is greater, thus compounding the
situation. The elimination of excess fluid can be handled in several ways. The first is to make
sure that only the correct amount of spray is injected into the discharge pipe. Thus, if all is
evaporated effectively, there will be no excess fluid fall-out. The second is to make sure that the
backpressure device is equipped with a drain connection near its termination point to
continuously drain excess fluid build-up to the hotwell or some other low-pressure collection

location. This is normally the case in that the backpressure device orifices point radially out and
away from the condenser tube bundle, leaving a natural collection point at the end of the
header.
Preheating is used not only to keep the valve warm and to prevent thermal shock when the
system is commanded to operate, but also to keep the piping warm so that excess fluid
condensation is minimized, reducing the cyclic thermal stresses which can lead to thermal
fatigue. The quantity and method of preheating are dependent on the piping layout of the
system, the design of the valve, and the mode of operation of the system, i.e., long term standby vs. daily start and stop. In many situations, little or nothing is done to assist in preheating
beyond considerations for conduction through the pipe and valve walls. This will certainly have a
long-term affect on the reliability and longevity of the equipment. In other situations, a small
bypass line is installed between the upstream and downstream piping. A small needle valve is
placed in the line and used to control the quantity of steam being bypassed around the main
valve. Temperature readings are monitored until the desired thermal conditions are achieved.
The system can be set up as automatic with temperature controls included or as a manual
system requiring monitoring by the operators. Table 3 indicates recommended temperatures
maintained through pre-heating of the valve dependent on temperature service.

It is also important that the slope of the discharge piping be pitched, negative, with drainage
towards the condenser. This forces the entrapped fluid to move towards the internal condenser
drain and discharges into the hotwell. If the fluid is not adequately removed from the system
prior to bypass valve operation, the resultant momentum transfer could create a water hammerlike situation that could be seriously damaging to both the backpressure device and the
condenser.
In some installations, use of isolation valves upstream of both the attemperator spraywater
control valve and upstream of the bypass valves is utilized. Though an added expense, some
owner/operators perceive that the use of a motor-operated block-valve upstream of the
spraywater valve reduces the chance for a constant leak of spraywater through the bypass. The
use of a motor-operated block valve upstream of the bypass valve is less common, but is
sometimes used to eliminate steam leaks through bypass valves, which can cause significant
MW losses that are "hidden" in many cases. A metal-to-metal seat valve is at best good for
Class IV shutoff, which means a small amount of steam will leak by at all times. By definition,
leakage allowed for this type of valve is 0.01 percent of rated valve Cv capacity at ANSI test
conditions. Under actual service conditions, the leakage is more significant due to the high
system pressure.

SUMMARY
In examining all aspects of the design and layout of a bypass system for a combined cycle
power plant, it is readily apparent how important defining the operating conditions, condenser,
bypass valve, and supporting systems are to the overall performance and life of the condenser.
Definition of commercial objectives on how the combined cycle plant should operate must be
well defined in order for the equipment to support the plant's performance criteria. The
frequency of starts and stops, ramp rate during start-up, duration of start-up, extended bypass
operation at full or partial load for various reasons, and even the decision to run in simple cycle
mode for short periods of time all affect the plant reliability and working life.
The bypass system must be fully integrated into the operating logic of the plant such that its
operation is nearly transparent when put into service. Flow, pressure, and temperature
fluctuations or oscillations cannot be tolerated, as they will affect the input and performance of
other systems. On the other hand, the bypass system has another important function, the
conditioning of the bypass steam for entrance into the condenser. It is imperative that the
conditioning is done correctly so as to prevent thermal or vibration damage to the sensitive heat
transfer surfaces and structures within the condenser itself.
Tightened condenser spaces (modern day combined cycle plants as compared to older fossil
units) which handle high energy dumps, pose greater challenges for dissipation of energy into
the condenser. Established guidelines may not be achievable in this case and the condenser
designer is faced with challenges, which require designs to evolve, to address some of the
issues described in this paper.
Conclusions
To have a properly operating bypass system requires a concerted engineering effort as well as
extensive communication between all parties involved in its design and implementation, i.e.,
plant operations, bypass supplier, condenser supplier. The key to proper and efficient bypass
system operation is the understanding of all possible facets of operation, the control interfaces
with the equipment involved, and the physical match-up of all the mechanical components
required. E-TECH
References
Eaton, R.H.; Blessman, E.R.; Schoonover, K.G., Paper no. PWR2004-52057 "Design
Considerations and Operation of Condenser Bypass Systems in Combined Cycle Power Plants
- Part 2;" Proc. ASME Power 2004; Baltimore, MD; March 30 to April 1, 2004.
Eaton, R.H.; Blessman, E.R.; Schoonover, K.G., Paper no. PWR2004-52056 "Design
Considerations and Operation of Condenser Bypass Systems in Combined Cycle Power Plants
- Part 1;" Proc. ASME Power 2004; Baltimore, MD.; March 30 to April 1, 2004.
ASME TDP-1-1998 - "Recommended Practices for the Prevention of Water Damage to Steam
Turbines Used for Electric Power Generation;" 1998.
EPRI CS2251 - "Recommended Guidelines for the Admission of High Energy Fluids to Steam
Surface Condensers;" February 1982.
HEI - "Standards for Steam Surface Condensers;" Heat Exchange Institute, 9th edition,
Cleveland, OH, USA, 1995.
General Electric Co. GEK 107538, "Basic Combined Cycle Start-up Procedure from a Turbine
Controls Point of View;" November 2000.

Yao, G.F., Ghiaasiann, S.M., Abdel-Khalik, S.I., and Schoonover, K.G., "Computational
Modeling of Spray Cooling in Vapor Conditioning Equipment;" Proc. 2nd Int. Symp. on
Computational Technologies for Fluid/ Thermal/ Chemical/ Systems with Industrial Applications,
Vol. 2, pp.107-116, Boston, MA., USA, 1999.
Yao, G.F., Abdel-Khalik, S.I., and Schoonover, K.G., "Progress Towards Development of a
Robust CFD Code for Simulation of Spray Cooling in Steam Conditioning Devices;" Proc. 3rd
Int. Symposium on Computational Technologies for Fluid/ Thermal/ Chemical/ Systems with
Industrial Applications, Atlanta, GA., USA, 2001.
Schoonover, K.G., "An Experimental and Numerical Investigation of Evaporating Water Sprays
Injected into Flowing Superheated Steam;" Masters Thesis, Georgia Institute of Technology,
Atlanta, GA., USA, 2001.</P< div>