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Indian Power Stations - IPS 2015, NTPC Ltd

Use of Cold Reheat Steam as Soot blowing medium

for Heat Rate improvement

M. Muthuraman, R S Mukhopadhyay, P D Hirani

NTPC Energy Technology Research Alliance (NETRA), E-3, Ecotech II, Udhyog Vihar,
Greater Noida, PIN 201306 Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, India
Contact:, Mobile: 9650997117


Presently, steam from Divisional panel is used for soot blowing purpose in existing 500 MW units,
which involves higher pressure reduction from 180 bar to 30 bar, resulting in high amount of throttling
loss. In addition, high pressure reduction at the soot blower station, leads to frequent wear & tear of
the pressure control valve, isolating valves, steam leakages at flanges & safety valve, loss of steam
and unsafe operating condition, which demands regular maintenance & higher O&M cost.

Further, if a steam from other source which can meet the soot blowing requirement at a lower
pressure, can significantly reduce the throttling loss and hence improve the heat rate of the unit and
reduce the associated O&M cost. A detailed study has been carried out at NETRA to assess the
acceptability & feasibility of using CRH steam for soot blowing. Data regarding nature of soot blower
operating practices, steam consumption for soot blowing etc were collected from various units in
NTPC Ltd for an in-depth analysis. The study found that, use of CRH steam for soot blowing
improves the heat rate of a 500 MW unit by around 0.9 kcal / kWh in NTPC units, compared to steam
from Divisional Panel.

The improvement in the heat rate is proportional to the amount of steam consumed for soot blowing,
which varies from plant to plant, as many of the plants are using high ash coal, which need frequent
soot blowing. The study also provides useful information about possibility of further improvement in
heat rate, when unit runs at lesser load. This system of using CRH steam for soot blowing can serve
as an ideal initiative under Perform Achieve & Trade (PAT) scheme in addition to reduction in

Keywords: Soot blowing, CRH steam, Divisional Panel steam, Heat rate improvement


Removal of soot / ash deposited on the heat transfer surface by means of steam is called soot
blowing, to ensure proper heat transfer. This is done by boiler auxiliary equipment called soot
blowers. Due to high amount of ash content in domestic coal, it becomes a regular practice to operate
soot blowers to remove ash deposits. Many plants among NTPC Ltd prepare their own soot blowing
schedule based on the actual requirement considering the nature of coal, amount of SH spray, APH
inlet temperature and so on. Soot blowing is important not only to ensure proper heat transfer, but
also to prevent section of boiler from becoming severely blocked. Blocked sections can restrict gas
flow, cause tube erosion due to high local gas velocities and result in output limitations.

Various types of soot blowers used in Boiler are as follows

1. Wall blowers
2. Long retractable soot blowers
3. Half retractable soot blowers
4. Air Pre heater soot blowers.

Wall blowers are used for furnace wall cleaning in the first pass of the boiler near coal burner locations
as shown in the Figure 1. Long retractable soot blowers are used to clean super heater, reheated
sections of the boiler, while half retractable soot blowers are used in economizer sections. In addition
Air preheater needs to be cleaned by air pre heater soot blowers to remove ash accumulation in the
air preheater baskets.

Dr. M. Muthuraman, Dy.General Manager, NTPC Ltd

Indian Power Stations - IPS 2015, NTPC Ltd

Figure 1. Types of Soot blowers and their location in Boiler


2.1 Present system
In the present system, steam for soot blowing is taken from divisional panel outlet (Divisional panel
outlet) at 185 bar pressure and at 470 Degree C. Soot blowing station needs to be maintained at 30
bar and hence this high pressure divisional panel steam is reduced by a pressure control valve. It is
being carried out in a pressure control station at the RHS side of the boiler at 74 m elevation, called
Soot Blower steam pressure control station.

A main line of 100 % capacity line (20 TPH of steam flow) is provided with a pneumatic pressure
control valve. Parallel to it a 100 % capacity motorized inching type control valve is provided as a
standby. In addition 40 % capacity line with pneumatic pressure control valve is also provided.

The soot blowing pressure control station is also equipped with the following instruments / mountings
1. Pressure indicator
2. Pressure transmitter
3. Temperature element
4. Temperature transmitter
5. Flow transmitter in the main line
6. Flow transmitter (WB line Front /Left side and Rear/Right side, LRSB line RHS & LHS side)
7. Pressure Safety valve, etc.,


3.1 During Unit start up time:
During light up of a unit, no steam will be available from its own source but air preheater soot blower
are required to be operated, in view of LDO / HFO oil firing, to avoid oil deposition and fire in air
preheaters. For this purpose, steam from station auxiliary PRDS is being used or auxiliary boiler is
used for the same at 16 bar pressure. Other types of soot blowers like wall blowers & LRSB are not
operated during light up time, hence steam from station APRDS is used to operate air preheater soot

3.2 Soot blower operation during part load ( < 350 MW)
When the unit load is less than 350 MW, only air preheater soot blower are required to be operated
and other blowers like WB and LRSB are not generally operated, considering the flame stability in the
furnace. The steam for airpreheater soot blower is taken from divisional panel outlet.

Dr. M. Muthuraman, Dy.General Manager, NTPC Ltd

Indian Power Stations - IPS 2015, NTPC Ltd

3.3 Normal operation of Soot blowers

During high load operation (more than 350 MW), all kind of soot blowers are operated i.e. WB, LRSB
and air preheaters. The required steam for this purpose is taken from divisional panel outlet i.e. high
pressure steam at 185 bar is used after pressure reduction at soot blower pressure reducing station to
30 bar pressure.

3.4 Operation frequency

Soot blowers are generally operated when ash accumulation inside the furnace / airprehater is more
or it hamper the heat transfer from flue gas to water / steam. Basically it is not done in continuous
mode. Hence the soot blowing station is charged whenever the soot blowing needs to be done,
otherwise the valves are kept in closed condition. Based on the experience and operational history,
each unit in NTPC plant, has developed their own Soot blower operation frequency pattern and
followed religiously.

The soot blower operation varies based on the following and changes from unit to unit & station to
1. Quality of coal
2. As per OEM recommandation (boiler type etc.,)
3. As per LMI (local operation history)
4. Quantity of SH / RH spray flow
5. Air pre heater performance (Exit flue gas temperature / DP)

3.5 Soot blowing procedure

3.5.1 Soot blowing line charging with steam
During starting of soot blowing station, the motorized isolation valve in the divisional pane line is
opened and steam at 185 bar pressure is passed through the pressure control valve to reduce the
pressure to 30 bar and allowed to pass through the soot blowing distribution line, which are relatively
cold. Hence gradual admission of steam in the line is advisable to avoid thermal shock and
hammering. Initially some quantity of steam is condensed into water, when it heats / warm up the
distribution line. In order to avoid the condensed steam being blown into the furnace, temperature
controlled drain valves are used, which allows the condensate to pass through the drain valve and
maintain the steam temperature more than 250 Degree C. Further in order to avoid accumulation of
condensate the drain line, a small orifice is employed parallel to the automatic drain valve, which are
always open and allow small amount of condensate to be removed in continuous mode and sent to
the intermediate blow down tank.

The spring loaded puppet valves of soot blowers are set at 12 bar pressure. Hence, the soot blowers
are set to operate and required a steam at 12 bar pressure only. Furthermore, whatever steam flows
into the soot blowers is going waste after cleaning of boiler tubes.

3.5.2 Sequence of soot blower operation

All the soot blowers are operated in a predetermined sequence, considering the flue gas flow
direction. WB is started first to clean the first pass zone followed by LRSB in SH / RH and in
Economizer zones. The Airpreheater soot blower is then operated to complete the soot blower
operation. The WB & LRSB soot blowers are operated in groups (in pairs). Wall blower are arranged
in all four side of the furnace i.e. Furnace Front, Rear, Right & Left side. Two diagonally opposite wall
blowers are operated at a time.

LRSB are arranged only tow sides of the furnace i.e. Furnace Right & Left side. Hence two opposite
blowers are operated at a time. But in actual, due to long lance tube and frequent problem with the
chain of the blower, possibility of LRSB got stuck up inside the furnace is higher. Hence only one
LRSB is being operated at a time, instead of two, considering the availability of operation &
maintenance man power at local. Further, the LRSB are operated at manual one by one, to avoid
parameter variation beyond the accepted value steam temperature / metal temperature
temperature excursion.

Table 1 provides the detailed operational procedure employed during soot blowing operation.

Dr. M. Muthuraman, Dy.General Manager, NTPC Ltd

Indian Power Stations - IPS 2015, NTPC Ltd

Table 1. Different Activity in the process of soot blowing

1 Check Unit load (> 350 MW)
2 Steam line charging
3 Waiting for the drain temperature (> 250 Degree) & Send operator to the local / near soot
4 Start Soot blowing operation
Auto for WB (in groups i.e. two at a time)
LRSB (Manually one by one / in pairs)
APH Soot blower
5 Soot blower in service
6 If any blower stuck inside, take out electrically / manually
7 Isolate the steam line
8 Close the manual isolation valve. ( if Motorized valve passing problem)

In some plants the operation of soot blowing is coordinated with bottom ashing operation.

But this kind of high pressure reduction (180 bar to 30 bar) leads to high throttling loss in the system.
When steam is available at low pressure from the boiler i.e. in RH section, it is lucrative to use low
pressure steam instead of high pressure steam for soot blowing, to save throttling loss in the system.
Further, the amount of throttling loss is higher for the units, which require frequent soot blowing like
Talcher and Farakka units.

Hence it is proposed to use a low pressure steam (CRH) to meet the requirement of soot blowing.
Since the steam in CRH has already done a part of useful work in the HP turbine, this wastage of
enthalpy is lesser.


As steam at soot blower control station is required to be maintained at 30 bar, is it better to use a
steam which is near to this pressure level, so as to reduce the throttling losses. It is found that CRH
line which goes to the boiler after HP turbine is located near to the soot blower pressure control
station and has a pressure level between 31 to 43 bar pressures in the load range between 350 to
500 MW.

Steam from CRH is available at 43 bar at 350 Degree C and Soot blowing station needs to be
maintained at 30 bar pressure, hence CRH steam can be utilized instead of divisional panel, with less
throttling loss. The proposed steam scheme is shown in the Figure 2. It requires a tap off from the
CRH lines (RHS & LHS) that is located above the pent house at a distance of around 60 meters with
necessary accessories as follows

1. Manual isolating valve

2. Motorized isolation valve
3. Pressure control valve
4. NRV
5. Necessary piping & drain lines.

The proposed system does not need any change in the present set up of the soot blower, soot
blowing distribution line, safety valve etc., All the mountings in the existing soot blower line like safety
valve, flow transmitter, distributions line are remain untouched and only the soot blower pressure
reducing station needs to be modified. Hence the tapped steam from CRH line can be fed into the
existing soot blowing line after the existing pressure reducing station as shown in figure 2.

As shown in Figure 2, the line shown in green color (from CRH lines), needs to be incorporated. This
proposed line is required to be joined with the existing soot blowing line after an NRV. Erection of this
proposed line with valves, electrical wiring, instrumentation calibration and insulation of the entire line

Dr. M. Muthuraman, Dy.General Manager, NTPC Ltd

Indian Power Stations - IPS 2015, NTPC Ltd

can be completed at any time, even during unit operation. But the tap off from CRH lines can be
suitably scheduled with unit overhauling activity.

Present system

Proposed system

Figure 2. Proposed Soot blowing steam Tap off from CRH line

4.1 Quality of steam

The Table 2 compares the quality of steam between divisional panel and CRH

Table 2. Quality of Steam

Pressure Temperature Saturation temperature Degree of super

Source of steam
[bar] [Deg C] [Deg C] heat
Divisional Panel 185 470 360 110
CRH 45 350 259 91

Both the steam from divisional panel and CRH has a degree of superheat of approx 100 Degree C,
which is sufficient to maintain the quality of steam to avoid condensation. The H P diagram in
Figure 3 shows the quality of steam in both these conditions. It can be seen that, both these steam
conditions (divisional panel and CRH) leads to a superheated steam condition, when throttled and far
away from the saturated steam dome. Hence possibility of steam condensation does not arise.

The Figure 2 shows the detailed schematic arrangement of CRH steam tapping for soot blowing
purpose, with dedicated pressure reducing valve. It can be implemented in two ways.

1. Dedicated Pressure control valve

2. Use of presently available pressure control valve

Dr. M. Muthuraman, Dy.General Manager, NTPC Ltd

Indian Power Stations - IPS 2015, NTPC Ltd

Figure 3. H-P diagram for steam expansion

4.2 Scheme with use of presently available pressure control valve

This scheme utilizes the use of existing pressure control valve and hence the cost of implementation
is less. Only a manual, motorized isolating valve with NRV is required to be installed in the CRH line
and to be fed before the existing pressure control valve. But the existing valve is designed for a CV of
30, which may not provide a steam flow of 20 TPH, instead a maximum flow of 13 TPH is possible.

It is to be noted that, a steam flow of maximum of 09 TPH is only needed considering one soot blower
at a time. This is done due to availability of man power at local; those are present there to address
any eventuality of soot blower stuck up inside the furnace, and ready with tools and tackles to remove
the soot blower manually. Hence this scheme can also get its importance due to its simplicity.

4.3 Dedicated pressure control valve

Scheme with dedicated control valve is shown in the Figure 2. Hence a suitable control valve with
high value of CV can be employed here for a designed flow of 20 TPH, without any interruption in the
existing set up.
The following items needed to be procured for this scheme

1. Pressure control valve

2. Drain line
3. Manual isolating valve in the drain
4. NRV

It is proposed to install one number of 100 % capacity pressure reducing station for the study purpose
at this stage, if required standby line with 100 % capacity using motorized inching type pressure
reducing station can also be provided at later stages.

4.4 Logic for selection of Divisional Panel steam or CRH steam for soot blowing

Source of steam Source of steam
Event SB requirement from existing
Existing Proposed
During start up time Only APH SB APRDS steam APRDS steam No
During low load Steam from Steam from
Only APH SB No
period (< 350 MW) Divisional Panel Divisional Panel
During higher load All blowers (WB, Steam from
From CRH Yes
(> 350 MW) LRSB & APH) Divisional Panel

Dr. M. Muthuraman, Dy.General Manager, NTPC Ltd

Indian Power Stations - IPS 2015, NTPC Ltd

Hence a suitable logic needs to be incorporated in the DCS system of boiler package associated to
Soot blower control logics as follows

Case 1: During start up time, APH soot blowing can be supplied with steam from APRDS.
Case 2: During low load period (< 350 MW), steam from divisional panel can be used for APH
soot blowing.
Case 3: During higher load (> 350 MW), steam from CRH can be used for WB, LRSB and
APH soot blowing.

4.5 Proposed scheme is already used in Rihand Stage 1 units

This kind of scheme is already in place in Rihand Stage 1 units and operating successfully. In Rihand
Stage-1 Units, the steam supply for soot blowing has been taken from two sources. The normal
source is CRH line and another source is from divisional panel outlet header which is envisaged for
use during low load conditions when CRH pressure is insufficient for soot blowing purpose. However,
it is normal practice not to operate soot blowers at low loads for reasons of low MS temperature and
flame stability. Therefore, the divisional panel outlet source of soot blowing is very rarely used.


1. Improvement in heat rate (less fuel consumption, emission etc.,) as such CRH steam has
already done a part of useful work in the HP turbine.
2. Lower rating of piping and valves at the soot blower station. Wear of the control valves is
lesser as it reduces the system pressure from 40 - 45 bar to 30 bar as compared to large
reduction of pressure from 180 bar to 30 bar.
3. Issue of Safety valve pop up with high pressure divisional panel steam, when pressure
control valve mal-functioning is less; in case of CRH steam.
4. Reduction the soot blowing package cost - Costlier mountings like pressure control valve
and safety valve can be eliminated in the soot blowing system when steam is taken from
CRH, provided entire soot blowing line is designed for CRH pressure.


A commercial software tool (called "THERMOFLOW") for simulation of HBD was used to analyse the
heat rate calculations and results. Soot blowing line is generally designed for a steam flow rate of 20
T/hr of steam, which represents an ideal case, as such soot blowing is not done continuously,
thorough out the day. In order to get the real picture on actual heat rate saving for a unit, the actual
steam flow for soot blowing purpose needs to be obtained. It is also observed that "higher the amount
of soot blower steam consumption, the higher the heat rate savings"

6.1 Steam consumption for soot blowing

Based on the inputs from various units, it is observed that the nature of soot blowing varies from unit
to unit, and a customized procedure have been developed for a particular station considering the
quality of coal, amount of ash etc. Hence, the actual heat rate improvement may vary based on
individual unit's actual steam flow consumption for soot blowing purpose.

Data on actual soot blowing practice have been collected from different units across NTPC Ltd, and
the amount of steam for different type of soot blower was obtained using BHEL's soot blower steam
consumption data sheet. Based on the actual soot blowing practice, it is found that an average of
around 3.0 Ton / hour of steam is being consumed in a single 500 MW unit for soot blowing purpose.
If the same amount of steam is tapped off from CRH instead of divisional panel, 0.9 kcal/kWh of heat
rate can be improved, considering the boiler efficiency of 85 %. Since the steam in CRH has already
done a part of useful work in the HP turbine, which improves the heat rate.

Dr. M. Muthuraman, Dy.General Manager, NTPC Ltd

Indian Power Stations - IPS 2015, NTPC Ltd

1. Use of CRH steam for soot blowing improves the heat rate of the 500 MW unit of around
0.9 kcal/kWh (average), compared to steam from Divisional panel.
2. The proposed modification has an economic benefit and payback period of approx 06 months.
3. The improvement in heat rate is proportional to the amount of steam consumed for soot
blowing, which varies from plant to plant.
4. There is a potential to reduce the cost of entire soot blowing package if CRH steam is used for
soot blowing, in future projects. (Pressure control valve and safety valve can be eliminated)


The author is thankful to PE (MECH SYSTEMS & BOILER / SG) group for support in carrying out
the simulation work, necessary input & for continued encouragement and support. Author would like
to place on record the support and valuable guidance received from ED (NETRA), GM (NETRA). In
addition, the author gratefully acknowledges the permission granted by the NTPC management for
publishing this work.

Dr. M. Muthuraman, Dy.General Manager, NTPC Ltd