You are on page 1of 399
  • 990 Boiler Operation Engineering

sary to seal between

them while providing al- Q. How are the nozzles arranged?

lowance for thermal expansion.

Perforated plate distributor is another popular design. But they have the tendency to allow fall- through of bed materials. Forasmuch as the plates operate at or near the bed temperature, they must be manufactured from a heat-resistant alloy plus

they must be designed

to retain sufficient me-

chanical strength at the operating temperature to

support the weight of the bed.

Again there are distributors which receive hot gases from oil or gas combustion and direct the combustion gases into the bed for fluidization and heat transfer. Such distributors must be designed to accept the hot gas. One approach is to retain

Ans. They are usually arranged on a uniform pitch of 75 to 100 mm over the baseplate.

Q. How is the hole dia of the nozzles designed to minimize particle fall-through?

Ans. The hole size is kept in the range of 2-5 mm which is a compromise between having an ex- cessive number and allowing particle fall-through. Larger holes/slots are sometimes used but they are always associated with bubblecaps to pre- vent fall-through.

Q. What should be the distributor pressure- drop? Ans. A distributor pressure-drop of about 12%

the nozzle standpipe design and water cool the of that across the bed-depth (typically 1.5 mm

baseplate, with insulation on the underside. The plate can either be of sandwich construction or an alternative design uses heat-resistant steel and allows for thermal expansion. One method of achieving this is to instal a grid of pipes (sparge

water gauge per mm of static depth) is usually required to ensure uniform distribution for the beds used in fluidized combustion. However, the distributor pressure-drop increases with the square of air flowrate if the bed pressure-drop is

pipes) with multiple air outlets to introduce the held constant. Therefore, it is necessary to pro-

air above the solid base of combustion chamber.

vide good distribution of the minimum air

The sparge pipes may have drilled holes in the flowrate. On this basis, the distributor pressure-

underside or be fitted with nozzle standpipe.

  • Q. What is the advantage of sparge pipes?

Ans. They can expand from the fixed end to accommodate thermal expansion while maintain- ing a gastight seal.

  • Q. What is the disadvantage of sparge pipes?

Ans. They must be carefully designed. The de- sign must take into account circumferential tem- perature gradients which can give rise to pipe distortion.

  • Q. What is the height of the nozzles above the

baseplate? Ans. Typically 50-100 mm.

  • Q. What is the nozzle dia?

Ans. Typically 12 to 25 mm.

drop, at maximum airflow, must be:

48% of bed-drop for 2: 1 turndown 108% of bed-drop for a 3:1 turndown.

This requires a distributor with an open area in the range of 0.5 to 2%.

Q. How is coal fed to the fluidized bed com- bustors?

Ans. During the early development of FB boil- ers, combustion was carried out using crushed coal whereupon it was found necessary to intro-

duce the feed immediately above the distributor to ensure good combustion. This was achieved by pneumatic injection using pipes with a diam- eter 6 times that of the largest coal particle, to

prevent blockage. The number of feed-nozzles varied from 1 to 2 per m 2 of the bed area.

Boiler Design


However, more recently, many units have been not heat the bed to a temperature at which com-

designed to fire coal as supplied, without crush- ing and drying. Usually, the coal is metered by a rotary valve or screw on to a chute, down which it drops to the bed surface. This method relies

bustion occurs below the surface.

Q. Why is a pilot burner provided above the bed?

Ans. To light up gas firing.

entirely on the bed to distribute the coal, which being fed in large lumps, keeps entrainment of Q. Why is the gas start-up unit not used in units fines at a minimum. Alternatively there is an- designed to operate at high fluidizing velocity?

other design that harnesses a spreader to distrib- ute the oncoming coal over a wide bed cross- section. However, this system increases the pos- sibility of rapid entrainment of fines. This method proves to be satisfactory if the feed coal is damp.

There is yet another successful technique:

Ans. The object of gas firing is that there should be a sheet of flame at the bed surface, giving rapid heating of the bed particles so that com- bustion moves into the bed at a temperature of about 925°K. Therefore, it is very much essen- tial during start-up that the fluidizing velocity

Feeding uncrushed coal below the bed-surface by should not exceed the flame speed of the gas

a screw-feeder.

This system

requires Jess feedpoints as the

uncrushed coal

has a lower rate of volatile


lease and elutriation.

being used. This is unlikely for units designed to operate at high fluidizing velocity and therefore, start-up through gas firing becomes void in these cases.

  • Q. Why is gas firing usually incorporated to

fluidized bed coal fired units?

Ans. It is incorporated so that it can be used to preheat the bed to about 925°K during start-up.

Also it bestows the FBC unit with cofiring ca- pability.

  • Q. How is it injected into the furnace?

Ans. It is always premixed with the fluidizing air.

For small installations this premixing is car- ried out in the air plenum, but for large units con- siderable care is required for adopting this ap- proach. Preferably the large plenum should be subdivided into multiple units. A preferred alter- native is to inject the gas into the standpipes usu- ally from a gas grid in or below the plenum.

  • Q. Why are gas and fluidizing air not introduced

separately into the bed?

  • Q. How is the additive feeding carried out?

Ans. Limestone (CaCO J ) or dolomite (CaCO J

MgCO J ) used for sulphur capture are crushed to

the correct size to form

the fluidized bed. This

additive can be blended with coal before firing or it can be charged separately into the furnace

by a pneumatic conveying system.

  • Q. Why is only one additive-feedpoint usually


Ans. The additives enjoy greater residence time in the bed than fuel particles. So the additive par- ticles introduced to the bed from a single feedpoint get sufficient time to get more or less uniformly distributed throughout the bed inven- tory.

  • Q. How does the bed-inventory dictate the de-

sign of FB combustor units?

Ans. When commercial size grades of coal or

other inert-containing solid fuels are fired in FB

Ans. If the gas and the fluidizing airstream are combustors, there is a gradual

accumulation of

introduced separately to the bed, it is generally observed that it gives rise to above-bed flame above each gas entrypoint. Obviously, this does

oversize inerts in the bed. Most of the coal-inerts tied to the ash are of relatively low density caus- ing the ash particles to diffuse throughout the bed,

992 Boiler Operation Engineering

thereby increasmg the mean particle size. This has the effect of increasing the minimum fluidiz- ing velocity and therefore, for a given operating

For vertically laid tubes, flue gas bubbles tend to flow preferentially upwards in the tubes. And the bubbles in their wake bring solid particles

velocity, less gas will pass through the bed as that cause erosion of these tubes at bends from

bubbles, reducing the intensity of turbulence. If the accumulated mass of oversize inerts exceeds 20%, the reduced mixing rate will give rise to lateral temperature gradients, eventually leading to clinker formation around the fuel feedpoints. When this might occur, it is imperative to pro- vide a bed-regrading system permitting periodic withdrawal of the bed material, separating the oversize by screening and returning the correct size to the bed.

Large, dense particles such as stones in coal segregate gradually and accumulate as a layer on the distributor. These heavier fractions deflect lat- erally and can be removed from the bed via a single off-take point provided that the feed mate- rial contains a very low percentage of such dense inerts. When this is not the case, it is necessary to make special provision to facilitate withdraw- al of segregated materials. This is achieved by incorporating an inclined distributor with the off- take at the lowest point. An alternative approach is to use a spargepipe-distributor with a hopper base underneath, allowing slow withdrawal of segregated mass of inerts from the bed.

  • Q. How are the inbed heat transfer tubesar-


Ans. Heat transfer tubes for raising steam are normally laid horizontally for forced circulation of BFW, i.e. if the BFW is circulated by a pump.

For natural circulation boilers, the inbed evaporator tubes must be inclined 10-20° to the horizontal, depending on the particular design. Superheater tubes and airpreheaters are usually arranged horizontally.

  • Q. What factors determine the layout of inbed

tubes and selection of tube materials? Ans. I. Fouling

  • 2. Erosion

  • 3. High temperature corrosion

vertical to horizontal within the bed. Similarly, bubbles tend to flow preferentially up the line of the horizontal tubes arranged above each other and for this reason a triangular rather than a square tube-pitch is preferred.

Low fusible components in the fuel may fuse at bed temperature to form clinker on the tube- surface, thereby contributing to inbed fQuling.

The fluidized bed is constantly in a state of high degree of turbulence of bed inventory con- taining highly abrasive silica. These particles in- flict erosion to the tube surface. Highbed temper- ature accentuates mechanical wear out of met- als.

Therefore, it is essential to make careful


lection of materials for the inbed evaporator, su-

perheater tubes and the tube banks of air-heat- ing units.

Low-chromium ferritic steels are a good choice

provided the higher- limit

of bed temperature is

restricted to about 775°K. Austenitic steels such as types 304, 316, 321 and 347 demonstrate good performance up to 925°K with or without sorbent

(limestone) addition. For bed temperatures <lS high as 1175°K, high-strength Ni-based alloys appear to be suitable, provided the bed is oper- ated without limestone or dolomite. This is be- cause with limestone addition, nickel-base alloys can suffer from intercrystalline grain boundary corrosion. For metal temperatures exceeding 925°K in beds of limestone, it is therefore nec- essary to use an iron-base austenitic steel, par- ticularly type 347, up to 1075°K; above this tem- perature, it is necessary to use a low-strength

super alloy such as GE2541 as a cladding mate- rial to protect a high-strength alloy base.

Q. How is a PFBC (Pressurized Fluid Bed Com-

bustion) unit designed?

Ans. There are two forms of PFBC 1. Air Cycle (Air Heaters Combined Cycle) 2. Supercharged Boiler (Sup((rcharged Boiler Combined Cycles) AIR CYCLE is presented, in its simplest form, schematically in Fig. 38.24 Air from the compressor is split into two streams. While the smaller portion is directed to

Boiler Design


fluidize the bed and supply combustion air, the major portion is circulated through inbed tubes wherein it is heated (to a temperature approach- ing the combustor bed temperature) to be mixed with hot filtered flue gas downstream. The com- bined gas stream is allowed to expand through a GT, to drive the air compressor and to generate power. The exhaust stream is used to produce steam in HRSG and this steam is fed to a ST to

generate power.

Ans. There are two forms of PFBC 1. Air Cycle (Air Heaters Combined Cycle) 2. Supercharged
it can become a problem in matching tur- bine and compressor characteristics at re- duced loads

it can become a problem in matching tur- bine and compressor characteristics at re- duced loads (i.e. reduced pressure levels) since it is independent of the pressure level.

Q. What is the

residence time of gas in PFBC

beds as against that in AFBC units?

Ans. PFBC gives much higher bed-residence- time to the gases used in fluidization and com-

bustion; typically up to 8 s for airheaters and up to 4 s for supercharged boilers.

As compared to this, AFBC units permit a maximum of O.5s of bed-residence-time of gases at atmospheric pressure.

Q. What is the impact of higher bed-residence- time?

Ans. It begets higher combustion efficiency and better sulphur removal (sulphation).

NUCLEAR STEAM GENERATORS Q. What is nuclear fission? Ans. The nucleus of heavy elements like U-233,


Q. What is nuclear fission?

Ans. The nucleus of heavy elements like U-233, U-235 and Pu-239 has the ability to capture and absorb neutrons, whereupon it gets converted to a compound nucleus. Sometimes this compound nucleus is highly unstable undergoing spontane- ous fragmentation into several approximately equal lighter nuclei plus two or three neutrons. This process is called nuclear fission and is accompanied by enormous amount of heat libera- tion. (Fig. 39.1)

Q. How much fission energy is available from 1 kg of U-235?

Ans. It is roughly equivalent to the energy lib- erated by the combustion of 3086 ton of coal or 1362 m 3 offuel oil.

  • Q. What do you mean by a nuclear chain


Ans. It is a self-sustained nuclear fission proc- ess which is attained when the production of neu- trons equals or exceeds the quantity lost through absorption of non-fissioning materials or leakage.

  • Q. What is the difference between fissionable

and fertile materials?

Ans. Fissionable materials are those which are capable of sustaining a fission chain reaction.

U-235 is the only fissionable isotope found in nature. Fertile materials are non-fissionable materials that can be converted into fissionable materials. U- 238 and Th-232 can be converted to fissionable material. Q. What do you mean by neutron capture? Ans. It means absorption of neutrons.

Neutrons, depending on their energy, may be ab- sorbed or scattered by the target nuclei or reactor materials. Usually a slow neutron or thermal neu- tron is captured while fast neutrons are bounced off. (Fig. 39.2)

Q. What is neutron balance?

Ans. In any power reactor where a ~elf-perpetu- ating fission process is going on, the production

rate of neutrons must balance the rate of neutron capture [by target nuclei, reactor materials, fis-

sion products (poisons, e. g. ~~5Xe) and control rods] plus the rate of neutron loss through leak- age. Q. What is critical mass? Ans. It is the minimum mass of fissionable material that wilLsustain a fission-chain reaction.

NUCLEAR STEAM GENERATORS Q. What is nuclear fission? Ans. The nucleus of heavy elements like U-233,
  • 1000 Boiler Operation Engineering

    • Q. What is the magnitude of critical mass for

naturally occurring fissionable materials?

Ans. It varies from just 200 gm to as much as half a ton.

  • Q. Should the actual fuel loading of a reactor

exceed, be equal to or be less than the critical mass?

Ans. 'It must exceed the critical mass.

  • Q. Why?

Ans. This is to make-up for fuel burn up and compensate other effects encountered during re- actor operation.

  • Q. What is fuel burnup?

Ans. It refers to depletion of fuel in the course of sustained fission reaction in a reactor.

  • Q. What do you mean by multiplication factor

'k' for a reactor?

Ans. It is defined as the ratio of the number of neutrons produced in one generation to the number of neutrons produced in the preceding generation.

  • Q. How can a reactor be classified


supercritical, critical or subcritical on the ba- sis of this multiplication factor?

Ans. For a reactor with k-value greater than one, the neutron population is increasing with time. Since reactor power is directly proportional to the neutron level in the reactor, for k > 1, the reactor power is increasing with time. Such a reactor is said to be a supercritical reactor.

If k is exactly equal to unity, a neutron balance is just maintained in the reactor. And such a reactor is said to be a critical reactor.

For k less than unity, the neutron population and the reactor power are decaying with time and the reactor is said to be subcritical.

Q. What is the reactivity of the reactor? Ans. It is defined by the ratio

1000 Boiler Operation Engineering Q. What is the magnitude of critical mass for naturally occurring fissionable
1000 Boiler Operation Engineering Q. What is the magnitude of critical mass for naturally occurring fissionable

1006 Boiler Operation Engineering

Ans. In heterogeneous reactors fuel may come in the form of thin rpds, hollow tubes, pellets, thin plates sandwiched together or lumps.

The fuel is usually alloyed with (embeded into) a suitable metal (aluminium, zirconium, niobium or molybedenum). The fuel element is cladded Uacketed) with suitable protective material (aluminium, zirconium or stainless steel) to pro- tect it from corrosive attack.

  • Q. Why has only limited success been achieved

in the use of metallic fuel alloys?

Ans. Metallic fissionable elements have proved to be unstable during long periods of irradiation and thermal cycling.

They develop a tendency to warp, grow, elon- gate or distort under intense radiation.

  • Q. How is the fuel element distributed in the

heterogeneous reactor core?

Ans. The fuel element is evenly distributed in the reactor core.

The distribution order follows a definite geo- metrical pattern (lattices) in the matrix of the moderator.

  • Q. In which form is the fuel distributed in

homogeneous reactor?


Ans. The fuel is alloyed with or homogeneously mixed with moderator, diluent and coolant and the mixture is evenly dispersed in the reactor core in the form of solution, slurry or melt. Aqueous slurries (020 or H 2 0) and liquid metal (molten bismuth) are used. The container material is stain- less steel.

  • Q. What are the potential disadvantages of het-

erogeneous reactors?

Ans. 1. Instability of metallic fuel elements over long exposure of irradiation and thermal cycling

  • 2. Expensive fuel preparation

  • 3. Removal of cladding for reprocessing the fuel is very complicated

  • 4. Fuel reprocessing is doubly expensive.

    • Q. What are the potential advantages of homo-

geneous reactors?

Ans. 1. Very good heat transfer characteristics

  • 2. Very good nuclear control characteristics

  • 3. Continuous chemical processing of the fuel solution is possible without the need of a dissolving solid fuel element

  • 4. Expensive fuel fabrication is eliminated

  • 5. Expensive refabrication of radioactive fuel material is eliminated.

  • Q. What is a moderator?

Ans. It is a substance incorporated in the reactor core to slow down the fission neutrons (fast neu- trons), i.e., a moderator converts a fast neutron into a thermal neutron by absorbing its kinetic energy and thereby increasing the probability of

neutron capture by the fissionable material.

  • Q. What substances are used as moderators?

Ans. Only three elements are actually used to moderate neutrons:

1. Ordinary hydrogen dH) or heavy hydro- gen (~H). As a moderator, ordinary hydrogen is used in the form of

  • (a) water

  • (b) solid and liquid organic compounds (diphenyl and terphenyls)

  • (c) intermetallic compounds viz, zirco-

nium hydride. Heavy hydrogen is used as the moderat- ing material in the form of heavy water,


  • 2. Beryllium It is used as pure metal oxide (BeO).

or as beryllium

  • 3. Carbon (high purity graphite).

  • Q. What should be the essential qualities of a

good moderator?

Ans. It must have the following characteristics.

(a) High macroscopic neutron-scattering cross-section

Nuclear Steam Generators 1007

  • (b) Low macroscopic neutron-absorption cross-section

  • (c) Low atomic mass to get the maximum

intermediate neutrons with the effect that more neutron flux is available for inducing fission and

fission energy.

K.E. transfer from the fast neutrons to the Q. What is the effect of adding a reflector to a

moderator atoms

  • (d) High resistance to the high radiation level in the reactor core

  • (e) High resistance to corrosion under high pressure and temperature

    • (f) Good machinability ifit is solid

  • (g) High melting point if it is solid

  • (h) High chemical stability

    • (i) High thermal conductivity for better heat transfer in the reactor core.

  • Q. What is a diluent?

Ans. It is a substance that adds mass to the fuel element. It is required particularly in fast reac- tors for heat removal and temperature reduction purposes.

  • Q. What is a reflector?

Ans. It is a material used in the form

of a layer

around the reactor core to prevent the escape of

neutrons by bouncing them back into the core.

bare thermal reactor?

Ans. It effectively raises the neutron flux and hence boosts up the power density at the edges of the core. (Fig. 39.3)

That is, the addition of a reflector reduces the

critical mass of a reactor by decreasing the rate

of neutron leakage and creates a sharp improve-

ment in the ratio of maximum-to-average power in the reactor core by increasing the neutron flux and hence results in greater power generation at the core boundary.

  • Q. What is the value of the maximum-to-aver-

age power in a reflected assembly? Ans. It varies, but one such typical value is

Pma/Pav = 2.4

  • Q. What materials are used as reflectors?

Ans. 1. Heavy water (020)

  • 2. Metallic beryllium or beryllium oxide

Not only does the reflector return the leakage neutrons to the core, it also slows down
Not only does the reflector return the leakage
neutrons to the core, it also slows down fast and
3. Pure graphite
  • 1008 Boiler Operation Engineering

    • 4. Uranium-238 (in production reactors).

Q. What are the essential qualities of a good reflector?

Ans. 1. Low macroscopic neutron-absorption cross-section

  • 2. High macroscopic neutron-scattering cross-section

  • 3. High resistance to oxidation

  • 4. High resistance to irradiation

  • 5. High radiation stability.

  • Q. What is a coolant?

Coolants: 2. Lithium





Sodium-potassium alloy (22 : 78)


Lead-bismuth alloy (44.5 : 55.5)


Lead-magnesium alloy (97.5 : 2.5)


Diphenyls and terphenyls


Petroleum oil


Sodium hydroxide


1. Helium


2. Carbon dioxide





Ans. A coolant is a thermal fluid (gaseous or Q. What should be the essential qualities of a

liquid) used to transport thermal energy from the core.

It is passed through the reactor core to remove the heat that is generated as a result of nuclear fission.

  • Q. By how many methods can the coolant re-

move heat from the reactor core?

Ans. A coolant can transport thermal energy from the core by anyone of the following three meth- ods.

1. Internal Cooling: circulating the coolant right through the reactor core. Circulation may be forced or natural.

  • 2. External Cooling: circulating the liquid fuel through a tube- and shell-type heat exchanger outside the reactor while the coolant abstracts heat from the fuel in the heat exchanger.

  • 3. Boiling Liquid Cooling: circulating and

good reactor coolant?

Ans. It must have the following properties.

  • (a) High thermal conductivity

  • (b) High boiling point, should it be a liquid

  • (c) High specific heat

  • (d) High thermal stability

  • (e) High density

  • (f) Low viscosity

  • (g) Low vapour pressure, if it is a liquid

  • (h) Low melting point

Over and above, it should

  • (a) Be chemically inert to in-core materials

  • (b) Have low macroscopic neutron-absorption cross-section

  • (c) Not become highly radioactive

  • (d) Non-oxidizing and non-toxic.

Q. What are the disadvantages of using ordi- nary water in the primary circuit, i.e. as a reac-

tor coolant?

allowing the coolant to vapourize within Ans. Water has a low boiling point and so it can- the reactor and to take the reactor heat out. not be heated to a substantially high temperature.

  • Q. Has the coolant any other utility apart from

transporting heat from the reactor core?

Ans. Yes; it can serve as a moderator as well as a fuel carrier.

  • Q. What substances are used as coolants?

Ans. Coolants may be of two types: Liquid or Gas.


1. Ordinary and Heavy Water

If it is used as reactor coolant, it must be circu- lated under high pressure and that makes the whole path too complicated and expensive as well.

Q. Why are reactor shields used?

Ans. They are used as envelopes (liquid or solid) to absorb all forms of gamma radiation. They also slow down and capture neutrons.

There are two reactor shields:

Nuclear Steam Generators 1009

1. Inner (Thermal) Shield comprises 10% of the total reactor shield thickness yet they absorb 90% of the nuclear radiation that tends to escape. Outer (Biological) Shield is several feet thick to protect the operating personnel and the environment from irradiation by y-rays or neutrons.


Q. Why are thermal shields used?

Ans. These are installed to protect the vessel from excessive heating due to gamma-ray absorption.

The absorption of high energy radiations by the steel vessel or concrete shield leads to high temperatures and temperature gradients with the effect that considerable thermal stresses are in- duced in the structures. Moreover, prolonged ex- posure to the radiations emanating from the reac- tor core brings about changes in the properties of the materials. Steel becomes brittle and the con- crete form aggregates which swell non-uniformly and that tell upon the strength of the concrete and may cause failure.

To avoid this disaster, reactor vessel and the biological shield are protected by thermal shields made of high heat-resistant and radiation-stable materials (iron or steel) absorbing the excessive radiation energy.

Q. What should be the qualities of a good shield?

Ans. The shielding material


must be a heavy element like lead, lead-

cadmium alloy, tantalum, iron, iron oxide or barium sulphate to absorb the harmful gamma radiations.

  • (b) should preferably have a low mass number

element, e.g., hydrogen in water, concrete, wood for maximum kinetic energy trans- fer from the fast neutrons. (c) should be a good neutron absorber (e.g. boron used as borax, borates or boric acid)

Q. Each reactor isprovided with a reactivity con- trol system. What is the purpose of this system?

Ans. It is provided to every reactor to serve the following purposes:

1. To start-up the reactor

  • 2. To bring it up to the design load and ca- pacity

  • 3. To increase and sustain the specified power output

  • 4. To shutdown as well as cool down the re- actor.

  • 5. To render the reactor subcritical under any abnormal conditions.

Q. What is the difference between reactor cooldown and reactor shutdown?


Cooldown is a process which is the after-

math of shutdown. If a reactor operating at full or part load is put out of operation either for rou- tine maintenance and overhauling or to avoid acci-

dents, the phenomenon is called reactor shutdown.

Whereas cooldown refers to the process of re- ducing the temperature and pressure of the cool- ants to their normal values following the reactor shutdown.

  • Q. What do you mean by the term "scram ca-

pability" ?

Ans. It is a special capability endowed to the reactor by its reactivity control system as a result of which the reactor goes subcritical under any abnormal conditions.

  • Q. What do you mean by shim rods?

Ans. These are coarse control rods.

They are used to compensate for variations in the reactivity when the reactor changes from the cold to the hot state, i.e. they are designed to compensate for variations in the temperature coefficient of reactivity. They are also used to compensate for fission-product processing and fuel bumup.

Q. What do you mean by automatic or manual control rods?

Ans. These are fine control rods, also called regu- lator rods. They are designed to maintain the re-

1010 Boiler Operation Engineering

actor capacity and the basic parameters of the coolant at a specified level by slight variations in the reactivity.

Q. What are scramming rods?

Ans. These are safety rods to ensure quick shut- down of the reactor, if there arise some abnor- malities.

  • (a) should absorb neutrons in the same way as does blotting paper the extra ink, i.e. it should have very high neutron capture cross-section

  • (b) should have chemical and radiation stability

  • (c) should have high melting point

  • (d) should not react with the coolant or mod- erator in the reactor core.

Q. In which configurational patterns do the con- Q. Why is every nuclear reactor core fitted with

trol rods appear?

a neutron source?


They may be

Ans. To provide a source of neutrons to bring

  • (a) cylindrical

start-up neutron level in the core.

  • (b) prismatic

Q. Why is the neutron level during the start-up

  • (c) cruciform

  • (d) rodded cruciform

  • (e) spherical.

period monitored?

Q. What is a chemical shim system?

Ans. This refers to dosing a neutron-absorbing chemical to the coolant to effect a control of the nuclear fission process in the reactor.

Ans. To prevent any inadvertent power excur- sions during this interval.

Q. What is the source of neutrons in the reac- tor? Ans. There are two types of neutron sources


(a, n) source

These must have high thermal neutron-capture

Q. How is reactor control achieved?


(y, n) source

cross-section. For example, boric acid solution injected into the coolant serves the purpose of re-

both using beryllium as the target metal.

activity control as boron has high thermal neu- tron-capture capability.

Ans. 1. Introducing or removing the strong neu-

The source of a-particles (projectiles) is plu- The source of y-rays (projectile) is radioac-

The source of a-particles (projectiles) is plu-

The source of y-rays (projectile) is radioac-


tron absorber called control rods (rods, strips or plates) from the core. This is called absorption control

  • 2. Fuel control, i.e. by varying the amount of fuel within the reactor core. If the fuel quantity is reduced below the critical value fission chain reaction will cease

tonium-239 which is mixed with beryllium and the mixture is used as neturon source.

tive antimony-124 (half-life 60 days).

  • 3. Coarse control, i.e. varying the modera- tor (0 2 °) level in the reactor

  • 4. Repositioning the reflector to vary neu- tron leakage.

Q. What are the essential characteristics of a good control rod?

Ans. The control rod

  • Q. What should be the threshold energy of this

radiation to eject a neutron from beryllium af-

ter impingement?

Ans. 1.6 MeV.

  • Q. How are reactors classified?

Ans. Reactors are classified on the basis of (a) their use

Nuclear Steam Generators


  • (b) fuel conversion

  • (c) neutron energy level.

Q. How are reactors classified according to their use? Ans. Reactors can be designed to generate power

either as a prime function/or as a byproduct:

1. Power Reactor: Designed to produce power. It may be stationary as in a central station utility plant. It may be mobile as encountered in a nuclear powered submarines, oceanliners. It may be package type transportable by dismantling.

  • 2. Production Reactor: Designed to convert fertile materials into fissionable materials to be used elsewhere.

  • 3. Research Reactor: Primarily meant for scientific research, study and investigation in nuclear engineering and basic physics. Here power is produced as a byproduct.

  • 4. Material Testing Reactor: Specially de- signed for case study of

    • (a) radiation damage

    • (b) tolerance level to irradiation

    • (c) beneficial effects of radiation.

Q. How can reactors be classified according to fuel conversion?

Ans. Reactors maybe

  • (a) regenerative

  • (b) non-regenerative type

A regenerative type reactor converts a fertile material like U-238 into fissionable material like Pu-238 by using a part of the neutrons available in the reactor. This generated fuel (always less than what is consumed) augment the life of the core.

A breeder is another form of regenerative re- actor that not only converts fertile materials into fissionable materials but also produces more fis- sionable material than is consumed.

A non-regenerative reactor deplets the reactor fuel to the point where sustained nuclear fission is no longer possible. Such reactors are activated bv loading a fresh charge of fuel.

Q. How can reactors be classified on the basis

of neutron energy level?

Ans. Depending on the energy level of the neu- trons used, reactors may be classified as:

  • 1. Thermal Reactor: that uses slow neutrons having kinetic energy less than 0.1 eV.

  • 2. Intermediate Reactor: reactor in which a portion of the fast neutrons (fission yields) is moderated down to thermal neu- trons.

  • 3. Fast Reactor: a reactor where fast neu- trons are not slowed down.

Q. How many types of thermal reactors are

there? Ans. 1. Pressurized Water Reactor using ordi- nary water under high pressure

  • 2. Heavy Water Reactor (pressurized or unpressurized)

  • 3. Graphite Water Reactor

  • 4. Boiling Water Reactor

  • 5. Organic Cooled and Moderated Reactor

  • 6. Sodium Graphite Reactor

  • 7. Aqueous Homogeneous Reactor

  • 8. Liquid Metal Fuel Reactor

  • 9. Fused Salt Fuel Reactor

10. Dust-Fueled Reactor.

Q. Apart from the above is there any other ba- sis for classification of reactors?

Ans. Reactors can also be classified on the basis

of 1. Fuel used

  • (a) Natural fuel

  • (b) Enriched fuel

  • 2. Moderator used

    • (a) Ordinary water moderated

    • (b) Heavy water (D 2 0) moderated

    • (c) Graphite moderated

    • (d) Beryllium moderated

  • 3. Coolant used

    • (a) Ordinary water cooled reactor

    • (b) Heavy water cooled reactor

    • (c) Gas cooled reactor

    • (d) Liquid metal cooled reactor

  • 1012 Boiler Operation Engineering

(e) Organic liquid cooled reactor.

Q. Briefly describe a pressurized water reactor (PWR) and its working principle.

Ans. A pressurized water reactor is a thermal reactor where slightly or highly enriched, hetero- geneous, clad uranium is used as fuel and ordi- nary water under high pressure is used as a mod- erator, coolant reflector.

The fuel used is usually uranium oxide, U0 2 , because it is highly resistant to irradiation damage and well adopted to high bumups. It has another big advantage that it is highly resistant to

corrosion inflicted by water at high temperature and pressure in case of accidental cladding failure.

Coolant-cum-moderator-cum-reflector is ordi- nary water which is circulated in the primary cir- cuit by the circulating pump pressurizing the liq- uid to 100-130 :itm. Heat carried by the coolant from the reactor transferred to the DM water of the secondary circuit to generate steam in the heat exchanger. The primary circuit including the heat exchanger is well shielded as the coolant in the primary circuit becomes radioactive. (Fig. 39.4)

The generated steam is directed to the steam turbine to generate electricity.

1012 Boiler Operation Engineering (e) Organic liquid cooled reactor. Q. Briefly describe a pressurized water reactor

Nuclear Steam GenetalOfS 1'"

  • Q. What are the advantages of a pressurized wa-

ter reactor?

Ans. 1. The principal advantage of a PWR is that it uses ordinary water as a coolant, mod- erator and reflector. Since water is avai- lable abundantly and cheaply, there is great saving in cost.

  • 2. The reactor is very compact and has high power density, 65 KW/litre. It can be made more compact if enriched fuel is used.

  • 3. of control rods are re- 60 control rods are re-

Small number

quired. Barely

quired in a 1000 MW nuclear power plant operating PWR.

  • 4. Greater energy is extracted per unit weight of fuel loaded. Therefore, PWR is ideally fitted for fuel designed for higher burnups.

  • 5. Safe and stable operation as well as self- regulation is possible because of high negative temperature coefficient of PWR.

  • 6. The power demand coefficient of PWR is positive, i.e. when more power is de- manded the reactor spontaneously re- sponds to supply the same. The negative temperature coefficient has made this possible.

  • 7. Optimization of the turbine cycle for the purpose of low heat rate supply is possi- ble because of separation of the second- ary circuit from the primary circuit.

  • 8. As steam is not contaminated by radia- tion, inspection and maintenance of the turbine, condenser and feed pump is pos- sible.

  • Q. What are the disadvantages of a pressurized

w,Ylter reactor?

AIls. 1. High capital cost and heavy and strong pressure vessel is required in the primary circuit.

  • 2. Difficulty in obtaining high steam pres- sure at the turbine.

Because of low pressure (60-70 tgf1 cm 2 ) in the secondary circuit, the ther- modynamic efficiency of this plant is as low as 20%.

  • 3. Corrosion is a severe problem induced by rapidly circulating water under high temperature and pressure. This dictates the use of stainless steel vessel and clad- ding, that further hikes up the cost:

  • 4. It requires slightly enriched uranium fuel.

  • 5. Fuel reloading takes a couple of months and that means a considerable downtime loss.

  • 6. Deadly and penetrating y-radiations cause uneven heating of the pressure ves- sel and thereby inflict thermal stresses in the vessel wall which is already un- der pressure stresses. This fact further complicates the design.

  • Q. What is a fused-salt fuel reactor?

Ans. It is a homogeneous thermal reactor that uses fused salt (uranium-235 tetrafluoride, UF 4 )

as the fuel while sodium fluoride and beryllium oxide is used as a carrier.

  • Q. What is the purpose of using beryllium ox-


Ans. It serves as a moderator as well as reflec-


  • Q. Can this reactor be used as a breeder reac-


Ans. Yes. In this case lithium fluoride or beryl- lium fluoride is used as a carrier while thorium tetrafluoride may be used as reflector.

  • Q. What are its advantages over an aqueous ho-

mogeneous reactor?

Ans. 1. High temperature operation (825°C) makes possible greater amount of heat transfer from the reactor core and hence higher efficiency 2. Operating pressure is low. So there is a

great saving in the first cost as high pres- sure vessel is not required

  • 1014 Boiler Operation Engineering

    • 3. Extremely stable

    • 4. Completely responsive to power-demand factor.

  • Q. What is a dustlueled reactor?

Ans. It is a thermal reactor wherein fissionable dust is carried in an inert (Helium) gas.

It can also act as a a breeder reactor if thorium- uranium fuel is used.

Ans. The tremendous thermal energy liberated

due to controlled nuclear fission of heavy nucleids (uranium-233, uranium-235 or plutonium-239) by

slow or thermal neutrons within the reactor core is transferred directly or indirectly to the work- ing fluid, i.e. water to generate steam. That is, a nuclear reactor may be thought of as a boiler fur- nace-a heat source-to produce steam and su- perheat it.

  • Q. What moderator is used in a dust-fueled re-


Steam is generated directly in a single-circuit nuclear power station operating a boiling type nuclear reactor (Fig. 39.5). Also it may be generated indirectly, as a result of heat transfer from the reactor coolant to the working fluid, in a two-circuit nuclear power station (Fig. 39.6) and in a three-circuit nuclear power station (Fig. 39.7).

1014 Boiler Operation Engineering 3. Extremely stable 4. Completely responsive to power-demand factor. Q. What is

Q. Why do nuclear power stations with aque- ous coolant usually operate on saturated steam of pressure 5-7 MPa (about 50-70 atm.)?

Ans. Water is a low-temperature coolant. And it is the pressurized water reactor where aqueous coolant can be subjected to the highest pressure and hence maximum temperature.

Q. Why do nuclear power stations with aque- ous coolant usually operate on saturated steam of

Fig. 39.8 Selection of working fluid Parameters

for generation

of steam in water

cooled water moderated reactors.

To ensure active heat transfer we can assume the temperature gradient between the coolant (i.e. pressurized water) and the working fluid to be 25 K, nevertheless, the degree of superheating that

Q. Why do nuclear power stations with aque- ous coolant usually operate on saturated steam of

distribution devices and impair the turbine's reliability. Hence to prevent these effects, it is essential to superheat the steam slightly, usually by 20K, so that moisture formation can be

avoided. Steam must be at least 99.8% dry.

Q. But as the steam expands through the successive stages of the turbine, it will become wet at some stages of the turbine. Therefore, the turbine will operate in the region of wet steam which will reduce the efficiency of the power plant as well as inflict blade erosion on the turbine. What can be done to get rid of this


Ans. Before the steam becomes wet to the degree at which it becomes inadmissible (generally to the low-pressure cylinder of the turbine) due to the risk of moisture formation and consequent blade erosion, the wet steam (i.e. extraction steam) from the high-pressure cylinder is introduced tangentially to the apparatus, called separating steam superheater, at the top (Fig. 39.10). As it passes through the separator, its

can be obtained at 63 atm. will be only 17K = moisture is removed and it then sweeps the

/:).()'.This explains why nuclear power stations operating on aqueous coolant usually operate on saturated steam at a pressure of 50-70 atm.

Q. Why is it essential to superheat the steam, usually by 20K?

Ans. As the steam expands in the turbine, it increasingly becomes more wet. Wet steam can cause erosion of turbine blades and steam

superheating surfaces heated up by the second- stage heating steam. The steam becomes superheated to 514K and exits from the top. It is then directed to the low-pressure cylinder of the


Q. Why can steam of high or supercritical pa- rameters only be produced by using a gas or liquid metal and not water as coolant?

Q. What type of configuration pattern of steam generators is preferred in the cases of gaseous
  • Q. What type of configuration pattern of steam

generators is preferred in the cases of gaseous or liquid metal cooled reactors?

Ans. Usually vertical.

  • Q. What type of configuration pattern of steam

generators is selected in the case of water- cooled-water-moderated reactors?

Q. What type of configuration pattern of steam generators is preferred in the cases of gaseous
  • Q. What are the chief advantages of a horizon-

tal steam generator of a nuclear power plant?

Ans. I. Design simplicity

  • 2. Ease of manufacture

  • 3. Reliable operation.

  • Q. What are the chief advantages of a vertical

steam generator of a nuclear power plant? Ans. I. Very compact

  • 2. Better radiation safety

  • 3. Greater unit capacity for a given volume.

  • Q. What are the comparable features between

horizontal and vertical steam generators?

Ans. I. Both are more or less equally costly with respect to total cost of the apparatus

  • 2. Both have roughly equivalent perform- ance characteristics and reliability

  • 3. Both can be assembled and tested at the manufacturing site and transported by railroad.

  • Q. Why is it not usually favoured to manufac-

ture a steam generator of the horizontal type for

a capacity exceeding 300 MW?

Ans. The size of the horizontal steam generator of capacity beyond 300 MW will be excessively and inconveniently large.

  • Q. How many types of steam generators exist

for nuclear power stations where water-cookd- water-moderated reactors are used?

1018 Boiler Operation Engineering

Ans. As regards the processes occurring in the secondary circuit, the nuclear steam generators

of water-cooled-water-moderated

reactors can be

divided into two main types:

1. Natural circulation steam generators 2. Once-through steam generators.

Q. How can these two be distinguished on the basis of the mode of steam formation?

Ans. In the natural circulation steam generators,


is transferred from a submerged heating sur-


to the working fluid

(water) which boils in

the bulk on the surface of the heating elements.


In once-through

systems, water flows under

pressure through a system of tubes or in the

intertubular space

of the dense tube bundle and

gets evaporated to steam as it abstracts heat from tubular heating elements on its way up from the bottom of the steam generator (vertical).

avoid leakage of reactor coolant from the primary circuit to the secondary circuit. Contamination of

the aqueous coolant by admissible.

corrosion products is in-

Q. The ends of the tubes used as heating ele- ments in steam generators are expanded in tube plates and the tightness of the joints should be very high. Why is such high joint-tightness nec- essary ?

Ans. To avoid the slightest chance of leakage of reactor coolant in the primary circuit, as this might

lead to the contamination

of working fluid with

radioactive material in the secondary circuit.

  • Q. Why is the heat transfer agent in steam gen-

erators with aqueous coolant circulated in tubes?

Ans. To minimize the use of metal in the genera- tor housing.

  • Q. Why is the intensity of steam generation dif-

  • Q. What are the heating elements of the steam ferent in various portions of the drum of a hori-


Ans. They are a system of tubes. They come in the form of straight tubes, U-shaped tubes, or helical. They may also be assembled into plain curtains.

  • Q. What is the diameter and thickness of the

tubes forming the heating elements in both hori- zontal and vertical steam generators?

Ans. aD: 12-22 mm Thickness : 1.2-1.5 mm

  • Q. How many such tubes are used in high-ca-

pacity steam generators?

Ans. As many as some ten thousand tubes may form the heating surface of high-capacity steam generators.

  • Q. Why are all the elements of the primary cir-

cuit of a nuclear steam generator of stainless steel ?

Ans. All the elements of the primary circuit are made of stainless steel to eliminate corrosion to

zontal steam generator?

Ans. As the coolant emerging from the reactor and loaded with heat passes through the steam generating coils of the horizontal steam genera- tor, it develops a variable temperature along the length of the coils. This is highest at the cool- ant's inlet to the steam generator and lowest at the coolant's outlet from the generator. This ex- plains why the steam generation intensity is dif- ferent in various portions of the drum.

  • Q. Is the intensity of evaporation from the dis-

engagement surface also different?

Ans. Yes.

  • Q. How can this be equalized?

Ans. This can be effected by placing a submerged perforated plate or differentiated supply of boiler feedwater to the coils.

  • Q. Between the vertical steam generator and

horizontal steam generator which one is affected by higher moisture carryover?

Ans. Vertical steam generator.

Nuclear Steam Generators 101.

Q. Why is the vertical steam generator affected by higher moisture carryover?

Ans. The intensity of evaporation, in the case of vertical steam generators, from the disengagement surface is much higher than in the horizontal type. As a result, vertical steam generators suffer from higher carryover of moisture by steam.

Q. How can this moisture carryover be dimin- ished?

Ans. The steam space height of the drum is sub- stantially increased to fit within it two or three steam separating stages. They will produce steam of satisfactory quality (dryness fraction 99.8%).

Q. What are the advantages of design of verti- cal nuclear steam generators?

Ans. 1. Higher compactness that bestows radia-

tional safety

  • 2. Substantial increase of unit capacity

  • 3. Thermal expansion of V-shaped tube bundles where such tubes are used in vertical steam generators, is self-compen- satory. This is a big advantage.

Q. Is there any typical fabrication problem en- countered in vertical steam generators with U- shaped tubes?

Ans. The ends of the V-ends are expanded in the tube plates. For high-capacity steam generators, the thickness of such tube plates may range from 600 to 700 mm. They must be accurately drilled

to produce

a large number of deep holes to fit a

large number of V-tubes for expanding of tube

ends. The manufacture and assembly of such plates is expensive as well as complicated. (Fig.


Q. What is the major drawback in vertical, U- tube type steam generators with a bottom tube


Ans. Here comes the problem of corrosion. The water in a steam generator may contain sludge (particular iron oxide) which tends to accumu- late (despite blowdown) in the bottom portion of the tube bundle just near the tube plate. Gradu-

ally, the sludge layer is evaporated, increasing the concentration of all water impurities, viz. chlo- ride ions and alkalis within the pores of the sludge layer. Vnder high temperature and higher concen- tration, these impurities become potentially cor- roding and can destroy even stainless steel tubes.

Nuclear Steam Generators 101. Q. Why is the vertical steam generator affected by higher moisture carryover?
  • 1020 Boiler Operation Engineering

The working fluid is introduced from the top of the helical tube system which is kept submerged in the working fluid to gener- ate saturated steam at a pressure of 60-63 atm. (Fig. 39.15) The feedwater moves down, by gravity circulation, through a descending channel formed by the jacket surrounding the heli- cal tube system. The working fluid moves

coarse steam separation, 1st stage) and a vertical annular louver-type separator (2nd stage) to produce dry steam.

Q. What is the basic advantage of a vertical steam generator with helically coiled tubes dur- ing temperature variation?

Ans. The thermal expansion and contraction of helically coiled tubes due to temperature varia- tion is self-compensatory.

ascendingly inside the jacket. 2. The upper section forms the steam space Q. What is the principal drawback of such a that houses a cyclone type separator (for system?

1020 Boiler Operation Engineering The working fluid is introduced from the top of the helical tube

Ans. It involves difficulties in the manufacture of helical coiling since the angle of coiling dif- fers from one tube row to other.

Q. What is the operating principle of a three- circuit nuclear power station?

Ans. Steam is generated as a result of indirect heat transfer in this system that employs liquid sodium as the reactor coolant and primary heat transfer agent.

In the first circuit (I), molten sodium is pumped through the reactor to transfer heat from the re- actor core to the intermediate heat-transfer agent which circulates in the second-circuit (II). (Fig.


The heat-transfer agent of the 2nd-circuit (II) may be sodium or an alloy of sodium-potassium. The flow of the heat transfer agent in the 2nd- circuit is made at a pressure higher than liquid sodium flowing in the 1st-circuit.

In the third circuit heat is transferred to the working fluid (water) from the heat-transfer agent of the 2nd-circuit. The steam generated is fed to the steam turbine to drive the turboalternator to generate electricity.

Q. Why is the heat-transfer agent

in the 2nd

circuit circulated at higher pressure than liquid

sodium in the primary circuit?

Ans. This is a preventive measure to avoid ra- dioactive contamination of the heat-transfer agent of the 2nd-circuit by that of the first circuit, should

there arise any leakage in the intermediate heat exchanger. Molten sodium of the 1st circuit becomes

there arise any leakage in the intermediate heat exchanger.

Molten sodium of the 1st circuit becomes highly radioactive due to its direct contact with nuclear fission and fission products. It emits high energy gamma-radiation. If the shielding in the 2nd circuit becomes loose, radioactive sodium will pass into the 2nd circuit and will render Na-K alloy or sodium of this circuit radioactive. Ulti- mately, radioactivity will pass into the working fluid and endager the safety of the working per- sonnel.

To overcome this problem, the heat-transfer agent of the 2nd-circuit is circulated at il higher pressure than liquid Na of the 1st-circuit.

  • Q. Why does a nuclear steam generator involv-

ing liquid sodium cooled reactor consist of three

circuits instead of one?

Ans. Liquid sodium while passing through the reactor becomes highly radioactive, which renders one heat exchanger insufficient and the whole heat-exchange system becomes complicated. In order to make the steam generator operation safe, the nuclear power station incorporates three cir- cuits and two successive heat exchangers.

  • Q. Briefly describe a steam generator with so-

dium coolant?

Ans. It is a shell-type steam generator whose shell diameter (00) is about 3m or less. The heating surfaces are made of V-tube arranged on the shell periphery. The working fluid is circulated through tubes and the molten sodium circulates in the intertubular space. (Fig. 39.17)

A cylinderical jacket is fitted on the shell to force a countercurrent flow of the coolant and the working fluid. The shell is prevented from over- heating by a thermal shield.

Q. Why is the shell diameter (OD)

of a steam

generator with sodium coolant 3m or less?

Ans. For manufacturing ease and transportation facility, the shell-diameter of a steam generator rarely exceeds 3m.

Q. In the sodium-coolant steam generator, mol- ten sodium (heat-transfer agent) is circulated in the intertubular space and working fluid through the tubes (V-shaped). Why not the reverse?

Ans. Since the working fluid is circulated at a much higher pressure than the heat-transfer agent (liquid sodium), the former is taken within the tubes and the latter (Na-coolant) in the intertubular space. (Fig. 39.17).

Q. Can you mention certain basic parameters

of a typical sodium-coolant steam generator?

Nuclear Steam Generators


Ans. One such typical generator with. 1320 MW output has the following working parameters:

Temperature of coolant at steam generator inlet = 833K Temperature of coolant at steam generatoroutlet = 653K Superheated steam pressure = 16.3/3.4 MN/m Superheated steam temperature = 813 K/813K.


  • Q. What are the advantages of sodium used as

a coolant? Ans. 1. It has low neutron absorption cross-sec-

tion (0.5-2 barns). So greater number of slow neutrons will be available for fis- sion process

  • 2. It has low melting point (371K) and high boiling point (1l56K). Between these two extreme temperatures, sodium will remain liquid and can be easily pumped and circulated through the reactor in the primary circuit

  • 3. It has high specific heat 0.3 kcallkgIK

  • 4. Its thermal conductivity is 120 times the thermal conductivity of water. Hence it is a much more efficient heat transfer agent than aqueous coolant

  • 5. It is economically available.

  • Q. What are the advantages of liquid metal

cooled reactors?

Ans. 1. High thermal efficiency at low cost

  • 2. Low cost of output power

  • 3. High thermal conductivity and high spe- cific heat of liquid metal render a higher heat removal rate at a much lower flowrate in comparison to gas cooled or water cooled reactors. Hence liquid metal need not be circulated at high pressure.

  • 4. High reactor stability. In other reactors, the reactivity of the reactor increases with the loss of coolant because of the removal of neutron absorber. Hence to

avoid overheating, these reactors must be

shutdown by inserting control rods. But in the case of liquid metal cooled reac- tors, the reactivity decreases with the rise of temperature. This is a great advantage from the point of view of safety.

  • 5. The reactor is compact and hence its size is comparatively smaller than other re- actors of same power output.

  • 6. If the liquid metal used

as a coolant is

sodium, then it will be best suited for thermal reactors with slightly enriched fuel. This is due to the low neutron ab- sorption cross-section of sodium.

Q. What are the disadvantages of liquid metal cooled reactors?

Ans. 1. With the increase of reactor core tem- perature, the neutron economy falls off, as the hot moderator subjects the high- energy fission yield-neutrons to reso- nance and thereby increases the probabil- ity of the non-fissionable capture of neu-


  • 2. Each block of graphite, used as a mod- erator in sbdium cooled reactor must be well cladded to prevent the diffusion of liquid sodium into porous graphite. This sodium-penetration in graphite layers causes mechanical failure. Hence graph- ite is to be protected from sodium-pen- etration by cladding, which further adds to the construction cost

  • 3. The liquid metal, particularly sodium, be- comes highly reactive as it extracts heat directly from the core. So to avoid contamination by irradiation steam is generated in the secondary circuit and both primary and secondary circuits are well shielded by thick slabs of concrete

  • 4. Compared to other coolants, the leakage of sodium (primary circuit) is very dan- gerous as sodium becomes highly radio- active due to irradiation

1024 Boiler Operation Engineering

5. All care must be taken to prevent the Q.

What organic fluid

does it use as a modera-

leakage of sodium in the water-circuit as tor and coolant?

it will react exothermally with water, producing enough heat as well as radio- active caustic soda, which increases the risk of further contamination.

Q. What are the advantages of organic cooled and moderated reactors?

Ans. 1. Organic liquids,

viz. diphenyls and

triphenyls act both as coolants and very

Ans. It uses a mixture of ortho-, meta-terphenyl and para-terphenyl as a coolant and moderator.

  • Q. What fuel and control rods are used there?

Ans. It uses enriched uranium as fuel. Boron it used as control rods.

  • Q. What basic condition should a nuclear reac-

tor fulfill in order to act as a breeder reactor?

efficient moderators. hence they are Ans. A breeder reactor produces a set of new

called super-moderators

fissionable material in the course of the burnup

  • 2. Compact core design is possible due to of primary fuel. That is, in a breeder reactor, the dual characteristics (coolant and modera- tor) of liquid hydrocarbons

  • 3. Non-corrosive. And therefore, low-cost mild steel piping can be used in the sys- tem. This saves initial capital investment

  • 4. Selection can be made from a wide vari- ety of fuels viz., uranium, uranium ox- ide, uranium carbide or uranium alloy because of excellent moderating proper- ties of the organic coolants

  • 5. Low operating core pressure

  • 6. Steam of higher parameters of pressure and temperature can be produced.

  • Q. What are the basic disadvantages with or-

ganic fluids used as moderator as well as cool- ant?

Ans. 1. Poor heat transfer characteristics , even less than those of water

  • 2. They undergo thermochemical changes

bumup of primary fuel results in the production of the secondary fuel.

In order to breed, the average number of neu- trons produced per neutron absorbed by the fuel

(1] = V (I/ (Ia)

must exceed 2-one neutron to

continue the fission chain reaction and the other neutron to be absorbed by a fertile nucleus to yield

a new fissile (i.e., fissionable) nucleus.

For example, when one U-235 nucleus under- goes fission by a thermal neutron, it ejects 2.5 fast neutrons. One out of these 2.5 neutrons goes to sustain the nuclear chain reaction of U-235 fis- sion, 0.6 neutron becomes absorbed by the mod-

erator, coolant and structural elements and the rest 0.9 neutron is capatured by U-238 nucleus to pro- duce a new fissile material Pu-239.

1024 Boiler Operation Engineering 5. All care must be taken to prevent the Q. What organic

This plutonium can undergo fission process and

due to radiation and heat. As a result they is called secondary fuel.

deposit on fuel-can surfaces thereby im- pairing the heat transfer further

  • 3. Organic fluids being inflammable, ad- equate protection must be taken to guard against accidents.

Q. Can you cite an example of a nuclear power plant that uses organic fluid as moderator and coolant?

Ans. The Piqua Nuclear Power Plant (11.4 MW), Piqua city, Ohio, USA is an example.

  • Q. So in a breeder reactor, the burnup of pri-

mary fuel is compensated to some extent by the

production of secondary fuel. How can this com- pensation be measured?

Ans. This can be measured in terms of the con- version factor, which is the ratio of the number of secondary fuel nuclei generated to the number of primary fuel nuclei depleted.

  • Q. What should be the conversion factor in or-

der to "breed" in a reactor?

Ans. The conversion factor should be unity or higher.

Q. Why cannot U-235 or Pu-239 be used as a

fuel in a thermal breeder reactor despite

the fact

that the value of 1] (the average number of neu-

trons produced per neutron absorbed) exceeds 2 for all fuels and neutrons of all energy?

Ans. This is because of the absorption of fission neutrons by non-fuel material and some leakage from the reactor core.

When U-235 is used as fuel, the average number of thermal neutrons emitted is 2.12 of which one goes to maintain the fission chain re- action and the remaining 1.12 are left for breed- ing. Since the loss of neutron due to leakage and absorption by non-fuel material well exceeds 0.12. less than one neutron is available for breeding. This explains why the breeding mechanism ceases shortly.

With plutonium-239 as the primary fuel, the situation is worse, as the fission neutrons (ther- mal) available as a result of the fission of one Pu-239 nucleus is only 1.94.

Q. Why are all the breeder reactors necessarily fast reactors?

Ans. The conversion factor should be unity or higher. Q. Why cannot U-235 or Pu-239 be
Ans. The conversion factor should be unity or higher. Q. Why cannot U-235 or Pu-239 be

1026 Boiler Operation Engineering

upon enough neutrons will not be available for breeding.

  • Q. What is the major advantage of afast breeder


Ans. A fast breeder reactor employs high-energy neutrons as projectiles. And upon fission, the tar- get nuclei eject fast neutrons also. Since there is no moderator, these neutrons are not slowed down. Since the structural materials do not absorb fast neutrons, a wide range of choices of construc- tional material is possible. This is a major ad- vantage.

  • Q. What is the major technical drawback of a

breeder reactor?

Ans. A breeder reactor has a very high power density-as high as 430 MW/m 3 of core volume. This is 13 times greater than a BWR, 40 times

Therefore, it is necessary to remove large quan- tities of heat from the core and for that special

coolants and special arrangements are required.

Q. What is a boiling water reactor (BWR)?

Ans. In this reactor, saturated steam is generated in the reactor core instead of a separate steam generator, i.e. in this system, fission heat is di- rectly transferred to the water to produce steam which is dried and sent straightaway to the steam turbine.

Q. In the early models, BWR was tagged into dual-cycle flow systems. Why was such a dual-

cycle system in vogue?

Ans. The dual-cycle flow system BWR consisted of two circuits-primary circuit that generated most of the turbine steam directly in the reactor core and the secondary circuit that contained a

that of a CANDU reactor and 200 times that of a steam generator to produce turbine control steam.

gas cooled reactor. (Fig. 39.18).
gas cooled reactor.
(Fig. 39.18).

In any BWR, the reactor power is controlled by the amount of steam bubbles in the reactor core. In a BWR, water is used as a coolant as well as the working fluid and moderator. There-

Nuclear Steam Generators


Following the fall in reactor power demand. the water recirculation rate through the core with jet pumps is reduced increasing the incore steam volume that downs the reactor power level.

fore, the displacement of water from the core by Q. In the BWR system, the control rods enter steam following higher steam demand by the tur- from the bottom of the BWR vessel. Why notfrom

bine is accompanied by a fall of reactor power unless the control rods are withdrawn. If the re- actor steam to the turbine is fed through a throt- tle valve, and the valve is opened to increase the turbine power, the reactor steam pressure will drop immediately. As the steam pressure in the reactor decreases, the steam volume in the core increases and that will bring about a lower reactor power.

This problem is solved by introducing a sec- ondary circuit incorporating a small secondary steam generator and placing the turbine throttle valve on the secondary steam supply line.

Now with the increase of steam demand by the turbine, the throttle valve is opened, as a re- sult of which the steam parameters-both tem- perature and pressure-will decrease. This will result in an increase of heat transfer from the pri- mary water in the secondary steam generator and as a consequence the reactor inlet temperature of the feedwater will decrease.

As cold water enters the reactor, it condenses some of the in-core steam increasing thereby the reactor power. This is how the dual-circuit ar- rangement essentially endows the reactor with an inherent load following capability.

Q. In the latest BWR steam generator systems, a single-cycle BWR circuit is used. And there is no secondary steam generator. Then how is the reactor power controlled?

Ans. The reactor power is controlled by altering the recirculation rate through the reactor core with a series of jet pumps. (Fig. 39.19).

With the increase of power demand. the water (working fluid) recirculation rate through the core is increased and that sweeps away the steam bub- bles from the core increasing the reactor power


the top? Ans. The top of the BWR

is filled with steam,

steam separator and steam drier assembly. Hence the control rods are inserted through the bottom

of the BWR.

Q. Is there any difference in the basic operat- ing principle of control rods between the PWR and BWR systems?

Ans. The control rods in a PWR enter from the top of the reactor and they are actuated by an electromagnetic system. During emergency. the reactor is scrammed by switching off power to the electromagnets letting the rods drop into the core under the influence of gravity.

However, BWR systems do not rely on grav- ity for emergency insertion. Here a hydraulic ac- cumulator system is deployed to store enough en- ergy to drive the scram rods into the core in the event of an emergency shutdown.

Q. While designing as well as operating a boil- ing water reactor care must be taken that the maximum heat flux is below the DNB (depar- ture from nucleate boiling) value.

What is DNB? And why

is it imperative that

the maximum heat flux in the reactor core does

not exceed the value of DNB?

Ans. Departure from nucleate boiling-a typical heat transfer phenomenon-can be demonstrated with the help of a boiling heat transfer curve. (Fig.


Nucleate boiling is a boiling heat transfer proc- ess that takes place at relatively low heat fluxes. In this region vapour bubbles are formed at the surface of the fuel element and break away. Be- cause of high convective heat transfer coefficients

Nuclear Steam Generators 1029

between the vapour bubble and the fuel element, a very high heat-transfer rate is established re- sulting in very marginal temperature difference between the saturation temperature and the fuel- element surface.

If the heat flux is raised further, the rate of steam bubble formation will increase and the smaller bubbles will coalesce to form big bub- bles, while simultaneously increasing the heat- transfer rate. Ultimately the big bubbles will merge to form long, continuous vapour bubbles almost completely isolating the liquid film from the surface of the fuel element.

The vapour acts as an insulating

layer and

when the surface of the fuel element is completely covered with vapour, the surface temperature shoots up dramatically. This mode of heat trans-

fer is called film boiling. The transition from nu- cleate to film boiling occurs at the departure from nucleate boiling.

Departure from nucleate boiling (DNB) takes

place at high heat

flux. Until or unless the heat

flux is reduced, the fuel element surface will lit- erally melt. And that is why during design and operation of a BWR (or any liquid cooled reac- tor) care must be taken to ensure that the maxi- mum heat flux is always below the DNB value.

Q. SO it is extremely essential to operate a BWR at a maximum heat flux which is well below the DNB value. How is this accomplished?

ments, the nuclear fission rate becomes moderate and therefore, the heat flux is kept at bay.

  • Q. What is HTGR?

Ans. It stands for High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor.

  • Q. What gas is used for cooling such reactors?

Ans. 1. Helium 2. Carbon dioxide

  • Q. Briefly describe a HTGR and its operation.

Nuclear Steam Generators 1029 between the vapour bubble and the fuel element, a very high heat-transfer

Ans. This is achieved by differential disposition of fuel rods about the control rod. The fuel rods having lower enrichment of fuel are disposed in the regions of high neutron flux to reduce the power generation of these fuel tubes. (Fig. 39.21)

The less enriched fuel tubes are placed along the outer edge next to the water gap where the control rod is inserted. The control rod shown here is in cruciform configuration. As the cruciform control rods, are withdrawn, the thermal neutron- flux increases sharply in the water gap produced by the control rod withdrawal. However, the ther- mal neutrons encounter less-enriched fuel ele-

Ans. Two gas-cooled commercial reactors are in operation in the USA. One is the 40 MW reactor (Peach Bottom-I) of Philadelphia Elec. Co. and the other is the 300 MW power reactor of Ft. St. Vrain.

The reactor is enclosed in a prestressed-con- crete pressure vessel (PCPV) along with the he- lium coolant and steam-generating and steam-su- perheating equipment. (Fig. 39.22)

These systems are cooled by helium and mod- erated with graphite. One proposed reactor of 3800 MW will produce steam of high tempera-

  • 1030 Boiler Operation Engineering

ture (515°C) and high pressure (16.55 MN/m 2 ). The design efficiency of the HTGR is about 38% which is comparable to the efficiency of best fos- sil-fuel fired units. Its operational parameters are:

Helium (coolant) Inlet Temperature 318°C Helium (coolant) Outlet Temperature 741°C Helium Pressure 5 MN/m 2 Throttle Steam Temperature 515°C Throttle Steam Pressure 16.55 MN/m 2 Reheat Steam Temperature 540°C Reheat Steam Pressure 4 MN/m 2 Core Power 3 800 MW Net Electrical output 1 450 MW Net Thermal Efficiency 38.2%

Another HTGR operating at Sommerset, Eng- land has an electrical power output of 248 MW with 26% efficiency. The reactor is a spherical vessel made of low carbon steel. Graphite is used

as a moderator as well as reflector.

The core is a

24-sided prism through which are inserted fuel

rods. The whole reactor is encased in a 3m thick

concrete shield that also

acts as a biological

shield. Carbon dioxide is used as coolant and

natural uranium is used as fuel.

Fission heat is transferred to the coolant gas, helium or carbon dioxide, from which heat is ex- tracted by the working fluid in the steam genera- tor to produce dry, superheated steam. The steam so obtained is expanded in the turbo-alternator to generate electricity.

Q. What is the advantage of using graphite to build the core of HTGR?

Ans. Graphite is a good moderator as well as excellent refractory material. It can tolerate very high temperatures. Besides, graphite has a high heat capacity. 1berefore, the graphite-built core of HTGR will absorb large amount of fission heat without the risk of core meltdown.

Q. What are the advantages of the gas-cooled reactor?

Ans. 1 Simplicity in fuel processing

Cladding is not required. Uranium car- bide (fuel) and graphite (moderator) are simply ground together and reprocessed.

  • 2. No corrosion problem.

  • 3. Higher stability of graphite at higher tem- perature and irradiation makes it an ex- cellent high-temperature moderator. Therefore, high reactor core temperature can be obtained without the risk of core meltdown.

  • 4. Both uranium carbide and graphIte can withstand high temperatures. Therefore, limiting the fuel element temperature is not that serious a problem as in other types of nuclear reactors.

  • 5. Better neutron economy due to low para- sitic absorption.

  • 6. CO 2 being a non-corrosive, non-toxic and non-flammable gas, completely eliminates the possibility of explosion in the reactor (cf. this threat is prevalent in water-cooled reactors)

  • 7. Higher efficiency than Light-Water Re- actors (LWR) viz., pressurized-water reactor (PWR) and boiling-water reac- tor (BWR). Thermal efficiency of LWR ranges from 32 to 33%.

Q. What are the disadvantages of an HTGR? Ans. 1. Very low power density

Gases have very low heat transfer coef- ficient.

  • 2. Large vessel is required. Because of low heat transfer coefficient of coolant gas, a large amount of the gas is to be circulated.

  • 3. Fuel loading is a more elaborate proc- ess. Besides, it is costly.

  • 4. If helium is used instead of CO 2 , leak- age of radioactive helmm will cause a problem.

  • 5. Circulation of coolant should be higher and that chews up 10-20% of generated power.

However, if an economizer is incorporated within the gascooled steam generator, it will in- crease the

However, if an economizer is incorporated within the gascooled steam generator, it will in- crease the temperature gradient at the inlet and as a consequence the exit temperature ()'"of steam will rise.

Q, What is PRISM?

Ans. It is a liquid-sodium-cooled, uranium/plu- tonium-fueled reactor designed by General Elec- tric Nuclear Co. to produce 155 MW per mod- ule.

PRISM = Power Reactor Inherently Safe Mod- ule

  • Q. What is the basis of PRISM:~ inherent safety?

Ans. 1. All its metallic fuel expands when acci- dentally overheated. This combined with the incipient thermal expansion of the grid plate assembly generates a large negative reactivity feedback slowing down the chain reaction.

  • 2. In case the shutdown mechanism fails, PRISM's passive heat-removal features ensure large safety margins for coolant temperature so that the reactor module can withstand all conceivable transients.

  • 3. Should there arise a leakage in the reac- tor vessel, the containment design ensures that the core remains covered with so- dium with the effect that heat is trans- ferred passively to air circulating natu- rally around the containment.

  • Q. How do chances of accidental overheating


Ans. This may result from 1. sodium-coolant loss 2. accidental control-rod withdrawal

  • Q. The modern trend is to design a passively

safe reactor. What is 'passive safety'?

Ans. This term implies a special design feature that automatically restores safe operating level to a reactor by natural physical laws-gravity, for example-without human intervention, should

Nuclear Steam Generators 1033

Nuclear Steam Generators 1033 there arise any abnormalities upsetting the nor- mal operation of the nuclear

there arise any abnormalities upsetting the nor- mal operation of the nuclear powerplant. Q. How can such a passive safety be realized? Ans. In SBWR (Small Boiling Water Reactore) use is made of temperature differences and natural convection to draw CfW through the reactor core, thus eliminating the need of a circulation pump for emergency start-up. In the event of accidental loss of coolant, depressurization of the reactor gushes water, from an an elevated pressure- suppression pool, into the core under the force of gravity, keeping the fuel covered without any external intervention. Absence of large pipe attachments below the core level ensures maintenance of the water cover. This is followed

by containment cooling

provided by a water

annulus on the side of the suppression pool.

tion or emergency power supply. In the fIrst step of emergency cooling, water flows into the core under gravity from tanks positioned over the re- actor vessel-aided by gas-pressure driven fluid injection to abstract the lions' share of the re- sidual heat generated in the core and the rest of the excess heat is taken care of by air circulating under natural convection over the steel contain- ment structure (Fig. 39.24).

  • Q. Uranium fission leads to the generation of

radioisotope Co-60 which emits deadly gamma radiation. How can this hazard be minimized?

Ans. 1. Removal of cobalt-bearing materials from the primary coolant circuit

  • 2. Improved piping-surface preparation to reduce Co-60 pick-up

  • 3. Enhanced system-decontamination proce- dures.

  • Q. What is THTR?

Ans. It stands for Thorium High-Temperature Reactor.

  • Q. Can you cite an example of one such reac-

tor that went into commercial operation?

Ans. A 300 MW-unit manufactured by Brown Boveri and Co. Ltd. (BBC), Baden, Switzerland went to full commercial operation in 1987. This plant located at the Westfalen Power Station, Hamm-Uentrop, Germany is jointly owned by Hochtemperatur-Kernkraftwerk GmbH and Vereinigte Elektrizitaetswerke Westfalen Ag.

  • Q. Briefly describe its design features.

Ans. It is a sophisticated and advanced nuclear plant design comprising two circuits.

Heat generated in the reactor core is abstracted by helium coolant circulating in the primary cir- cuit and it is then transferred to the feedwater in the secondary circuit to generate steam. Thus, the radioactive primary circuit is completely isolated from the non-radioactive secondary circuit.

In another reactor system AP-600, emergency core cooling can operate without human interven-

The reactor core, called a pebble bed. is dumped with hundreds of thousands of spherical

elements made of thorium contained in a cylin- drical graphite reflector. Helium under pressure is circulated

elements made of thorium contained in a cylin- drical graphite reflector. Helium under pressure is circulated down through the reactor core heated to 1033°K by the spherical fuel elements and is then directed through hot-gas ducts to the steam generators. Fission heat generated is controlled by the reflector rods. The core can be continu- ously discharged and refueled on line, dispensing with the refueling downtime necessary with light- water reactors.

Q. How is the performance of a nuclear power plant described?


It is described in terms of electrical and

thermal capacity. Q. How can this be expressed?

Ans. This can be expressed in terms of the utili- zation factor, K UI ' which is the ratio of the energy actually generated (Qac) during the time in ques-

elements made of thorium contained in a cylin- drical graphite reflector. Helium under pressure is circulated

Nuclear Steam Generators


Nuclear Steam Generators 1035 Q. What is the difference between pressure-wbe reactors and pressure vessel reactors.
  • Q. What is the difference between pressure-wbe

reactors and pressure vessel reactors.

Ans. In pressure-tube reactors, the pressure is taken up by the tubes. The coolant is pumped under pressure through hollow tubes.

In pressure-vessel reactors, the pressure is taken up by the vessel itself where the nuclear fission process is accomplished.

  • Q. Why must the water used as a nuclear cool-

ant be thoroughly purified?

Ans. Water to be used as a nuclear reactor cool- ant must be thoroughly purified and free from traces of impurities, otherwise these undesired materials will initiate corrosion and erosion of the materials used in the reactor core as well as the entire circuit.

Nuclear Steam Generators 1035 Q. What is the difference between pressure-wbe reactors and pressure vessel reactors.

The mixture of such gases is explosive.

  • Q. What factors should be considered in select-

ing the site for a nuclear power plant?

  • 1. The land allocating for constructing a nu- clear power plant should be of little or no agricultural value.

  • 2. The site should be chosen in the vicinity of a natural body of water, lying on unflooded land so that cooling water re- quired by the powerplant needs to be lifted for a minimum height.

  • 3. The soil at the erection site must have suf- ficient bearing capacity to minimize the expensive grouting process.

  • 4. The ground water level should be prefer- ably below the bottom of the projected building basements as well as buried serv- ices so as to avoid additional expenses re- quired for ground water lowering during construction.

  • 5. The site should preferably have a flat sur- face bordered with slopes for the construc- tion of power plant buildings and to en- sure sufficient surface drainage. Besides, nuclear power plants should not be constructed in

    • (a) localities of active karst

  • Q. Ordinary water is an extremely stable, non

to"ic. non-«xplosive heat transfer material. Hence it finds its application as a reactor cool- ant in nuclear power plants. Is there allY chance of explosion when ordinary water is used as cool-


Ans. Yes; despite its thermal stability. ordinary water undergoes radiolysis, i.e., radiation decom- posing water into hydrogen and oxygen as well as hydrogen peroxide

  • (b) localities with a high risk of massive landslides and mudflow

  • (c) localities with high risk of avalanches

  • (d) localities prone to tsunamis or other natural disasters

  • (e) localities likely to be flooded follow-

ing a failure of a dam upstream (f) zones left void after mining

  • (g) swamped or overdamped areas under constant inflow of pressure ground water

Nuclear Steam Generators 1035 Q. What is the difference between pressure-wbe reactors and pressure vessel reactors.
  • (h) localities near and around health re- sorts, spa and water supply sources.

BNBRGY FROM WASTB Q. What is the latest trend in solid wastt management? Ans. It aims


Q. What is the latest trend in solid wastt management?

Ans. It aims to attain four primary objectives I. source reduction

  • 2. recycling

  • 3. waste-to-energy conversion

  • 4. landfilling


What is source reduction?

Ans. It means

the reduction of the quantum 01



disposal at the source. This needs

a radical change in public attitude and in indus-

trial and commercial processes to minimize in solid waste.


What do you mean by recycling of solid


Ans. It means sorting out and return to the point

of manufacture of those materials from

the solid

waste for which it is economically

feasible to do

so. e.g. waste paper can be sorted out and recy- cled to the paper industry. Aluminium cans of soft drinks and other foodstuffs can be conveniently

recycled. So also use-and-throw polythene cups, dishes, trays and cutlery.

Q. What degree of recycling is economically feasible?

Ans. Industry experts opine that recycling is eco- nomically sound to the extent of 35%. Beyond this it is unlikely.

Q. Why?

Ans. 1. Public attitude has not been fully geared to accepting anything and everything pro- duced from recycled materials

  • 2. Source diversity is another problem


renders sorting and recycling of specific

materials to the point of manufacture dif- ficult

  • 3. Waste itself poses characteristics


deny 100% total recycle

  • 4. Method of production of waste and the collection responsibility also stand in the way of total recycle.

Q. What do YOll mean by waste-to-energy con- version?

Ans. Burning of waste to produce a valuable


and/or electricity.

It also offers a viable means of source reduc- tion, i.e. reducing the volume of waste.

As much as 47 000 tons of solid wastes were gulped down per day by the 160 existing munici- pal waste-to-energy facilities in the USA in 1989.

Q. How does "landfilling" play its role in the integrated approach to solid-waste manage- ment?

Ans. Filling the voids on earth

with the wastes/

residues leftover materials and energy recovery

Energy from Waste 1037

as well as maintaining environmental health com- plete the landfilling strategy.

Q. What is the traditional method of burning solid waste to produce thermal energy?

Ans. Mass-burning of solid waste.

Q. How is mass burning of solid waste carried out?

Ans. Solid refuse is trucked in and unloaded into a storage pit capable of holding a 2 to 4-days supply of refuse.

Large, non-combustible objects are sorted out and rejected.

The solid waste is mixed to a more homoge- neous mass, picked up from the garbage pit with the help of a mobile crane and grapple bucket and unloaded into separate feed chutes that sup- ply each boiler.

As the refuse drops down the chute onto a feed table, a series of hydraulically driven charg- ing rams continually pushes the mass into the furnace grate at a rate dictated by fuel or steam demand. The speed of the rams is controlled by motorized flow-control valves. (Fig. 40.1)

The grate consists of three inclined stepped sections where drying, combustion and burnout take place. Each section is composed of alter- nating arrays of stationary and moving grate bars. The latter agitate the refuse and force it down the grate by a push-pull mechanism.

Q. Why is refuse in the tipping house mixed be- fore feeding it to boiler furnace?

Ans. Mixing ensures homogenization of fuel to a certain extent. This fuel homogenization improves the operation of the furnace and minimizes load swings due to variations in refuse heating value.

Q. Why are oversize and otherwise undesirable materials removed from the refuse prior to its



by crane grapple

down to the feed

Ans. They may create problems in the feed chute or ash removal system. The feed chute may get clogged or ash discharging conveyor may get jammed or grate-air-slots may get blocked.

  • Q. Why

are the feed chutes kept full with refuse?

Ans. To maintain an air-seal.

  • Q. How is this safeguard ensured?

Ans. An alarm is fitted to ensure a steady rate of feed (fuel) supply. If the leve~ in the feed chute drops below a prescribed limit, an alarm sounds.

  • Q. How is the charging-throat

area protected

against burnback and radiant heat?

Ans. The whole charging-throat area at the fur- nace interface is lined with refractory brick or cooled with water.

  • Q. Why are

the furnace grates upon which refuse

bums stepped?

Ans. To promote burnout.

Primary combustion air is fed under the grate while secondary air, also called overfire air, is injected over the top of the fuel bed to ensure optimum combustion and emission control.

Bottom ash representing 80-90% of the total ash is discharged into the ash chute by the final member of pusher-type conveyors arranged in a cascade along the length of the grate. Also a por- tion of bottom ash falls through the grate-air-slots.

The system normally runs automatically though manual override from the local panel is possible .

The steppings expose unburned fuel for better combustion.

  • Q. How are the specific refuse burning condi-

tions maintained?

Ans. Each inclined stepped section of the grate is provided with at least one independent air plenum to supply undergrate primary air. Therefore, the proportion of undergrate combustion air can be varied to fullfil the specific refuse-burning condi- tions.

Q. How are grate functions controlled?

  • 1038 Boiler Operation Engineering

1038 Boiler Operation Engineering

Energy from Waste 1039

Ans. Signals generated by a discrete stoker con-

troller control the grate functions. The speed of

the charging ram of the grate

as well as the reciprocation rate and siftings system are determined

by the microprocessor-based controller. This also feeds information on the feed chute and shut-off gate and sounds alarms when the grate and siftings

sections have stalled.


How are the refuse-fired boilers designed to

combat the corrosive and abrasive nature of the refuse and flue gas generated?

Ans. The


furnace (extending up to 10.5 m

above the


is lined with a 25 mm

thick sili-

con carbide refractory anchored to the walls with

high density pin studs.


Protection is also ensured along the grate line by high-alloy cast blocks. These are replaceable liners. They are bolted to the waterwalls and ex-

tend up to 1.2-1.25m above the grate in the charg-

ing section

and up to

1m above the grate in the

discharging section.


Why is secondary air introduced?

Ans. It promotes high turbulence thereby ensur-

ing good mixing of volatile gases. As a result,

complete combustion

of unburnt particles and

partial oxidation products of the hydrocarbon frac-

tion of refuse is achieved.


Why is it imperative to operate the furnace

at the correct level of oxygen?

Ans. Correct level of excess oxygen introduced in the furnace achieves good combustion. Oxy- gen deficiency may lead to incomplete destruc- tion of toxic hydrocarbons such as furans, dioxins, etc. Appropriate amount of excess oxygen reduces the potential for corrosion.


How much excess air is used?

Ans. 80% excess air is used.

  • Q. Why 80%?

Ans. This has been derived from industry expe- rience which suggests that 80% of excess air is

just enough to optimize the combustion of solid refuse in the mass-burning system.

  • Q. Frequently it is found that mass-burning fur-

naces are equipped with one or two auxiliary

burners. Why?

Ans. These burners are installed for start-up/shut-

down or backup when refuse in response to higher steam

cannot be fired. Also demand these auxil-

iary burners are switched on. Besides, some in-

stallations fire these auxiliary burners to ensure the complete destruction of organic compounds formed during combustion.

  • Q. How are these auxiliary burners tuned to the

complete destruction of organic compounds gen- erated due to the mass-burning of refuse?

Ans. Mass-burning


are provided

with temperature sensors or some other mecha- nisms that trigger the firing of auxiliary burners

when operating parameters fall below the pre- scribed limit.

  • Q. How are the superheater tubes arranged?

Ans. Superheaters are of convective type. In a

current Foster Wheeler

design, parallel-flow su-

perheater tubes are laid out in the convective shaft of the horizontal heat recovery pass.

  • Q. Why are these superheater tubes protected

from excessive temperature build-up?

Ans. To avoid the risk of high-temperature roSIOn.


  • Q. How does the probability of high-tempera-

ture corrosion arise?

Ans. Flyash arrested on superheater tubewalls

may gradually build up, impairing the heat trans- fer from hot flue gas to the steam passing through superheater tubes. As a result, the tube metal tem- perature will increase and that will fuse the cor-


ash on the external surfaces of the tubes.


the onslaught of aggressive ash and high

temperature, the superheater tubes will fail.

  • Q. How can this risk be avoided?

  • 1040 Boiler Operation Engineering

Ans. The superheater tubes are spaced widely back on changes in furnace condition due to vari-

apart to avoid the risk of plugging. And to elimi- nate ash build-up they are cleaned by mechanical rappers.

Q. How does this rapping system work?

Ans. It employs a series of rapping hammers to impart shock forces to the superheater tubes. (Rapping means to induce vibration by means of mechanical shock impulses).

ations in the heating value of the refuse which changes the specified steam flowrate. The com- bustion control system then adjusts the flow of air and fuel to maintain the specified steam flowrate thereby minimizing load swings.

  • Q. Upon which factors does the efficient opera-

tion of a mass-burning system depend?

Ans. 1. Optimum regulation of fuel bed depth. 2. Combustion air distribution.

Each tube is independently rapped from one or both sides. Hammer blows induce high shock Q. How is the fuel bed-depth controlled?

forces to the tubes continually with the effect that the bond between the slag and tubewall is ulti- mately broken and the tubes get freed from ash build-up.

However a thin layer of ash always remains adhered to the tubewall to impart some degree of protection to the superheater tubes from corro- sion.

Ans. This is effected by regulating the

  • (a) refuse charging rate

  • (b) grate speed.

However, both these factors are functionally dependent on the nature of the refuse being fired as well as the location of the complete burnout on the grate.

  • Q. How is combustion air introduced to the

Q. Refuse is a heterogeneous mixture of varied kinds of materials having different heating value. Does this variation in refuse heating value, af- fect the boiler output in any way?

massburning combustor? Ans. A part of the combustion air

is fed

undergrate. This is also called primary air. The

remaining portion is fed above the bed. It is called Ans. Yes. Variations in refuse heating value cause overfire air or secondary air.

swings in the boiler output. And this is inevita- ble.

Q. How are these swings in boiler output ac- commodated?

Ans. To counter the swings in boiler output due to variation in the heating value of the refuse, a turbine-following-boiler control scheme is used. This means a constant boiler header pressure is always maintained by turbine controls while the electrical load is allowed to vary in proportion to the actual output.

Besides, there is a combustion control system that works to minimize load swings by respond- ing to changes in the refuse heating value. This control system is pivoted on two loops-oxygen flow-control loop and furnace exit-gas tempera- ture-control loop. These two loops give a feed-

Depending on the burning pattern and emis- sion characteristics, the primary or undergrate air is distributed to the various air zones where damp- ers are provided to effect flow control. Usually this air is preheated, but if moisture in the refuse mass is low, air preheating is bypassed.

Overfire ambient air is introduced into the fur- nace at different levels above the fuel bed.

  • Q. How much of the total combustion air is the

undergrate air? Ans. About 60%.

  • Q. Where are the secondary air nozzles located?

Ans. These high-pressure air nozzles are located at different levels on the front and rear walls.

  • Q. What is the basis of the set up of overfire air

nozzles at different depths?

Energy from Waste 1041

Ans. The following factors provide the basis of the location of overfire air nozzles:


NO x level in the flue gas

  • 2. CO level in the flue gas

  • 3. Observed flame shape

  • 4. Observed flame height

With the change of refuse heating values in different seasons, it requires adjustment of the overfire air system.

Q. Fireside corrosion of the tube metal of the evaporator is a nagging problem in a mass-burn- ing system. What recent improvement has been done to protect the tubes from the highly corro- sive environment?

Ans. Refractory lining has been found to be ef- fective. However, it demands constant mainte- nance and measurement of the thickness of the refractory wall. Besides, refractory is prone to slagging, which impairs heat transfer.

In a recent development, a weld-deposited al- loy of inconel-625 is applied to the furnace walls. In the zones of higher gas-temperature, Incoloy- 825 is used.

  • Q. Why are these alloys used?

Ans. They have high heat and corrosion resist- ance.

  • Q. Is there any other methods to slow down cor-

rosion process in the boiler furnace?

Ans. The maximum steam temperature is kept in the range 400-450°C in order to keep the tube metal temperature sufficiently low so that carbon steels and other low alloy steels can be used to reduce the corrosion rate. For the same reason, the temperature of flue gases entering the super- heaters is kept at 700°C or less.

  • Q. What is the present trend of solid waste burn-


Ans. Instead of burning untreated garbage in the mass-bum facility, the present trend is mass-bum facility with upstream preparation.

  • Q. What is upstream preparation of solid waste

subject to mass burning?

Ans. It includes:

1. Primary shredding

  • 2. Separation of light fraction and heavy frac- tion by density separation

  • 3. Recovery of such materials as ferrous, alu- minium, glass, copper, brass from heavy fraction

  • 4. Secondary shredding of light fraction.

    • (a) Burning the classified and shredded refuse directly in a boiler

    • (b) Anaerobic digestion of the shredded product to produce fuel gas to be burnt in the boiler or gas turbine or internal combustion engine

    • (c) Transformation of secondary shreddings into pellet5ror some other convenient form and then burning them in the boiler

    • (d) Pyrolysis of the product of secondary shreddings at an elevated temperature and in the absence of O 2 whereupon the carbonaceous material is thermally decomposed to liquid or gaseous fuel which is burned in the boiler.

Q. What is the utility of upstream preparation?

Ans. It offers better combustion control which is particularly necessary to limit the products of in- complete combustion that escape in the flue gas. For example, upstream preparation drastically cuts down the quantities of heavy metals entering the combustor and thereby reduces the emission of metals in the ash or flyash.

Upstream preparation produces refuse-derived fuel (RDF) that can be cofired in the utility boil- ers with other premium grade fuels. This offers an excellent scope for disposing of large amounts of prepared wastes and at the same time recover-

ing their inherent energy value.

Q. How many different types of combustor tech- nology convert waste to energy today? Ans. 1. Mass-burn units

  • 2. Starved-air modular units

  • 3. Excess-air modular units

  • 4. Fluidized bed combustion

  • 1042 Boiler Operation Engineering

    • 5. Rotary combustor technology

    • 6. Co-firing units that burn wood or coal along with the waste.

  • Q. How many different types of emission occur

from municipal waste combustors? Ans. Four types:

1. Particulates

  • 2. Acid gases, particularly HCl

  • 3. Metals

  • 4. Toxic organics .•

  • Q. How does HCI occur in the emission from

municipal waste combustors?

Ans. It comes from the combustion of plastic materials (cf. divinyl chloride plastic) and paper in the waste mass.

  • Q. What metals are emitted?

Ans. Cadmium, chromium, arsenic and mercury

  • Q. What toxic organics occur in the emission

from municipal waste combustors? Ans. Mainly dioxins and furans.

  • Q. How are these emissions kept at bay?

Ans. Emissions are minimized by adopting two basic technologies 1. combustion control 2. downstream add-on controls.

  • Q. What do you mean bycombustion control?

Ans. This involves:

  • (a) design of combustdrs

  • (b) operation of combJstors


  • (c) control of combustor performance

  • (d) enhancing the destruction of organic stuffs

  • (e) reduction of the quantity of uncontrolled particulate matter leaving the furnace

  • (f) maintaining minimum furnace temperature to reduce NO x emission

  • Q. How can a reduction in the quantity of un-

controlled particulate matter be achieved?

leaving the furnace

  • Q. What do you mean by add-on control?

Ans. It comes in the form


  • (a) ESP (Electro Static Precipitator) intro- duced downstream of the economiztr.

  • (b) Spray dryers followed by an ESP

  • (c) Spray dryers followed by a fabric filter

All are added downstream of the economizer

and in the flue gas shaft.

  • Q. Is there any particular advantage of a spray

dryer-fabric filter combination?

Ans. This combination eliminates multiple pol- lutants, viz. dioxins, furans, acid gases, particulate matter, and trace heavy metals.

  • Q. What kinds of particulate emissions take

place due to municipal waste combustion?

Ans. Two types:

1. solid particulates

2. condensible particulates.

  • Q. How do solid particulates originate?

Ans. There are non-combustible materials always

present in almost all solid wastes. Under normal combustion conditions in the furnace, these pro- duce solid particulates as flyash in the flue gas.

  • Q. How do the condensible particulates origi-


Ans. These are produced when a certain portion of refuse mass entering the combustion zone gets vapourized instead of burning out into CO 2 and water.

These vapourized constituents eventually get

cooled downstream and condense on their way from the boiler to the stack.

  • Q. In whatform are the trace heavy-metals emit-


Ans. They are emitted as vapour mainly in the

elemental form. They are also released as solid particulate matter in the form of metal oxides, chlorides and sulphates.

Ans. This is achieved through proper mixing of Q. What are the plus points and minus points pf

combustion air with the wastes ~nthe furnace.

wet scrubbers?


Energy from Waste 1043

Ans. High efficiency and low reagents require- ment are its two plus points.

Its disadvantage are

1. Water consumption

  • 2. Need to treat scrubber bleed stream

  • 3. Its incompatibility with fabric filters.

  • Q. Besides the above mentioned pollutants, is

there any other pollutant emitted by the munici- pal waste upon which special attention to be


Ans. Yes; it is NO x ·

  • Q. How is this generated?

Ans. It results from the oxidation of nitrogen con- tained in the waste itself. Also it is generated due to high temperature conversion of atmospheric nitrogen with the available oxygen. The latter is called thermal NO x


  • Q. How can the NO x emission from solid-waste

incinerators be reduced?

Ans. This can be implemented through several control measures.

Precombustion Control includes

  • (a) lowering the nitrogen content of solid- waste introduced into the furnace

  • (b) minimizing the amount of oxygen available for reaction with the avail- able nitrogen at the point of combus- tion.

Combustion Control includes

  • (a) operating the furnace at a lower tempera- ture

  • (b) selective non-catalytic reduction (SNR) of NO x by injecting ammonia through large jets fitted in the furnace walls at such lo- cations where temperatures are in the range 870-980°C.

Postcombustion Control includes

  • (a) selective catalytic reduction of NO x in the flue gas by ammonia over a catalyst bed downstream

  • (b) wet scrubbing of flue gases.

Q. What are the toxic organics that may exit the stack during municipal solid waste (MSW) burning?

Ans. These are chiefly dioxins and furans.

Q. In which form do they mainly exit? Ans. They may exit in three forms:

1. vapour form

  • 2. condensed form

  • 3. absorbed onto fine particulate form.

Q. Why do they form?

Ans. Incomplete combustion of carbon com-

pounds is the genesis of toxic organics.

Q. What steps should be taken for the efficient destruction of these harmful, incomplete prod- ucts of combustion?

Ans. This requires:

  • (a) adequate control of temperature

  • (b) supplying appropriate amount of combus- tion air through appropriate locations in the combustion system.

Q. What steps should be taken to ensure good furnace operation in a large mass-burning


Ans. 1. Combustible materials are to be sepa-

rated and non-combustibles to be re- moved from the refuse feed.

  • 2. Large blocks of combustible materials should be broken into more or less uni- form size.

  • 3. Elimination of moisture content of the refuse combustibles should be carried out by air drying to uniformly low levels prior to combustion.

  • 4. Furnace temperature should be control- led to ignite the refuse but it should not be so high as to increase the formation of NO x or vapourization of metals. Be- sides, furnace temperature should be be-

low the melting point of flyash.

5. Correct amount

of air in the correct lo-

cation should be injected into the furnace

to supply O 2 and ensure uniform tur-

  • 1044 Boiler Operation Engineering

bulence throughout the furnace to per-

Ans. 1. Coal mining wastes (e.g. anthracite culm)

mit complete reaction of unburnt matter

  • 2. Petroleum coke

with oxygen and at the same time mini-

  • 3. Bagasse

mize the entrainment of bottom ash into

  • 4. Bark

the flue gas.

  • 5. General wood wastes

6. Residence time of the combustion prod-

  • 6. Sawdust and shavings

ucts in the combustor should be sufficient

  • 7. Nut hulls

to complete combustion.,

  • 8. Rice husk

  • Q. Apart from mass burning, what other tech-

  • 9. Com cobs.

nologies are available for deriving energy from waste?

Ans. There are six other technologies available:

1. Fluidized-bed combustion

  • 2. Pyrolysis

  • 3. Supercritical water oxidation

  • 4. Infrared combustion

  • 5. Wet-air oxidation

  • 6. Deep-well wet oxidation.

  • Q. What are the prospects of fluidized bed com-


Ans. This offers a clean and efficient method of incinerating a variety of solid waste fuels.

Combustion efficiency is high because of in- tense mixing of combustion air and combustibles in the turbulent bed.

Boiler efficiencies are comparable to conven- tional units.

Bed temperature (810-870°C) is substantially low and more uniformly distributed with the ef- fect that NO x formation is greatly minimized while the destruction efficiency of hazardous or- ganics is as high as 99.99%.

  • Q. What types of fluidized-bed combustion are


Ans. Commercially available technologies are:

  • 1. Bubbling-bed units

2. Circulating fluidized-bed (CFB) units.

Both work on atmospheric fluidized-bed com- bustion.

  • Q. Name certain solid wastes thatfind their way

to fluidized bed combustion.

Q. What is culm?

Ans. Anthracite mining waste-dirt is known as culm. These are waste coals that pile up near anthracite coal fields.

Over the past one and a half century, about 1 billion tons of anthracite culm has been gener- ated in the anthracite mining areas of Pennsylva- nia, USA. This is a fuel whose ash content is high

but heating value is low.

This plus its high moisture content has so far dumped it as waste. However with the advent of the trend of waste-to-energy facilities, 20 projects

are operating in Pennsylvania

burning culm in

fluidized-bed boilers generating 50 MW of power each.

  • Q. What is the strongest point in favour of cir-

culating fluidized-bed boilers (CFB) for burn- ing anthracite culm?

Ans. They can bum pratically anything with heat


minimum fuel preparation. They

can turn waste into energy. For instances, several culmfiredCFB units in Pennsylvania's anthracite coal fields are converting high-grade dirt into elec- tric power. Ash contents of these fuels are as high

as 70%.

Municipal solid waste boilers at Alexandria,

Virginia gobble up as much as 975 tons of waste

per day. In the year

1989, 22 plants in USA alone

burned municipal solid wastes at the rate of 32000


Q. What are the disadvantages associated with


Ans. 1. Lengthy start-up/shakedown period

Energy from Waste 1045

  • 2. Constant wear and tear of critical auxil- iary equipment because of high non-com- bustible content

  • 3. Very large and complex ash handling system. Power output of the CFB facili- ties belies the size of the major auxil- iary equipments

  • 4. Fuel feed system suffers from improper performances

if fuel moisture content,

particle size deviate much from design

  • 5. CFBs firing on fuels with high non- combustibles as high as 70% accomplish little regarding solid-waste reduction, for the obvious reason of higher dosage of lime to absorb S02

  • 6. Refractory failure is a nagging problem. Refractory failure has been reported in

the combustor

and cyclone


Gilberton Power Co., San Diego, Cali-


  • 7. In many cases fuel preparation

is re-

quired using heavy-media flotation and centrifuging to separate non-combustibles

  • 8. Tube erosion is a major problem. This has been reported to occur in the econo- mizer and ash cooler (The Westwood Energy Properties, Pennsylvania)

  • 9. Sintering and/or agglomeration are com- mon problems. Agglomeration in the ash cooler has been reported (The Westwood Energy Properties and Frankville Power Corpn.). Many problems stem from mov- ing voluminous quantities of ash.

  • Q. How can the refractory failure problem be


Ans. 1. Changeover

to refractory

castable refractory.

brick from

  • 2. Increasing the height of the refractory in the combustor zone.

  • Q. How do agglomeration and sintering prob-

lems arise in culm-fed CFBs?

Ans. They arise from two main problems:


discharging ash from the combustor and/ or fabric filter

2. maintaining

the ash flowing properly

throughout the entire system.

Q. How can this problem be overcome?

Ans. 1. Switchover from Vacuum Ash handling System to Pressurized or Partially-pres-

surized Ash Handling

System. (The

Gilberton Power Co., California, USA).

Using air lance to maintain flow

  • 2. Incorporating Water Cooled Screw Con- veyor for continuous removal of oversize ash particles which contribute sintering problem

to the

  • 3. Installing control valves on the Fabric- Filter Hoppers and proper adjustment of speeds of the discharge conveyor to avoid leakage of very fine ash.

  • Q. What problems are associated with Fuel Feed

Systems of culm fired CFBs?

Ans. 1. Where fuel processing is required prior to its supply to the CFB, high moisture content and improper fuel particle size contribute to the jamming of the fuel feed conveyors (The Gilbetron Power Co., California, USA).

  • 2. If the dryer fails to function properly, the above problem aggravates.

  • 3. Where fuel benefication is not employed (The Westwood Energy Properties, Penn- sylvania, USA) proper screening of the fuel is the critical criteria for good com- bustor performance. High moisture lev- els make this difficult to achieve.

  • 4. Rotary valves are to be avoided in the fuel feed system.

Q. Is cofiring compatible with fluidized-bed

combustion of solid waste?

Ans. Yes the fluidized-bed combustion technique

has enough flexibility to permit simultaneous com- bustion of solids, sludges, slurries, liquids and gases in the same unit.

  • 1046 Boiler Operation Engineering

  • Q. Can you name such any operating unit?

Ans. A unit in La Crosse, Wisconsin (USA) burns RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel) and wood in equal amounts at a capacity of 400 tons/day.

  • Q. Many utilities can cut fuel costs with RDF.

But before they do so, they must select an ap- propriate unit and analyze the costs. Why?

Ans. The most essential requirement for success- ful burning of RDF in a utility boiler is that the introduction of waste fuel does not tell upon the capacity or reliability of the unit anyway. In case the utility has to compromise with the unit's avail- ability, it will invariably invite a huge financial penalty on the refuse-disposal system whereupon RDF burning immediately becomes economically impractical.

For a number of reasons, the fuel value of RDF is less than it might appear. And the RDF prepa- ration plant has to bear the sole responsibility of ensuring that an acceptable fuel is furnished to the utility boiler.

  • Q. What cost factors are to be considered for

burning RDF in a utility boiler?

Ans. 1. Transportation Costs are considerable. In most cases, it is less expensive on the basis of per ton or mile haulage to trans- port RDF than raw garbage. It would, therefore, appear to be best to locate the RDF preparation plant close to the gar-

bage and truck the RDF to the plant. However, in a number of successful cases, the fuel preparation plant is located at the powerplant and the RDF conveyed pneumatically to the boiler.

  • 2. Unloading Cost: Unloading the RDF at the powerplant site requires at least a one-day storage facility, and equipment

handling. Likewise the bottom ash han- dling system needs additional capacity. Heat exchange surface (evaporators, su- perheaters and air heaters) of the boiler must be upgraded to withstand potential slagging and fouling problems. 4. Cost of Fuel-Preparation Plant: It is entirely a separate and new establishment that involves capital investment in the MSW feeder, shredder, magnetic sepa- rator, air classifier, screen and magnetic separator to convert MSW to RDF.

Q. The efficiency of the utility boiler is reduced when RDF is co-fired with coal. Why?

Ans. There are three reasons:

1. RDF

has a high load of moisture

  • 2. RDF composition is never uniform. Hence excess air must be increased to allow for the variability of the RDF.

  • 3. RDF is pneumatically conveyed by air. This air is cold (I.e. it is not passed through the air heater in PC-fired units) and it re- duces combustion efficiency.

Q. A PC-fired boiler will need modification if coal is co-fired with RDF. Why?

Ans. RDF burns in the furnace in a completely different manner than does pulverized coal. The RDF particles have a longer burning time and therefore do not form a burner flame pattern. Some of them are lighter and they burnout in sus- pension similar to pulverized coal-combustion. The other RDF particles are heavier. They get ignited as they fall through coal flames, but spend most of their burning time on the grate. As much

as 24% of the RDF fuel value is released at the bottom of the furnace.

This is in sharp contrast to the combustion of

to feed RDF to the boiler. These add to pulverized coal, which goes to completion in a

the capacity cost of the project.

  • 3. Enhanced Cost of Boilers and Auxil- iaries: Precipitators or fabric filters mu~t

second or two. Some particles of RDF that land

on the grate take as much as 2 minutes

to reach

the fully devolatized state and probably twice as

have increased capacity to handle the in- long as to go through the complete combustion creased FG flow and the increased ash process.

Energy from Waste 1047

  • Q. If a utility wants to cofire RDF with pulver-

ized coal. what should it do regarding the fur-

nace modification?

Ans. The utility should install in its PC-fired unit

a dump grate to permit complete combustion of

heavier particles and prevent over-loading of the

ash and ash-hydraulic system.

  • Q. What are the prospects of introducing RDF

to a boiler firing slagging coal?

Ans. Coal slagging characteristics in the furnace

However, the air pollution control equipment

must be carefully checked to see if the capacity

is adequate to accommodate RDF burning.

Q. Do you prescribe for RIJ Fstorage?


Ans. Storage of RDF other than short-term stor-

age to take care of delivery cycles is not neces-


Q. Is there any health hazard associated with


Ans. None of the plants burning RDF have re-

are critical. Molten slag arrests most of the ported of increased health problems since intro-

heavier RDF particles which get only partially

burned, but change the fluidity of the ash-melt.

Any unit that is already beset with slagging or

fouling problems will have more problems when

RDF is introduced.

  • Q. What is the best way to cofire RDF with coal?

Ans. Cyclone furnace appears to be excellent for

burning RDF (Fig. 40.2).

duction of RDF firing.

However, good housekeeping is a necessity.

Q. What are the disadvantages of fluidized-bed

combustion of solid waste?

1. Feed solid waste stream must be closely

monitored and sized properly and more or

less uniformly

Energy from Waste 1047 Q. If a utility wants to cofire RDF with pulver- ized coal.
  • 1048 Boiler Operation Engineering

    • 2. Inorganic salts present in the feed waste must be absent as these salts may melt at the bed temperature or form eutectics caus- ing bed seizure

    • 3. At low loads, combustion efficiency is gen- erally poor

    • 4. Inbed tube erosion is a nagging problem.

  • Q. What is pyrolysis?

Ans. "Pyr" means fire while "lysis" means dis-

integration into simpler products. Thus pyrolysis

means chemical decomposition of a material at

high temperature in a closed system in the ab-

sence of oxygen. It also means destructive distil-


  • Q. What is the fundamental difference between

pyrolysis and incineration?

Ans. Pyrolysis is an endothermic process that

takes place in absence of Oz whereas incinera-

tion is an exothermic process that occurs in the

presence of oxygen.

  • Q. In what type of equipment, is pyrolysis car-

ried out?

Ans. This can be carried out in any of the fol-

lowing units:

  • 1. Gasifiers

  • 2. Vertical-shaft reactors

  • 3. Rotary kilns lined with refractory inside

  • 4. Regenerative towers.

  • Q. What are the products of pyrolysis?

Ans. 1. GASES-Hz, CH 4 , CO, CO z

  • 2. TARRY LIQUIDS-water plus 'organic compounds, viz., methanol, acetic acid.

  • 3. SOLID-carbonaceous char.

The derived fuels-gas is partly burnt to sup-

ply heat to the reactor while the surplus gas and

liquids are available as fuel by-products. These

may be burnt in a boiler unit in a gas turbine to

generate electricity.

  • Q. What are the advantages of pyrolysis?

Ans. It is a closed system operation and hence

contributes very little to environmental pollution.

Q. What is supercritical water oxidation?

Ans. In this process aqueous organic as well as

inorganic wastes are mixed with air or oxygen in

a reactor at temperatures exceeding 374°C and

pressure 225 kgf!cm z .

At these conditions water remains liquid and

lends itself as an excellent solvent for organic sub-

stances which whereupon reform to gases like CO,

CO z , Hz and

CH 4 and volatile organic liquids,

viz. alcohols, aldehydes and furans. No char is

produced. These are the primary products which

ultimately get fully oxidized to CO z and HzO lib-

erating sufficient quantity of heat which is car-

ried out by the exit liquid stream and can be uti-

lized to produce steam in a heat exchange proc-

ess (Fig. 40.3).

1048 Boiler Operation Engineering 2. Inorganic salts present in the feed waste must be absent as
  • Q. Is there any limitation of the supercritical

oxidation process?

Ans. Yes, its application is limited to liquid feed

streams. It is also not applicable to wastes which

contain more than 15 to 20% salts or liquid wastes

whose primary contaminants are heavy metals.

  • Q. What is infrared incineration?

Ans. This is one of the latest combustion tech-

niques. It employs infrared heating elements in

the combustion chambers to incinerate solid waste

on a moving chain. (Fig. 40.4)

There are two combustion chambers to which combustion air is supplied by airjets. While most of
There are two combustion chambers to which combustion air is supplied by airjets. While most of

There are two combustion chambers to which

combustion air is supplied by airjets. While most

of the solid waste is incinerated in the primary

combustion chamber, gaseous products of partial

oxidation of waste are completely burned in the

secondary combustion chamber.

Both combustion chambers are ceramic fibre


Residence time of solid waste in the primary

combustion ranges from 5-180 minutes at an op-

erating temperature of 260°C-I 040°C.

Gas residence time in the secondary combustion

chamber is about 2 seconds. Here upto 100%

excess air is introduced and temperature attained

is as much as 1260°C by the simultaneous firing

of gas fired burners as well as infrared heating


Q. What are the advantages of infrared incin-


Ans. 1. Lower capital cost

  • 2. Greater availability

  • 3. Total mobility for on-site applications

  • 4. Incineration can be carefully controlled and regulated

  • 5. 99.9999% destruction efficiency for toxic hydrocarbons like dioxins and furans.

NDB AND CONDITION MONITORING Q. What is the utility of non-destructive exami- nation? Ans. It is


  • Q. What is the utility of non-destructive exami-


Ans. It is an automated weld inspection technique

developed by Svejsecentralen, Denmark.

Ans. Non-destructive examination is one of the Q. What is the basic difference between a P-

keys to Quality Assurance. The advanced level SCAN and conventional automatic ultrasonic

of development attained in qualified examination

methods provides reliable proof of the specified

quality (for the most part homogeneity require-

ments) and a qualitative assessment of parts and

components in respect of their operating safety

and reliability.

  • Q. What are the important wings of NDE?

Ans. I. Ultrasonic examination

  • 2. Radiographic examination

  • 3. Liquid penetrant examination

  • 4. Leak testing

    • (a) Nekal test

    • (b) Helium test

  • 5. Eddy-current examination

  • 6. Magnetic particle examination

  • Source: Non-Destructive Examinations-Siemens

    AG/KWU Group

    • Q. What is the utility of automated ultrasonic

    weld inspection?

    Ans. To date automated ultrasonic weld exami-

    nation has been expedient purely where the scope

    of examination is extensive, where regions to be

    examined are not readily accessible or not acces-

    sible at all, where a large number of indications

    are anticipated or where particular demands are

    made on the information yield.

    • Q. What is P-SCAN?

    weld inspection technique?

    Ans. P-SCAN combines the merits of manual and

    automated examination.

    Q. How is weld examination carried out by P-

    SCAN technique?

    Ans. The P-SCAN automated weld examination

    system is a compact portable unit easy to handle

    (Fig. 41.1)

    The system is guided by a flexible magnetic

    strip which is fastened parallel to the weld. The

    scanner is firmly attached by magnetism and

    climbs freely to heights of more than 50 m.

    Up to four such units can be used, thus mak-

    ing simultaneous examination for longitudinal and

    transverse defects possible.

    The search units are exchangeable and it is

    therefore possible to use special search units to

    suit specific tasks such as nozzle examinations

    (Fig. 41.2)

    Findings are visualized immediately online on

    a monitor as a multicolor digital display with top,

    end and side views of the weld shown simultane-

    ously (Fig. 41.3)

    The echo amplitude is plotted below the side

    view. This online display ensures the accuracy of

    examination: where the diagnosis is not clear-cut,

    a decision on further steps can be made imme- diately on the spot. P-SCAN can be

    a decision on further steps can be made imme-

    diately on the spot.

    P-SCAN can be used not only to detect weld

    defects but also wall thinning (Fig. 41.4)

    Q. What are the advantages of the P-SCAN sys-



    1. The P-SCAN automated weld examina-

    tion systems is a compact portable unit.

    It is a low-profile lightweight unit and

    can be handled by a single person

    (Fig. 41.5)

    2. It is an automated and convenient method

    of examination based on well established

    ultrasonic techniques, which offers the

    mobility of manual examination.

    3. For tank/vessel inspection, P-SCAN dis-

    penses with the otherwise necessary

    equivalent set-up; the scanner is firmly

    method can also be used for internal ex-


    • 4. Recorded data is stored on disk and ar- eas of any size can be examined without interruption because of the use of multi- disk magazine.

    • 5. Two added advantages are; excellent re- producibility and immediate comparison of current and previous results displayed directly as the difference. Following an examination, the data can also be evalu- ated and processed on a personal com- puter at another location.

    • 6. P-SCAN can be used not only to detect weld defects but also wall thinning.

    Q. What are the chief components of the P-

    SCAN system?

    Ans. The unit is composed of

    attached by magnetism and climbs freely

    • (a) P-SCAN Processor

    to heights of more than 50 m. This

    • (b) The Scanner

    • 1054 Boiler Operation Engineering

      • (c) Echo Amplitude Recording

      • (d) PC DATA Processing System

    Q. What is the P-SCAN processor?

    Ans. The P-SCAN is a compact, battery-oper-

    ated complete stand-alone control and processing

    system equipped with a four channel UT data re-

    corder, LCD screen, miniature image printer, key-

    board and dual disk drives. The processor also

    features data transfer capability to a separate PC-

    assisted processing system.

    Q. What is the scanner?

    Ans. The scanner is sized to a conveniently port-

    able module. Scanning speed is adjustable up to

    6 mlmin. Search unit movements are freely pro-

    grammable for all types of scanners. The low-

    profile, slim-line scanner weighs about 15kg and

    can be handled by a single man.

    • Q. How is echo amplitude recording made?

    Ans. Echo amplitudes are recorded and stored

    together with the corresponding reflector position

    data. Basically, all echoes are stored regardless

    of amplitude.

    • Q. How is its importance realized?

    Ans. Sensitivity being freely selectable, it is pos-

    sible to discriminate otherwise indeterminate in-

    dications even if coupling and the location of in-

    dications prevent optimum scanning. Indetermi-

    nate indications can thus be detected even in the

    immediate vicinity of the noise threshold.

    • Q. How does the PC data processing system


    Ans. The hardware comprises a personal com-

    puter (AT) with 512 Kbyte memory, 20 Mbyte

    hard disk, two 720 Kbyte disk drives (88 mm),

    30 Mbyte laser disk and multicolor printer.

    The format of the data disk of the P-SCAN

    system is first converted to MS-DOS. The entire

    weld or any section thereof can be analyzed. A

    top, side or end view of the shape of the weld

    groove can be faded in to visualize indications

    relative to the weld.

    Source: Automated Ultrasonic Weld Exami- nation-Siemens AGIPower Genera- tion Group KWU.

    • Q. What are the functions and purposes of moni-

    toring and diagnostic systems?

    Ans. 1. Various physical parameters are recorded

    continuously or periodically, and com-

    pared with limit values

    • 2. To supplement operational instrumenta- tion and control systems by providing early warnings of incipient damage. Thus they help to minimize any damage, con- tribute to low-wear operation, and make condition-oriented maintenance possible.

    • 3. The 'off-normal system condition' can be analyzed based on stored data. With an appropriate knowledge base, a more ex- tensive diagnosis can be made, thus per- mitting future system performance to be forcecasted and instructions for manual intervention to be established.

    Q. What are the strategies of monitoring sys-


    Ans. MonitGlring systems are designed for two

    basically different strategies:

    • (a) Monitoring and recording of influences on the system during typical plant processes and over its total service life. This means determination of collective loads for typi- cal operation

    • (b) Recording of primary and secondary pa- rameters which characterize or accompany systems performance, and which change significantly when an anomaly occurs.

    Q. How is the first strategy implemented?

    Clarify it through an example.

    Ans. A typical example of first category is the

    FAMOS fatigue monitoring system. It determines

    the usage factor in highly stressed components.

    For this purpose, stress transients are determined

    or calculated on the basis of pressure and tem-

    perature measurements. These lead to the early

    determination of damaging influences and accord-

    NDE and Condition Monitoring


    ingly appropriate counter measures, viz. by chang- ing the mode of operation, ambient conditions etc. thereby preventing damage and extending serv- ice life.

    • Q. SO is FAMOS a preventive monitoring strat-


    Ans. Yes; it is primarily so.

    • Q. However, the majority of monitoring equip-

    ment fall into the 2nd category, i.e. recording of

    primary and secondary parameters that char-

    acterize system peiformance. What phenomena

    do they monitor?

    Ans. 1. Vibrations: whose

    change indicates a

    change in structural

    integrity of compo-


    • 2. Noise: It is normally associated with the development of cracks, the appearance of leaks, the impact of detached parts

    • 3. Detection of Secondary Effects due to Leak: Such secondary effects are tem- perature, radioactivity changes in elec- trical variables such as resistance and capacitance

    • 4. Leak Detection: involves direct detec- tion of the leaking fluid.

    • Q. The 2nd monitoring strategy is also called

    'phenomenological category'. Do such systems

    monitor only the primary and secondary param-

    eters associated with system peiformance?

    Ans. No. These monitoring units provide an early

    warning in the event of incipient damage. They insure more transparency by supplementing stand-

    ard operating instrumentation,

    which must natu-

    rally also provide monitoring capability (with the main emphasis on function monitoring). Early warnings triggered by monitoring systems deter the ramification of damage and make it neces- sary to plan repair. Changes in modes of opera- tion can be initiated promptly and selectively.

    • Q. Now-a-days a wide range bf sophisticated

    PC-based monitoring system~ collect and record

    online data on the mechanical condition and op-

    eration of powerplant components, detect loose

    or detached parts, and locate leaks in steam or

    water carrying components.

    What are these monitoring systems?

    Ans. 1. SUS








    FLU S






    MDP etc.

    • Q. What is S(; S?

    Ans. It is a vibration monitoring system. *

    • Q. What tasks does it peiform?

    Ans. Detection of changes in the mechanical con- dition of components.

    • Q. How does SUS detect changes in the me-

    chanical condition of components?

    Ans. By analyzing the components, characteris- tic vibration behaviour.

    Every component has its unique characteristic vibration behaviour. This behavior is dependent upon the component's mechanical properties and can be described with various parameters such as frequency, amplitude etc. which are determined with the help of characteristic vibration functions (preferably auto power density spectra). Because the vibrations are superposed, the parameters of several components are found in one characteris- tic function. If the vibration behaviour of a com- ponent changes, the values of its parameters also change.

    The vibration monitoring system, S US, ena- bles early detection of changes in the vibration

    patterns of the reactor coolant system components and reactor pressure vessel internals in pressu-

    * Schwingungstiberwachungssystem.

    • 1056 Boiler Operation Engineering

    rized water reactor (PWR) plants. In a 1300 MW

    PWR plant, this permanently installed system

    monitors 33 different vibration parameters.

    Q. How can the SU S be demonstrated?

    Ans. SUS detects mechanical changes in com-

    ponents based on their vibration behaviour. A

    change in the vibration behaviour of a compo-

    nent (Fig. 41.6) is one of the most sensitive indi-

    cators of a change in its mechanical condition,

    such as:

    • (c) damage of journal bearings in a reactor coolant pump

    • (d) contact between reactor coolant system components and the building.

    SUS monitoring system is largely automatic

    during normal steady-state operation. The meas-

    ured signals are electrically amplified and digi-

    tized, and transformed by a multichannel signal

    processor. The resulting characteristic vibration

    functions and parameters are compared against a

    reference value and plotted as a trend. In case (a) loss of pretensioning in flow-baffle mount-
    reference value and plotted as a trend. In case
    loss of pretensioning in flow-baffle mount-
    the deviations go beyond the predefined response
    ing bolts
    thresholds, the monitoring system signals this by
    reduction in stiffness of the core-barrel
    a change of color and indicates the respective
    hold-down springs

    Fig. 41.6 Change

    in the first natural bending frequency of the flow baffle which was lowered

    due to the loss of prestressing in the mounting bolts. This Ehange in vibration behaviour is reflected in the auto power density spectra of SU S system with the signal measured at RPV closure head.

    © Siemens AG. Reproduced with kind permission of Power Generation Group KWU/Erlangen/ Germany

    NDE and Condition Monitoring 1057

    parameter. The response thresholds are based on

    empirical data, structural-dynamics calculations

    and experimental analysis.

    Note: In future, SU S is likely to furnish more

    comprehensive information:

    • (a) the designation of the component involved

    • (b) the probable cause of the change in vibra- tion behavior

    • (c) the required corrective action.

    • Q. Where can the 5U 5 vibration monitoring

    systems be found today?

    Ans. This advanced and popular system is cur-

    rently in use in 14 Siemens, one BBR, and 17

    VVER (Russian) pressurized water reactors to

    monitor safety-related components.

    • Q. What safety standards does it meet?

    plant structure. The KU S loose parts monitoring

    system detects and records these bursts, analyzes

    them, locates their origin and thus provides in-

    formation on the operating condition of compo-


    Q. What is the utility of such detection of loose


    Ans. The prompt and reliable detection of loose

    parts entrained in the coolant prevents sequential

    damage such as damage to fuel assemblies, pump

    blades, cladding or to the roller expanded tube

    sections in the steam generator tubesheet.

    The significance of the early recognition of

    damage is revealed even more conspicuously in

    the detection of parts that have loosened but are

    still attached. This type of stationary, structure-

    Ans. It meets the requirements of the German borne noise, which is of low intensity, often sig-

    Safety Standards KTA 3204 and DIN 25 475.

    • Q. What is KU 5?






    • Q. What tasks does it perform?

    Ans. Detec'tion and approximate localization of

    loose and detached parts.

    • Q. How does the KU 5 system perform its tasks?

    Ans. By analysis of the structure-borne noise

    pulses generated by impact.

    When loose or detached parts strike other parts

    or components they generate structur