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For several years, Grant County Public Utility District (PUD) struggled with high temperatures and subsequent failures of the thrust bearings of two units at its 907-MW Priest Rapids hydro project. To solve the problem, the utility installed pressure transducers to measure load on the bearings, then used the measurements to more accurately adjust the bearings position. Project background The Priest Rapids project is on the mid-Columbia River in Washington. The powerhouse is equipped with ten vertical Kaplan turbines. Each umbrella-style generator is rated at 95 MW. Unit commissioning started in 1959 and was completed in 1961. English Electric designed and manufactured the thrust bearing assembly for each unit. This assembly consists of ten tilting pad shoes supported with an equalizing table. Each shoe is pre-loaded with an adjusting screw. The thrust runner is in two pieces bolted together, and then bolted to a thrust collar. The thrust collar is shrunk fit 0.05-inch onto the generator shaft. During start up and commissioning, it was necessary to scrape a depression in the babbitt to prevent overheating of the bearings. The scrape patterns evolved through the years with minor bearing wipes, developing their own patterns of areas needing a depression scraped. Often, a bearing set would require a wear-in period and more than one scraping before the temperatures settled. As a result of frequent high temperatures in the thrust bearing assembly, Grant County PUD conducted an inspection and scraping every four years. Modifying the thrust runner and bearing In 1995, after several bearing failures, PUD engineers decided to investigate alternatives to hand scraping for solving the overheating problem. On two units they measured bearing movement relative to the support, pressure at the high lift port, and temperature distribution across the leading and trailing edges of the thrust bearing shoe. From an analysis of the test results, the engineers concluded the oil wedge between the thrust runner and thrust bearing (also referred to as an oil film) pressurized the split between the two thrust runner halves, causing it to open slightly. This opening aided by centrifugal force allowed oil to flow out the end of the split. The oil leak resulted in unequal load on the thrust bearing, allowing the outer radius of the bearing to move up and briefly make contact with the thrust runner. This contact caused the temperature to rise on the outer radius and across the top of the thrust bearing shoe. As a result of the temperature increase, the bearing deformed into a crowned shape; this caused the top of the bearing to wipe if a depression was not scraped into it. PUD engineers conducted testing of the thrust bearings and thrust runner to resolve the overheating and failure issues. During data collection, a physical observation of the thrust runner split leak confirmed this unusual phenomenon. PUD crews reported that, when the unit was rotated manually (with the high-pressure lift system energized), a stream of oil squirted out the split in the thrust runner. Fretting corrosion between the thrust runner and thrust collar near the runner split was attributed to the split becoming pressurized and moving the thrust runner slightly. As a result of the analyses, the thrust runner on every unit was removed and the thrust runner split machined to achieve a tight fit. The connecting bolts on each thrust runner were shortened to provide more resistance to flexing. All the thrust bearing sets were machined flat without the scraped
depression. Another modification involved replacement of a threaded plug for the high-pressure lift system port with a plug that was welded flush. Additionally, all the radial anchor grooves which were intended to help hold the babbitt in place but can be a source of bonding problems were machined flat. From 1995 to 2004, as a result of the modifications to the thrust runner and bearing, PUD was able to discontinue the previously described four-year cycle of scraping, inspection, and maintenance on the thrust bearings. The number of forced outages caused by thrust bearing problems improved from an average of almost one unplanned outage a year to one unplanned outage every three years. Recent failures Then, in December 2004, a bearing failure occurred on Unit 1. Three of the ten bearing shoes had sections of babbitt completely removed. This failure was attributed to babbit bond failure on an older rebabbitting process. In the areas of babbitt removal, the bearing shoe had no tin left. The babbitt was previously bonded to the shoe with a trimetal copper process and anchor grooves. In May 2005, the Unit 1 thrust bearing failed again. A visual inspection showed the babbitt contained fatigue cracking on all the bearings shoes. PUD staff discovered three of the eight bolts between the thrust runner and thrust collar had broken. They also found a crack in the thrust runner split joint, resulting from the additional stress caused by the broken bolts. Powertech Labs performed material failure analysis, consisting of micrographs and scanning electron micrograph pictures. This analysis showed that the three bolts failed in tension due to fatigue. After this second failure, PUD staff disassembled the entire bearing support mechanism in Unit 1, including the equalizing table, to inspect it for wear or failures. On the surfaces of the thrust runner and thrust collar where they face each other, staff found excessive fretting corrosion. The corrosion caused the thrust collar to be out of tolerance. To fix the problem, PUD staff would need to machine the thrust collar in place. However, staff concluded in-place machining would be too risky. It would require design and fabrication of a custom machine tool. The high original tolerances for flatness on the thrust collar would be difficult for a custom machine tool. If the flatness tolerance was degraded further during an in-place machine operation, complete disassembly would be required to repair the damage. The next option to dismantle the unit even further to machine the thrust collar using a standard available machine tool was too costly. This option would result in lost power generation from the unit for about two months. The PUD ultimately decided to replace the thrust bearing runner with a spare and put the unit back in service. The PUD decided the damaged and out-of-tolerance thrust collar would not be repaired at this time. Before placing the unit back on line, the PUD added monitoring instrumentation to provide feedback on the operating characteristics. PUD personnel placed a resistance temperature detector (RTD) inside the six thrust bearings with no monitoring instrumentation. The PUD already used these RTDs on four of the bearings to measure temperature in the thrust bearing shoe.
A second attempt was made at torquing the adjusting screws. the unit would not rotate manually. raising the pressure relief on the pump. the pressure fluctuation on every pad (measured by the transducers) looked similar to a sinusoidal wave function with a frequency of twice per revolution. to meet future power demand. Although the problems were not solved. the PUD began placing Unit 1 back in service. The short time available prohibited the use of a less risky. If a bearing shoe does not leak oil. The end nut of the bearing was drilled and tapped to allow the pressure at the port of the high-pressure lift system to be measured while the unit was on line. more traditional method of measuring the pressure. This modification does carry the risk of developing leaks between the oil port and the pressure transducer. such as load cells or submersible transducers installed close to (but not on) the bearing. and manually rotating the unit with winches. In addition. as shown in Figure 1 on page 72.001-inch. The risk was minimized by careful installation and pressure testing of all the tubing. In September 2005. They were able to get the unit to rotate. the load on that particular bearing is too high. First. The PUD staff had no success with additional attempts to flood the bearing by jogging the pump. the unit was placed back in service because the outage schedule had been exhausted.Figure 1: Grant County Public Utility District connected pressure transducers to each of ten bearings in Unit 1 at its Priest Rapids hydro project to measure oil pressure at the high-pressure lift port. When the unit was in operation. they connected a pressure transducer to each bearing to measure the oil pressure at the high-pressure lift port. Grant County PUD had one month to assemble the unit and put it into operation. by lowering two of the thrust bearings by 0. In addition. two of the bearings did not leak oil out of the edges of the bearing with the high-pressure lift system energized. according to standard torquing procedures. yet the results remained the same. the thrust bearings were pre-loaded with the adjustment screw that holds the thrust bearing shoe up against the thrust runner. PUD staff determined the pressure was lowest at . A significant leak in the tubing could lead to the loss of the oil wedge and result in a bearing wipe. However. During manual rotation while the unit was off line. albeit with difficulty.
maximum.111 psi when Unit 1 was on line.111 psi was an improvement from the previous value of 1.770 pounds per square inch (psi). PUD staff lowered the two highest bearings and raised the two lowest bearings until the bearing pressures (with the high pressure system operating) were closer in magnitude. and average value of each pressure transducer. the average difference between bearing recordings was 514 psi with the high-pressure lift system running. Conversely. and 1. pressure transducers were installed on each thrust bearing so that pressure measurements could be compared to Unit 1. When Unit 1 was running.000 psi and the lowest around 1. the average difference in bearing pressure was 1. This tubing on a turbine-generating unit at Grant County Public Utility District s Priest Rapids project connects to the high-pressure lift port through the thrust bearing end nut and. After 18 days of operation. In September 2006. and the unit had to be taken out of service. developed by PUD personnel: .230 psi. Staff recorded the minimum. The average difference between the minimum and maximum values on a single pad was 400 psi. The difference between the minimum and maximum value represented the level of pressure fluctuation on each pad during one revolution. After the second adjustment. The average value for each pressure transducer was used to qualitatively compare the load on each of the ten thrust bearing pads relative to each other. Unit 7 s thrust bearings wiped. The 1. The thrust bearings in Unit 7 were pre-loaded with the standard torquing procedure and then adjusted up and down using the following process. the pressure was highest when the split was 90 degrees from the port.770 psi. to the pressure transducer. high thrust bearing temperatures developed. with the highest average bearing pressure around 3. ultimately. During the bearing replacement.the point when the thrust runner split was located directly over the high-pressure lift port (the pressure transducer port). Average operating temperature of the bearings was reduced by 2 degrees Celsius (C) under the same approximate operating head and generator load.
using the same process as it used on Unit 7. so the entire process was necessary in order to adjust the bearings. Then. Although the evenness of the load distribution in Unit 1 improved significantly from the first adjustment (from 1. During an upcoming planned outage. The reason for this discrepancy has not been determined. For the Priest Rapids thrust bearing problems.111 psi with the unit in operation.5 degrees C by evening out the load on the bearings. During a failure involving an unplanned unit outage (especially a . the average pressure for each bearing during one revolution was calculated.600 psi while on Unit 1 it was 2. the high-pressure lift system was de-energized. With a load cell. The more equally distributed the total load is on the bearing. Then. Operating under the same approximate head and load. However. The pressure data collected from Unit 7 was compared to that of Unit 1. Some of the Unit 1 bearings do not pick up an equal share of the load. the better the operating characteristics. The pressure transducer value cannot be recorded while making the adjustment. The average difference in bearing pressures was decreased to 182 psi compared to 514 psi with the high-pressure lift system operating only. This process was repeated until the difference in average pressure could no longer be improved. This process does take longer (a full day vs. The adjustment resulted in an average operating temperatures reduction of 0. the pressure in each thrust bearing was recorded again. The average difference in bearing pressure on Unit 7 was 300 psi while running compared to the 1. and several designated bearings were lowered or raised based on the average values.First. the PUD conducted a planned outage of Unit 1 to make a third adjustment on the thrust bearings. thus lowering the unit back down on the bearings. Third. In December 2006. The data recorded from Unit 7 confirmed that the thrust bearing adjustment could still be improved on Unit 1. the high-pressure lift system was energized and the unit was rotated until all the bearing pressures stabilized. the improvement did not allow the unit to match the average bearing pressures in Unit 7. the previous half day of preloading only). this also highlights a drawback to the pressure transducers vs. the highest bearing pressure on Unit 7 was 1. Fourth. The average bearing pressures (with the high lift system operating) for Unit 7 differed by 400 psi between the high and low bearing when they first pre-loaded and were improved to an average bearing pressure of 80 psi between the high and low bearing. finding historical information took significant effort. Grant County PUD most likely could adjust the bearings in one step. the unit was raised off the thrust bearings.770 psi to 742 psi). and some information had been lost. load cells. However. The highest and lowest pressure thrust bearings were adjusted first. it provides the ability to ensure the load is equalized across all ten thrust bearings. Further observation of the data revealed that the average bearing pressures from Unit 1 have a wider spread when the unit is loaded with hydraulic thrust than those on Unit 7. The units are scheduled for a major rehabilitation in five to ten years. Lessons learned Good written record keeping is important for finding solutions to recurring problems. Units 1 and 7 are now running satisfactorily.111 psi on Unit 1. and 742 psi compared to 1.500 psi. PUD staff will close a valve immediately downstream of the drilled port in all ten bearing assemblies in Unit 1 to further minimize the risk of leaking oil.
Its other advantages are i). To date. and pumps. or equal flow to each pocket from ganged gear pumps. A compact thrust bearing can feed high-pressure oil into a single pocket at the end of a rotor. This reduced thrust bearing temperature by about 10 C. or where space is limited. hydrostatic thrust bearing. Due to less friction. Six basic types are available. for example. The pads are less sensitive to scratches. M/s TPE Russia. During 1995. In most designs. Primary use is in equipment run at extremely low speeds. Tapered-land thrust bearings find use in mid to large-sized high-speed machines such as turbines. compressors. coin-sized flat washers in household appliances to sophisticated assemblies several feet in diameter for hydroelectric generators.reoccurring failure). Originally. and are easier to install. heavily loaded equipment including telescopes. The addition of more temperature data collection and oil pressure data on Unit 1 led to a new adjustment procedure for the troubled unit. Designs range from simple. The brake application speed can be further reduced. the need for high oil pressure at the time of starting & stopping may be eliminated.75 × external pump feed pressure of up to about 5. They cost less. Hydrostatic thrust bearings use an external pump to provide oil-film pressure when simple. a rotating face or shaft collar pumps oil onto a supporting thrust-bearing surface. an externally pressurized. Thrust bearings support axial loads on rotating shafts. and large radio antennas. These pads are being used in some Western Countries since 1974. thus decreasing wear of brake pads & hence contamination of winding. the transducers have provided accurate data. The first. which has allowed it to operate without continued thrust bearing failures. The other five thrust bearing types internally generate oil pressure (self-acting) to support thrust loads. with low viscosity fluids.5 to 0. are quicker to obtain. works for low-speed. Grant County PUD elected to use the transducers rather than load cells owing to a limited time for instrumentation. ii). observatory domes. useful in making bearing adjustments. Hydraulic flow resistors in the supply line to each pocket.000 psi. Yet. a flat land extends an additional 10 to 20% of . under high loads. at the time of up gradation of Bhakra Right Bank Power Plant machines. provide the asymmetric pocket pressures needed to support off-center loads. the focus is often on returning the unit to service and not determining the cause of failure. observations noted during a failure often help with future problems. The pressure transducers have turned out to be a cost-effective alternative to load cells for measuring the bearing load. Unit loading on such bearings is usually limited to about 0. The PUD believes the new procedure for thrust bearing adjustment is superior to the old process of torquing that will result in more equal bearing loading and longer bearing life. internal hydrodynamic pumping action cannot generate sufficient force. where structures may weigh a million pounds or more. Grant County PUD has improved its record-keeping process by archiving the information found so far using Maximo from MRO Software and producing internal reports on recent failures. iii). supplied Teflon coated thrust bearing pads. Larger bearings may employ three or more pressurized pockets. Here. Teflon coated thrust bearing The babbitt lining can be replaced by teflon lining.
Leveling links behind the pivots accommodate minor misalignment and equalize loads on each of three to 10 pads. they are well suited to massproduced small bearings and thrust washers. Oil fed directly into a leading edge groove in each pad (nonflooded lubrication) minimizes hot oil carryover from pad to pad.the circumferential breadth B at the trailing edge of each segment. The downside: Bearings with offset pivots rotate in one direction only. individual segments are square (radial length L = B) and have a circumferential taper of about 0. Slot-shaped oil inlet openings between individual pads consume about 15% of available area between the inside and outside diameters.5 to 2× the minimum film thickness. Step thrust bearings use a coined or etched step. pads incorporate a small spherical or cylindrical crown with a height 0. The shortened path in the tangential direction of motion avoids overheating the oil film and babbitt bearing surface. which helps maintain load capacity. the largest diameter bearings use elongated pads with B shorter than L. While individual pads are often square (L/B = 1). and therefore are commonly designed to match operating conditions of specific. They work with low-viscosity fluids such as water. and at low speeds. and gases. This extension can boost load capacity 10 to 15% and reduce wear during starts. Film thickness is minimal with low-viscosity fluids such as water. and solvents. lowers operating temperatures. Step height must nearly equal minimum film thickness for optimum load capacity. carrying millions of pounds in hydroelectric generators. Most units contain six pads. and provides ample oil-film thickness for continuous operation. . Offsetting the pivot location about 65% beyond the leading edge raises load capacity.5. A step provides the same amount of hydrodynamic pumping action as a wedge. compressors. and cuts power loss. Each pad mounts on a nest of precompressed springs to avoid the high contact stresses otherwise imposed by loading individual pivots. Wear and erosion diminish step effectiveness. yet be large enough to permit some wear. Pads automatically adjust to form a nearly optimal oil wedge that supports high loads over widely varying speeds in either direction and with a variety of lubricants. These large spring-mounted bearings are built to tight tolerance. and lubricant viscosity. speed. which helps maintain a thin oil film during starts and stops. gasoline. As such. In smaller bearings where axial space is at a premium. rubber backing provides the flexible support.003B0. Tapered-land bearings are sensitive to load. constant-speed machines. It also lets oil drain from the housing to mostly eliminate parasitic power loss at high surface speeds. for example. In many turbine and compressor applications. liquid metals. Gradual wear increases this flat portion to about 30 to 50% of total area. with outside diameters twice the inside diameters. Pivot location is usually set 55 to 58% radially outward on the pad to avoid radial tilt. though the stepped design hasn't caught on for large machinery because it tends to accumulate dirt. In such applications. as well as marine drives. Pivoted-pad thrust bearings are typically used in turbines. stops. The arrangement handles loads about equal to flat-surfaced pads that have an optimum pivot location. Spring-mounted bearings typically run at speeds from 50 to 700 rpm at projected unit loads of 400 to 500 psi. pumps. in much the same general size and load range as tapered-land designs. Spring-mounted thrust bearings are some of the largest self-acting types. Replacing steel with copper for backing of the babbitt bearing material also lowers peak surface temperature.
7. 3. crankshafts. and other machinery. Flatland bearings carry 10 to 20% the load of other thrust-bearing types.5% antimony.5% copper) gets the nod for most industrial. raising unit load to about 100 psi. . MATERIALS Tin babbitt (typically ASTM B23. and transportation equipment. They handle light loads for simple positioning of rotors in electric motors. Applying a thin tin-babbitt layer a few mils thick on a bronze or steel shell.Flat-land thrust bearings are the simplest and least expensive to make. Applying a thin electroplated babbitt overlay to a copper alloy substrate helps avoid transfer of the latter to steel thrust runners. Small flat-land bearings with no oil-distributing grooves handle unit loads from 20 to 35 psi. adding four to eight radial oil-distributing grooves improves oil feed and cooling. marine. This is because flat parallel surfaces do not directly build oil-film pressure through pumping action. The material resists corrosion and helps prevent scoring of rotating steel thrust surfaces because hard dirt and wear particles easily embed into its surface. appliances. Alloy 2: 88% tin. They depend instead on thermal expansion of both the oil film and bearing surface to generate an oil-supporting wedge. up to about 125 mils thick on larger units partially offsets the material's low fatigue strength with oscillating loads. In larger bearings.
This audit indicated that the units could also be upgraded to increase power production at the facility by nearly 12%. but a residual problem of recurring cavitation damage to the thrust bearing pads emerged. After 30 years of operation. the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) recommended rearranging the thrust bearing support springs. had a capacity of 588 MW. This would solve the cavitation problem. owners the Volta River Authority carried out a technical audit with the objective of modernizing the plant to operate for another 25 to 30 years. Volta River Authority began a major overhaul of the generators and turbines that included installation of new runners supplied by GE of Canada and VA Tech of Austria. on the Volta River in Ghana. Carbon graphite and rubber work for bearings run in water and various low-viscosity fluids. Operating temperature was reduced 7oC to 8oC (from 83oC to 76oC). but the bearing would still be overloaded. Replacing these bearings with a new runner plate and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) bearings significantly reduced unit operating temperatures and eliminated recurring cavitation damage. 7% tin. and automobile and agriculture equipment. Upgrading Thrust Bearings at Akosombo Installation of new runners at the 1. To rectify the situation. especially with water contamination. keyed and bolted together to form one complete ring (with no gaps at the splits). 7% lead. In 1999.020 MW. commissioned in 1965. 3% zinc) are in many small and low-speed machines as low-cost thrust washers and bushing thrust faces. appliances. installing the new runners at the Akosombo plant caused some problems. The final two units were commissioned in 1972 and had a capacity of 324 MW. Volta River Authority contracted Hydro Tech Inc. Installation of the new thrust bearing assembly was completed on Units 2 and 5 at Akosombo in November 2009. Alloy 15: 83% lead. Akosombo has a capacity of 1.Lead babbitt (typically ASTM B23. However. the Akosombo Generating Station. Reinforced plastics and porous iron and bronze work for bearings and thrust washers in fractional horsepower motors. thrust bearing operating temperatures increased to 86oC from 76oC. Leaded bronzes (83% copper.020 MW Akosombo project revealed the inability of the existing thrust bearings to handle the higher hydraulic thrust. Use well-inhibited lubricating oil to avoid corrosion by oxidized oil. Continual monitoring of thrust bearing temperatures indicates good operation of the units. After several unsuccessful attempts to remedy the problem. 1% tin) costs less than tin babbitt. Now. . of Canada to design a new thrust bearing featuring a modified highly-toleranced split rotating ring. After the upgrade. contained six turbine-generating units with a total capacity of 912 MW. This reduced the high temperatures to an average of 82oC. 1% arsenic. 15% antimony. Hydro Tech decided to improve load capacity of the bearing pads by replacing them with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) pads. The first four units. In the mid-1990s. This upgrade increased station efficiency and capacity. Thus. contributing to rare recurring cavitation damage on the generator thrust bearings. The new design increased hydraulic thrust while operating at the same flows as the previous runner.
After this modification. Canada-based Hatch. toward the trailing end of the bearing pad. Volta River Authority contacted the bearing OEM to study the problem and offer an appropriate solution. The Unit 3 thrust bearings failed while the unit was operating in April 2002. The OEM carried out a bearing optimization study at its own cost and recommended a revised support spring arrangement to increase the oil film thickness.Discovering the thrust bearing problem Before the new runners were installed at Akosombo. the average thrust bearing operating temperature for Unit 3 dropped to 82oC. The damage was mostly concentrated within and around the high-pressure oil injection groove ring. During commissioning of the upgraded unit in July 2000. Volta River Authority and its consultant. the OEM assured them that the thrust bearing was capable of supporting the new levels of thrust loading. Even though other circumstances were involved. This resulted in a total of 40 support springs as compared to the original 51 springs per bearing pad. such as irregular cooling water flows. raised concerns about the possibility of increased thrust load and the ability of the existing bearings to match this load. a new problem of rather rapidly recurring cavitation damage became obvious on the thrust pad surfaces. the first to be overhauled at Akosombo. operated with an average thrust bearing temperature of 76oC before the upgrade. However.020 MW Akosombo Generating Station have reduced unit operating temperatures to acceptable levels. therefore providing more reliable bearing operation with reduced temperature. The OEM implemented this solution by removing 11 support springs. Although thrust bearing operating temperatures were now reduced. this failure again raised concerns about the existing thrust bearings. This cavitation damage was first discovered during an inspection six weeks after installation. confirming increased thrust load associated with installation of the new runner. mainly from the leading edge end of the thrust bearing. this temperature increased to an average of 86oC. The new polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) bearing pads being installed on the six units at the 1. Unit 3. after almost 20 months of service. Monitoring was carried out while the retrofit project was under way. .
07 MPa. This results from a step in the babbitted surface and a gap between the thrust bearing runner plate segments. Crowning occurs because the babbitt expands and contracts at a different coefficient of expansion to steel. the oil film between the babbitt thrust bearing pads and runner plate decreases. With the increased thrust. the highest measured average bearing pressure is about 4. but there are higher and lower pressures on the bearing surface. Thermal ratcheting is caused by temperature changes on the bearing surface. Developing a solution Volta River Authority.) When bolted together. while average pressure rises. thus eliminating pressure disturbances that can cause cavitation damage to the bearings. This port is where the most significant pressure drop occurs because of the change in oil film thickness and/or pressure. At Akosombo. met with the OEM for a permanent solution to the Akosombo thrust bearing problem. is a higher load area. During a thrust bearing inspection performed in August 2008. and the surface of the bearing pad is hotter than the steel backing plate to which the babbitt is bonded. which causes the babbitt bearing pad to act as a bi-metal strip.Cavitation of thrust bearing pads is unusual and typically is caused by a design flaw. The OEM s preferred solution was to install a new one-piece . The OEM experimented with several modifications by machining different tapers and shapes within the high-pressure oil lift groove ring. (The thicker the babbitt. slightly bending the bearing pad and causing crowning. working with Hatch. resulting in cavitation pitting of the pads. These unusual bearing pad damages became a greater concern to Volta River Authority and its contractors as cavitation and thermal ratcheting progressed steadily. the middle of the bearing pad surface toward the trailing edge. This increases the pressure drop at the thrust bearing runner plate split and increases its effect on the babbitt due to close proximity. Generally. It became obvious that initial concerns about the ability of the bearings to safely support increased thrust load associated with the new replacement runners were valid. the stronger the thermal ratcheting effect. evidence of fatigue failure of the babbitt surfaces was discovered. likely due to thermal effects (a condition known as thermal ratcheting ). close to the high-pressure oil lift port. but the problem persisted. the new runner plate on this Akosombo unit features no gaps or splits.
rotating ring. eventually forming a one-piece thrust bearing rotating ring that was bolted to the thrust block. The results again indicated that total thrust on the units was above the safe operating limit of babbitt bearings. which are keyed and bolted together to ensure no gaps. The new thrust bearing runner plate acts as a solid one-piece ring. . At that time. This type of joining was achieved during installation. Volta River Authority contracted Hydro Tech to modify the Akosombo generator thrust bearing assembly to deal with the recurring cavitation problem. removing another potential source for cavitation. Solving the design flaw The solution Hydro Tech provided to address sudden pressure fluctuations caused by gaps at the splits of the existing rotating rings was a modified design of highly-toleranced segmented rotating rings. Lowering the operating temperature The PTFE bearing has one-fifth the coefficient of friction compared with the existing system.Solve the design flaw that was causing the cavitation on the thrust pad surfaces. preventing excess heating of the thrust oil. But because of the prolonged outage time involved with this approach (at least three months) and the fact that the thrust load might still be above the safe load-carrying capacity of the existing babbitt thrust pads.Lower operating temperatures. an approach that involved completely removing the generator rotor. Volta River Authority did not accept this solution. it was considered to be a result of porosity in the babbitt. Full head pond thrust measurements could not be taken because the pond does not completely fill each year. . The splits were lapped (stoned) to completely eliminate sharp ends. Before the turbine upgrade. Using the PTFE bearing pads also allowed Hydro Tech to eliminate the high-pressure oil lift system. PTFE bearing pads with higher load capacity were installed to replace the traditional babbitt bearings. This allows the thrust bearing temperature to be lowered with no additional cooling. All parties fundamentally attributed this problem to the increased hydraulic thrust load of the new turbine runner. Increasing thrust load Hydro Tech first measured thrust loads on the units to inform the design of the new PTFE thrust pads. providing constant pressure on the bearing pads over its entire surface. Objectives of the Akosombo generator thrust bearin g retrofit were to: .Address the fact that the thrust load of the new runners was above the safe load limit of the existing thrust bearings. The new PTFE thrust pads for Akosombo feature compound tapers at the leading edge to facilitate oil flow and wedge formation. the original bearing was already susceptible to cavitation due to gaps in the runner plate quadrants. . Thrust was as high as 4. as well as pad eccentricity to permit higher specific load capacity.07 MPa at a headwater elevation of 247 ft (75 meters) above sea level (maximum headwater level at Akosombo is 278 ft (285 meters) above sea level). there was at least one incident of cavitation damage discovered on a bearing pad. and. Actual maximum thrust load increases as the headwater level rises. However.
Results With installation of the new thrust bearings on Units 2 and 5. Bearings on the remaining units will be changed as soon as an outage time is available. The bearing pads were inspected after several months of running time and appeared to be in good condition. all problems that resulted in higher operating temperatures have been resolved. .
the contractor Reclamation selected for the turbine replacement. The contract was awarded for all five main units at Shasta. The use of Reclamation staff has resulted in some remarkable innovations. In 2007. the U. designed in a segmented style. and parts were staged throughout the plant. from the pilot exciter down to the draft tube. Normal practice was to completely tear down the unit. determined that the turbine assembly efficiency could be improved by replacing the turbine. had a history of failures and seizures.S. Seal rings. The Shasta turbine replacement involved installation of new stationary seal rings. Personnel developed a device that would allow the seal rings to be in the turbine pit with the headcover and boring bar installed. wicket gates. then install the upper seal ring on the power plant deck. thus increasing the thrust bearing load. For those units that had already been rewound by Alstom. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation needed a method to quickly and efficiently replace the stationary seal rings. significantly reduced the outage time during a recent unit overhaul. Developing the device Reclamation owns 83 hydroelectric plants. Once the rewind was completed. this overhaul also included a full stator rewind. For the most part. reduce the water that either bypasses the turbine blades or applies force to the top of the turbine. Reclamation uses its own staff to assemble and disassemble the 131 turbine-generator units in its plants. This device was used on the final three of the five units overhauled at this plant and reduced total outage time by several hundred man-hours. and operating linkages. much like the new Shasta seal rings. invert it. This new design would require that the seal rings be installed with an interference fit to the headcover and discharge ring. and a work platform was erected above it for the generator rewind. . on the Upper Sacramento River in California. In particular. For two of the five units at Shasta. Original plant maintenance practices relied almost exclusively on the plant main gantry crane to remove the generator and turbine components during disassembly and reassembly. Alstom redesigned the seal rings for the Shasta units into a continuous style. The five units at Shasta feature vertical shaft generators. Traditionally. Figure 1 shows the design and location of typical seal rings. This was needed because the original seal rings. Then the lower guide bearing bracket was reinstalled. the practice would be to remove the headcover. The seal rings then were installed and machined while the contractor worked on the stator rewind overhead. The headcover and boring bar would be installed and the two rings turned to the final dimension. these units were disassembled from the top down. Reclamation staff finished the complete replacement of the second Shasta turbine assembly. The lower seal ring would be installed separately in the discharge ring. also called wear rings. one such innovation at the Shasta plant. Alstom. the work platform and lower guide bearing bracket would be removed.Sticky Wickets: Seal Ring Installation Device Shortens Outage Time during an Overhaul During the recent overhaul of its 663-MW Shasta plant.
Personnel at the 663-MW Shasta plant prepare to use a specially-designed device to install the upper seal ring in one of the turbine pits. which requires the installation of a boring bar that would rely on the headcover for its upper support. Replacing the seal rings in three units with the headcover and boring bar installed reduced total outage time by several hundred man-hours. Boughton sketched out his idea. the seal rings would need to be machined. Once installed. Once plant personnel removed the work platform for the rewind. The idea turned out to be very beneficial when Alstom personnel worked on the stator for Units 1 and 2. Owing to his other duties. the new seal rings normally would have to be lowered into the turbine pit and installed. . performed in 2002. the two seal rings could be installed and machined in one set without having to either turn the headcover upside down or remove the headcover. a plant mechanic named John Boughton had the idea that the seal rings could be in the turbine pit with the headcover and boring bar installed. Boughton was not able to fully develop the design. In preparation for the turbine replacement for Unit 4. In this situation.
Martin altered the design. The device featured six bolted segments. With that change. The device Martin designed could accommodate two different upper and lower seal ring diameters and ensured the seal rings could be centered and measured for the proper fit. including the final two unit rewinds and turbine replacements. moved ahead with the concept and designed the device. with two long elements roughly equal to the diameter of the smallest seal ring. John Martin took the lead in the evolution of the device. A bolt through the block was reduced in size from the original design and now used only to center the ring. The device needed to be designed so that it could be assembled under the headcover and would support the seal rings in preparation for installation. During fabrication of the device in 2002.000 in savings due to reduced labor costs alone. This equates to about $40. John Martin.Another plant mechanic. another set of dry ice trays had to be fabricated. the seal rings were supported by six bolts that would be threaded through a gusset welded to the end of a 13-inch-long channel that was 2 inches wide by 4 inches deep. owing the different radius. This plate would be used to support the seal ring. who continue to encourage this sort of drive and innovation. The device is particularly suited for power plants with larger turbine diameters and similarlydesigned units. Using the new device This device was used on all Shasta units. credit should be given to the management personnel in the Shasta office. This arrangement also would support an internal micrometer to measure the change in diameter of the seal ring. The device resembled a twin-arm bearing bracket. With this design. The design relies on the symmetry of the bracket to rotate the support plate end for end. and four more (perpendicular to the two long elements) extended the line of the two separating elements to form a symmetrical cross. The device had to fit around the boring bar. the other-diameter seal ring could be installed. Unfortunately. Finally. move the plate to the opposite arm. . Figure 2 shows the final design of the device inside a cross-section of a discharge ring and the lower seal ring. This device can be adapted to any unit that is undergoing seal ring replacement during a rewind. Reclamation personnel estimate that the device reduced the outage time by several hundred man-hours compared with installing the new seal rings after the rewind was completed. One final note: The device was improved on several times during its evolution. The entire Shasta maintenance and engineering staff undoubtedly contributed and should be recognized. All the elements were made of 2-by-6-inch channel and featured bolted joints. The entire assembly could be removed through the scroll case access hatches once both seal rings were installed. which was centered in order to machine the seal ring to the final dimension. assisted by John Hays. This design contained a 3-inch gap for dry ice to shrink the diameter of the seal ring. but the ideas and suggestions provided by others that resulted in further improvements were not recorded. and reverse the jack bolt. to replace the 13-inch-long channel with a flat plate and threaded block. One particular benefit is that the smaller-diameter seal ring could be installed with little modification of the device. Two of these segments separated the long elements.
the Unit 3 runner at the 2. By about 5:11 a. the unit was rebuilt and back on line in 14 months. to 84. respectively. Power output returned to 254 MW at 5:06:27 a.M. This failure resulted in significant damage to the runner and water passage components. as well as implementing a novel approach to repair the damaged wicket gates. Through the use of innovative repair methods. 2008. Using these innovations. How and why the unit failed The failure event began at 5:05 a. Shrum Unit 3 to Service When a major failure occurred in Unit 3 at G.Repairing a Failed Turbine: The Story of Returning G. Because of the importance of Unit 3 at G. began operating in 1968 with ten turbine-generating units.730-MW G. Together.. Shrum. the servomotors had reached 97. one of the largest hydro plants in Canada. Units 9 and 10 were installed in 1974 and 1980.M. no matter the unit size. On March 2.2 . BC Hydro's objective was to get the machine back on line as quickly as possible. The servomotors began moving open. BC Hydro was able to return Unit 3 to service in just 14 months.730-MW plant is an example of the innovation and technical expertise abounding in the North American hydro market . Shrum.3 percent from 71.m. and operation of the unit ceased until repair work could be performed. The repair at this 2.m.. BC Hydro implemented a plan to get it back on line as quickly as possible.M. these five units represent 12 percent of BC Hydro's electricity-producing capacity. This plan involved rebuilding the runner by using a new blade design and reusing the existing crown and band.M. BC Hydro's largest facility. 2008.. Shrum Generating Station experienced a major failure. Units 1 to 5 were installed in 1968 and 1969 and have a capacity of 261 MW each.M. when unit output dropped to 237 MW from 254 MW. on March 2.3 percent. Shrum. These Francis turbine runners are fully cast from mild carbon steel and have a stainless steel overlay for cavitation protection. G. and have a capacity of 300 MW each. Units 6 to 8 were installed in 1971 and upgraded in 2004 and have a capacity of 275 MW each.m.
m. In addition. Between about 5:21 and 5:22 a. downstream of the seal contact line. Runner blades 4. On all 20 of these gates. at about 5:14 a.7 percent higher than nominal. turbine bearing temperature reached 129. and in the draft tube. The pattern of the damage was indicative of pieces of metal becoming caught in the wicket gate/runner cascade while the turbine was rotating. the damage was localized at 12 inches above the bottom facing plate (the same elevation as the trailing edge damage on wicket gates 1 to 10 and 15 to 24).9 percent speed because the wickets gates were no longer able to regulate the flow of water through the turbine. However. At about 5:22 a. the trailing edges of wicket gates 11 to 14 were in good condition. BC Hydro personnel performed a unit assessment. Output then settled at 55 MW.. had deep gouges on up to 75 percent of the surface. Then. with no impact damage. with no change in power output. On "moderately" damaged inlet edges. the skin plate on the suction side. the unit reached 133. Turbine bearing temperature began climbing rapidly. with power output of 262 MW.m. Turbine synchronous vibration increased again. The trailing edges of wicket gates 1 to 10 and 15 to 24 were bent due to impact. The inlet edge of all 17 runner blades had impact and heavy abrasion damage. However. stuck between adjacent blades.4 degrees Celsius (C).m. as well as subsequent inspections throughout the disassembly process: The scroll case and stay vanes were free of damage from impact or abrasion. significant cracks were visible on 12 of the blades. At 5:19:30 a.2 percent open.m. power output increased to 258 MW.m. and 14 were missing significant pieces (about 70 inches by 70 inches) from the outlet. Turbine bearing temperature and synchronous vibration began increasing. and no residual debris was found in the scroll case. the impact pattern and location of the damage were the same (about 12 inches above the bottom facing plate).. 11. Finally. many smaller runner blade pieces (8 inches by 8 inches) were found in the runner/wicket gate cascade. In the days after the failure event. . Below are results of this assessment. power output dropped to 247 MW before settling at 252 MW. the servomotors moved to 93 percent open from 97.m. and turbine inlet pressure stabilized at a value 3. and one piece was found intact in the draft tube. Two minutes after that. power output plummeted to 13 MW. without servomotor movement. The shapes of these missing pieces were almost identical. the unit stopped.. There was no indication of material or debris having traveled down the scroll case or passed through the stay vanes. at about 5:39 a. the operator tripped the unit and power output dropped to 0 MW... At 5:28:30 a.percent open. In addition. One minute later. The skin plate on the pressure side of all 24 wicket gates was in good condition..
resulting in rapid closing of the wicket gate. and all other pins failing due to shear overload. Both wicket gates assumed an almost closed position. breaking its shear pin. this element would experience cyclical bending and torsional forces due to increased clearances between the pin and bushing. just 11 months after the failure. . The lever of wicket gate 11 then contacted the lever of wicket gate 12. pin 13 failing due to bending at a high rate of strain.M. All shear pins had failed.The Unit 3 runner at 2. Shrum suffered significant damage during a failure event. indicating that rubbing had taken place with the runner band. lubrication issues. Wicket gate 13 closed and its lever contacted that of gate 14. Thus. Shear pin 11 functions as a shear pin and link pin. misalignments in the operating mechanism. breaking its shear pin. The governor then instructed the servomotors to increase the wicket gate opening to maintain power output and to respond to an increased demand for power.730-MW G. the shear pin on wicket gate 11 failed due to fatigue. In this scenario.730-MW G. with pin 11 failing due to fatigue. including a large piece missing (see arrow) from the inlet edge of one of the runner blades The area between wicket gates 11 to 14 contained a carbon steel deposit on the stainless steel lower seal ring. the shear pin on gate 13 failed. Shortly after the servomotor reached its maximum opening. BC Hydro concluded that the most likely failure mode was a cascade closure of four adjacent wicket gates due to shear pin failure. The repaired Unit 3 runner for 2. Shrum was delivered to the facility in February 2009. and interference between the lever and mechanical stop on the head cover.M.
the repair cycle time was reduced to nine months. The stresses on the runner caused new cracks and accelerated existing cracks. For the wicket gate repair. 70 plate steel instead of stainless steel. made of welded carbon steel plates. The wicket gates are of the hollow fabricated type. Additionally. The body is made of two formed 1. Some wicket gates also showed deformations of the suction side . This plate steel was a stock item readily available from a warehouse. BC Hydro issued a request for proposals to these suppliers. BC Hydro issued a notice to proceed to Voith Hydro for repair of the Unit 3 turbine. and a lowpressure zone was created behind those gates. whereas the stainless steel would require a special delivery. 2008. No model testing was performed. Choosing the repair method On March 13. Proposals were received on March 31. the top and bottom end of each gate body is overlaid with 17-7 stainless steel.625 inch deep over its entire surface. Additionally. the new blades were designed using only finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). A time frame of seven months was foreseen for this work. 2008. breaking the remaining shear pins. and 14. Voith Hydro chose to fabricate the new blades using A516 Gr. BC Hydro personnel discovered that the damage on the wicket gates was extensive. However. Thus.With four wicket gates closed. As the blades broke apart. On April 15. BC Hydro determined that the solution offered by Voith Hydro was the best for its business needs. and cost aspects of each proposal. the new blade design had to fit within the existing crown and band water passageway. To expedite the repair. The suction side of the hydraulic surface showed scores in the range of 0. For example. 11. The nose contact face is equipped with a rubber strip to obtain a tight seal when closed. one piece was discharged into the draft tube and two were ejected into the wicket gate/runner cascade. held in place with a stainless steel clamp plate and patch bolts. each supplier was to describe its repair method for each turbine component. with a minimum service life of ten years. This turbine is scheduled to be upgraded in 2017 as part of the G. Thus. On March 20. the main goal was to retrieve the functionality of the gates. This removed the long lead time for crown and band castings. The runner was forced toward the low pressure until contact occurred between the runner band and lower seal ring.75-inch-thick plates with an internal rib welded on the suction and pressure side plates.M. Once the unit was dismantled. which would have added about one year to the schedule. Shrum Units 1 to 5 Turbine Upgrade Project. The head cover and bottom ring also feature wicket gate end seals so the distributor is watertight when closed. Voith Hydro proposed to reuse the crown and band and supply new blades. water flow in the scroll case became unbalanced. schedule. including leaving locations for the thrust relief holes and space to install new rotating wearing rings on the outside diameter. To further reduce the time required for the repair. In its proposal. resulting in failure of blades 4. slamming the remaining wicket gates closed. The runner repair was the most time-intensive work needed to get the turbine operational. the goal of the repair work was to return Unit 3 to commercial operation as quickly as possible. the decision to reuse the crown and band with a new blade design presented challenges. After reviewing the technical. and further damaging the runner blades and wicket gates. including the cost and expected duration. BC Hydro invited three turbine suppliers to view the damaged turbine.
the crown required about 1.. Voith Hydro personnel then overlaid this area with E309L filler metal.625 inch deep in the area of the junction of the crown and blade discharge area. Runner repair Immediately after the runner was removed from the turbine pit.25-inch-deep cut on the crown and band water passage surfaces. Pa. The two first options were not desirable because they would induce significant distortions due to the welding volume involved. Disassembly activities were completed by the end of May 2008. Voith Hydro personnel performed a magnetic particle inspection. .5 inch would be weld repaired before installing the skin plate. The crown required extensive weld repairs. However. BC Hydro and Voith Hydro determined that the third option was the most viable choice. This area was then subjected to a non-destructive ultrasonic inspection.800 pounds of weld metal. 2008. Making the repairs Voith Hydro began disassembling the unit at the end of April 2008. only two weeks after the contract award. Voith Hydro machined a 0. After completing rough machining on the water passage surfaces. The crown required remachining after the weld repairs and before going to runner assembly. Therefore. Damage deeper than 0.5-inch-thick shaped skin plate. Only cavitation damage and the stainless steel overlay areas needed to be repaired.skin plate. or Mill a 0. Voith Hydro personnel removed the blades. Voith Hydro then shipped the crown and band to its facility in York. Because of the large amount of stainless steel overlay on the crown and band. BC Hydro and Voith Hydro worked together to identify three repair options: Completely replace the skin plate on the suction side. The new blade design took this variation into account. arriving on July 8. Under normal conditions. so Voith Hydro personnel machined away a layer of metal 0. this was not an option. In total. This included overlay and crack and cavitation repairs. Cavitation damage was present immediately downstream of the nose rubber seal and in the vicinity of the stem to blade fillets. leaving only 3 inches of blade protruding from the base metal. The design also incorporated an overlay on the flange face and spigot area to keep the runner centerline at the distributor centerline (relative to the shaft flange face). The band repairs were not as extensive. The band only required about 100 pounds of weld metal and had no major defects. the wicket gates would have been replaced. with cracks through the thickness of the plate. This inspection confirmed that some of the cracking from the damaged blades extended into the crown. Weld overlay and grind the skin plate to restore shape and surface finish. There were four defects exceeding 3 inches in depth and 18 inches long that were repaired with E309L weld metal. Machining on the crown revealed large areas of cavitation damage and stainless steel overlay. due to time constraints.5-inch-deep "pocket" on the suction side and install a new 0.
static stress analysis. and new coupling bolts were installed.5-inch-deep pocket was milled in the 1. Voith Hydro performed a complete FEA. Shop personnel began with a complete examination of the wicket gates to map any cracks and abnormal conditions. Shrum to the shop of a Voith Hydro subcontractor for a complete rehabilitation. Results from the fatigue study indicated that the runner will be reliable for more than ten years. a 0. Wicket gate repair In early June 2008. . The results from these studies were used for a fatigue study. Finally. The completed runner was not post-weld heat treated due to the E309L welding. and dynamic stress analysis. The dynamic analysis was performed to determine the risk of structural resonance in the runner and to evaluate its dynamic response over the range of exciting frequencies experienced during normal operation. Many cracks were repaired on the skin plates and also on the stainless steel overlay at both ends of the wicket gate body. This included a CFD study. restoring a clean and uniform hydraulic shape. With the previous design. The carbon steel plate was secured by means of a peripheral weld in addition to 16 patch bolts. the total area of contact between the blades and crown increased by about 20 percent.75-inch-thick skin plate on the suction side where the gouges and dents were present. the coupling holes were reamed oversized by 0. The replacement runner arrived at the site on February 20.06 inch using a template to match the shaft. Subcontractor personnel then installed a formed and machined carbon steel plate in the pocket. These welds were inspected using non-destructive dye penetrant and ultrasonic methods. The blade-to-crown and blade-to-band welds were made with E309L weld wire.Voith Hydro then completed runner assembly. Afterwards. The wicket gates went through a post-weld heat treatment before machining work began. compared to 17 for the old runner. The new runner has only 15 blades.M. Even with the decrease in number of blades. With the new runner. 2009. both the crown and band rotating seals had been integral. To be confident in the reliability of the repaired runner. material was machined off of these areas to install new shrunk-on rotating seal rings. the wicket gates were shipped from G. This allowed the seals to run true to the shaft spigot after the fabrication processes.
730MW G.This wicket gate from Unit 3 at the 2. it was necessary to re-dowel the gate arm on the wicket gate stem. The rubber seal and its clamp plate also were replaced with new ones. which provided the machining allowance needed to correct stem runouts. Therefore. Finally. two coats of epoxy paint were applied on the hydraulic surfaces. The contact faces of the wicket gate body had been re-machined to restore their parallelism. . The skin plate on the suction side of all 24 wicket gates had deep gouges on up to 75 percent of the metal surface. The remaining rehab work consisted of replacing the stainless steel sleeves with oversized ones.M Shrum plant shows typical damage uncovered after the runner failure.
The weld in the periphery of the new 0. Shrum in January 2009.The wicket gates at 2. Cracks on multiple stay vanes were repaired. and the embedded parts were machined at G. Shrum were repaired by milling a 0.M.75-inch-thick skin plate.5inch-deep pocket in the 1. Shrum to restore an acceptable flatness.5-inch skin plate was sized to restore the inertia of the gate body. . The structural modification of the wicket gates was validated using an extensive FEA model.M. after only seven months of repair work. The contractor then welded and screwed a formed and machined carbon steel plate into the pocket to fill the cavity. head cover.730-MW G. Examination of the head cover showed only a few cracks that were quickly repaired. The wicket gates were returned to G. while the size and number of patch bolts provided for an adequate clamping of the skin plate when subjected to vacuum (worst cases considered). turbine guide bearing.M. Repairing other structures The other structures repaired on Unit 3 include the embedded parts. the geometry of the head cover needed reworking. However. which was accomplished by a Voith Hydro subcontractor. and turbine shaft.
2009. Results On February 20.The turbine guide bearing was heavily damaged. In August 2009. Rehab work consisted of melting the original babbitt. Voith Hydro implemented stainless steel overlay to repair the damage and to mitigate the effect of future cavitation. To date. Included with this review is a reevaluation of BC Hydro's requirements for shear pin breakage monitoring and unit automatic shut down after a broken shear pin. Seven weeks later. and completely re-machining the coupling flanges and inside and outside diameters. the repaired turbine has performed reliably and has met BC Hydro's expectations. 2009. The turbine shaft was shipped to the shop of a Voith Hydro subcontractor for machining of the bearing journal and shaft seal journal surfaces. just 14 months after the failure. As a result of lessons learned from the Unit 3 failure. . Voith Hydro began reassembling the unit. pouring a new coat of babbitt. BC Hydro has reviewed the risk of reoccurrence of this event on all turbines within its generating fleet. the turbine-generator was ready to be commissioned by BC Hydro. Unit 3 was returned to service on May 5. minor cavitation damage was observed on the inlet edge of the runner blades.
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