Industrial Instrumentation Research Journal

August 27, 2014


January 25, 2014

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Instrumentation Documents

April 9, 2013
Every technical discipline has its own standardized way(s) of making descriptive diagrams, and instrumentation is no exception. The scope of instrumentation is so broad, however, that no one form of diagram is sufficient to capture all we might need to represent. This article will discuss different types of instrumentation diagrams and symbology. Click the links below to read the details:

Process Flow Diagrams (PFDs)

Process and Instrument diagrams (P&IDs)

Loop diagrams...

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February 25, 2013

Various Controls in Power Plant


Various controls of Power Plant


1. Flow Control

2. Pressure Control

3. Level Control

4. Temperature Control


Flow Control


The flow control is a fast control. It consists of PI control. The flow control includes


1. Feed water Flow

2. Condensate Flow

3. Combustion Air (PA and SA) Flow

4.  Fuel Flow Controls.

5. CEP Recirculation Flow 


The flow is basically a PI control. Low P and high I will make the control smooth, but the control w...

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January 16, 2013



BASIC CONCEPT -The RF type level switch is basically designed to measure the material kept inside the tank or vessel such as oil, water etc.

The capacitance is formed between the active electrode and the tank wall, this increased capacitance is sensed by a digital circuit to operate a relay

PRINCIPLE OF OPERATION – Capacitance formed between probe rod and wall tank which act as reference or ground.


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December 4, 2012


The aim of drum level control is to maintain the drum level at the centre line of the boiler drum.

The 3 element in this loop are the drum level, the steam flow & the feed water flow. The level is measured by two independents DPT.The stream drum pressure is measured using pressure transmitter PT. The two level signals are corrected for density using the drum pressure signal before the same is used for indication, control & high, low alarm generation.

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November 17, 2012
The design basis report for control & instrumentation seeks to establish the philosophy , salient features, and the proper design criteria for cont & inst.
The purpose of cont & inst system is to provide versatile automation for aiding the operating persons to carry complex jobs, to ensure safe & efficient operation and in the process relieving the operator to great extent.

For easy operation of plant the entire plant is sub categorizes as - 
a. Boilers & auxiliar...
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November 13, 2012
Guide Line to prepare Hook- Up drawings for Field Instrument.
An Instrument Index is a super starting point for any design, it is really a database of all the necessary references which are required in an instrument design.

Tag number, Numbers of the loop drawing, Layout & routing drawing and isometric piping drawing containing the particular control loop component.
Elevations of both the primary control loop component and process connection.
Tagging of mechanical (piping or equipmen...

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November 7, 2012

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November 6, 2012

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November 6, 2012

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August 22, 2012
Dear friends as i told you PPI & C is a vast field to learn,so let us see the protection & control related to thermal power plant
1. Close Loop Control - a) Hotwell Level Control b) CEP re - circulation control c) HPH normal & emergency drain level control, d) Gland steam temp PRDS control , e) Lube oil temp control

2. Governer Control (Wood ward-505)- a) Speed control , b)Load control , c) Frequency control.

3. Boiler Control - a) 3/1-Element Drum level control , b) Temp control for final stem ...
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July 13, 2012

A condenser is a device which condenses the steam at the exhaust of turbine. It serves two important functions.Firstly, it creates a very low ( By liquidation steam at the exhaust of turbine, a region of emptiness is created. This results in a very low pressure at the exhaust of turbine.) pressure at the exhaust of turbine, thus permitting expansion of the steam in the prime mover to very low pressure. This helps converting heat energy of steam into mechanical energy in the prime mover. Secon...

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July 6, 2012
I & C of a power plant is a broad subject that includes online operation of various control loop strategy,start-stop of equipment and start up,shut down process as well as safety interlocks.
The basic objectives of a control is to operate the thermal power station successfully,economically,safely ,reliably and continuously.

Efficient operation of power plant - The objective is to maintain the availability or up-time of the plant maintain the parallel running boiler up-gradation so as ...
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June 26, 2012
In general clasification of instruments in power plant are divided as mechanical instruments which measures parameter like- pressure,flow,level,speed,temp,viscosity,humidity,moisture etc and electrical instruments which measures parameters like- voltage,current,power,energy etc.
classicifacion are also based upon controlling,recording,indicating, & integrating purposes.
1.Temp Measurement - Thermocouples (J,K,R,S,E etc Types) , RTD (pt100,pt1000,jpt500 etc), Liquid fille...
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June 5, 2012
1.INSTRUMENTATION & CONTROL IN WATER PATH-Feed water control,steam flow,drum level-single/three element,impurities in raw water measurement etc
1.INSTRUMENTATION & CONTROL IN FLUE GAS PATH- measurement in temp,level...
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June 4, 2012



1. Select the pipe line to measure the volume flow (inlet straight run should be >=10 DN, and >=5 DN after sensor). In case of vertical pipe flow should be bottom to top.

2. Take the krohne portable kit box with you.

3.    Now find the periphery of the selected pipe.

4.    Find out the outer dia of the selected pipe. (Periphery/π, here π=3.1428).

5.    Now find out the thickness of selected pipe. (Refer design manual).

6.    Next we have to see ...

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June 2, 2012

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June 2, 2012


Governing system is an important control system in the power plant as it regulates the turbinespeed, power and participates in the grid frequency regulation. For starting, loading governingsystem is the main operator interface. Steady state and dynamic performance of the power system depends on the power plant response capabilities in which governing system plays akey role. With the development of electro- hydraulic governors, processing capabilities have been enhanced but sever...

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May 28, 2012

Burner Management Systems


 The following paragraphs outline a general method for implementing a typical boiler Burner Management System (BMS).  Several general guidelines to implement operation strategies for such a system are also provided.

 This document is intended for use by the control systems designer as a guide for basic design.  Final and detailed BMS design is required per the applicable design specifications. The control systems designer is res...

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May 28, 2012

Design Considerations

Pressure sensors convert a physical value - weight, tire pressure, level, force, and flow-into a differential signal in the mV/V range and are referred to as metal thick-film, ceramic or piezo-resistive. The majority of designers use the cost-effective piezo-sensors (25mbar - 25bar) that are nonlinear, temperature dependent and have large offset and offset drift, and require attention for electronic calibration and compensation.

Sensor Signal Conditioning - performs all ne...

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May 28, 2012
Many pneumatic devices use a nozzle and flapper system to give a variation in the compressed air signal.A typical pneumatic control valve is shown in Figure . It can be considered as made up of two parts—the actuator and the valve. In the arrangement shown a flexible diaphragm forms a pressure tight chamber in the upper half of the actuator and the controller signal is fed in.
Movement of the diaphragm results in a movement of the valve spindle and the valve. The diaphragm movement is oppose...

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May 28, 2012

3 Element Strategy
As shown below, most boilers of medium to high pressure today use a “3-element” boiler control strategy. The term “3-element control” refers to the number of process variables (PVs) that are measured to effect control of the boiler feedwater control valve. These measured PVs are:
  ▪ liquid level in the boiler drum,
  ▪ flow of feedwater to the boiler drum, and
  ▪ flow of steam leaving the boiler drum.

Maintaining liquid level in the boiler steam drum is the highe...

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standard operation & calibration process of I TO P Converter

May 27, 2012


Ø  The electro pneumatic signal converter is used as a linking component between electric or electronic and pneumatic system. It converts standard electric signal 0-20mA or 4-20 mA, resp, into the standard pneumatic signal 0.2 – 1.0 bar (3-15 psi/0.2 -1.0kg/cm2).

Ø   It works on the principal that when a current flows through the coil magnetizing the iron core and the respective air pressure when applied is balanced by the magnetic force thus controlling the air press...

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Feedback control

May 26, 2012
Feedback Control 


This concept justifies the use of the word negative in three ways:
• The negative aspect of feeding the measured signal backwards
from the output to the input of the system. (Actual definition of
negative feedback control).
• The control correction must be negative in that a correction
rather than a compounding of error must occur.
• The fact that an error must occur before a correction can take
place, i.e., retrospective or negative control action.
In the next section we will...

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digital transmission

May 25, 2012
Digital transmission has very significant advantages compared with analogue transmission
because the possibility of signal corruption during transmission is greatly
reduced. Many different protocols exist for digital signal transmission, and these are
considered in detail in Chapter 10. However, the protocol that is normally used for
the transmission of data from a measurement sensor or circuit is asynchronous serial
transmission, with other forms of transmission being reserved for use in instrume...

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May 23, 2012

The Woodward CPC-II (current to pressure converter, generation II) is an electrohydraulic pressure-regulating valve control designed for use in positioning single-acting steam turbine valve servos. This CPC's superb accuracy and resolution make it ideal for steam turbine valve control and related turbine speed and load control. The Woodward CPC accepts a 4-20 mA pressure demand signal and accurately controls oil pressure to precisely position single-acting steam turbine governor-valves....

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May 22, 2012


Ø    Metrology is the science of measurement. Metrology includes all theoretical and practical aspects of measurement. Standards are objects or ideas that are designated as being authoritative for some accepted reason. Whatever value they possess is useful for comparison to unknowns for the purpose of establishing or confirming an assigned value based on the standard. The design of this comparison process for measurements is metrology. The execution of ...

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May 22, 2012


Ø  An instrument is a device that measures or manipulates variables such as flow, temperature, level, or pressure. Instruments include many varied contrivances which can be as simple as valves and transmitters, and as complex as analyzers. Instruments often comprise control systems of varied processes. The control of processes is one of the main branches of applied instrumentation.

Ø  Control instrumentation includes devices such as solenoids, valves, circuit...

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A. Electrical Engineer
- HT panel Inspection, testing and commissioning
- LT panel inspection . testing and commissioning
Both the above takes quite a bit of time depending on how well the erection had been made, predominately this is done
- Testing of power cables (if not charged yet)
- Testing of Control system interlocks in the switchgear
- HT Breaker/LTbreaker / MCC module healthiness checking
- Testing of proper feed back in the electrical SCADA system (open/close, power, current, voltage values etc ...)
- Panel Relay setting, inspection and testing
- Testing of CT's PT's and HT gear transducers
- generator and auxiliaries inspection, testing
- Turbine axillary drives testing
- Boiler/HRSG axillary drives testing
- generator control panel testing and commissioning
- ECP or electrical control panel for plant HT and LT switchgear testing and commissioning
- Generator relay panel testing, setting revision and commissioning
- Plant DC system testing and commissioning
- Plant UPS system testing and commissioning
- Generator AVR testing, tuning and commissioning

B. Instrumentation Engineer
- Turbine control system testing, tweaking and commissioning
- Plant DCS system (Boiler and BOP) testing, tweaking and commissioning
- Plant SCADA system (electrical switchgear control) testing and commissioning
All the above work involves more or less the same type of work
- Testing (occasional calibration and replacement) of Plant field instrumentation
- Testing and commissioning of plant control valves (loop checking and ensuring proper feedback)
- Testing commissioning of plant solenoid valves (proper operation and feedback
- Testing and commissioning of plant MOV (with electrical engineer, this by far in my opinion is the most back breaking work and in the quest of complete automation there are literally 50-100 MOV's in each co generation plant, i don't know MOV's and me do not go well )
- Testing and commissioning of plant servo's (a very subtle art :) )
- Testing and calibration of plant measurement circuits, pressure, temperature, flow, speed, position and vibration probes. They also take a lot of time mainly because they form a major quantity of the plant instrumentation.
- Testing and commissioning of plant analyzers, In boilers, it will be PH, silica, conductivity, phosphate, SOx, NOx, CO, unburnt fuel and oxygen analysers. This work as far as i have seen is exclusively done by the vendors. all you have to do is to verify the operation and sign :).
- Testing and tweaking of graphics, minor modifications in consultation with plant operating personnel.
- testing and tweaking of control constants and minor (to sometimes major) logic modifications in application code to the controllers.
- hanging around a lot of time in marshaling units, RTU's, in the field and in front of the controller, thinking, scratching your head and desperately wising to god that atleast this should work.
- Testing and commissioning of other plant systems, which do not form the part of the typical turbine and DCS control. They include
- Turbine and generator CO2 release system
- Plant and Trubine heat sensors and fire detectors panel
- MCP (manual call points) system and associated auxiliaries
- Plant communication system (another exclusive vendor area)

Thermal power station over view

thermal power station is a power plant in which the prime mover is steam driven. Water is heated, turns into steam and spins a steam turbine which drives an electrical generator. After it passes through the turbine, the steam is condensed in a condenser and recycled to where it was heated; this is known as a Rankine cycle. The greatest variation in the design of thermal power stations is due to the different fuel sources. Some prefer to use the term energy center because such facilities convert forms of heat energy into electricity.[1] Some thermal power plants also deliver heat energy for industrial purposes, for district heating, or for desalination of water as well as delivering electrical power. A large part of human CO2emissions comes from fossil fueled thermal power plants; efforts to reduce these outputs are various and widespread.


Introductory overview

Almost all coalnucleargeothermalsolar thermal electric, and waste incineration plants, as well as many natural gas power plants are thermal.Natural gas is frequently combusted in gas turbines as well as boilers. The waste heat from a gas turbine can be used to raise steam, in acombined cycle plant that improves overall efficiency. Power plants burning coal, fuel oil, or natural gas are often called fossil-fuel power plants. Some biomass-fueled thermal power plants have appeared also. Non-nuclear thermal power plants, particularly fossil-fueled plants, which do not use co-generation are sometimes referred to as conventional power plants.

Commercial electric utility power stations are usually constructed on a large scale and designed for continuous operation. Electric power plants typically use three-phase electrical generators to produce alternating current (AC) electric power at a frequency of 50 Hz or 60 Hz. Large companies or institutions may have their own power plants to supply heating or electricity to their facilities, especially if steam is created anyway for other purposes. Steam-driven power plants have been used in various large ships, but are now usually used in large naval ships. Shipboard power plants usually directly couple the turbine to the ship's propellers through gearboxes. Power plants in such ships also provide steam to smaller turbines driving electric generators to supply electricity. Shipboard steam power plants can be either fossil fuel or nuclear. Nuclear marine propulsion is, with few exceptions, used only in naval vessels. There have been perhaps about a dozen turbo-electric ships in which a steam-driven turbine drives an electric generator which powers an electric motor for propulsion.

combined heat and power (CH&P) plants, often called co-generation plants, produce both electric power and heat for process heat or space heating. Steam and hot water lose energy when piped over substantial distance, so carrying heat energy by steam or hot water is often only worthwhile within a local area, such as a ship, industrial plant, or district heating of nearby buildings.


Reciprocating steam engines have been used for mechanical power sources since the 18th Century, with notable improvements being made by James Watt. The very first commercial central electrical generating stations in the Pearl Street Station, New York and the Holborn Viaduct power station, London, in 1882, also used reciprocating steam engines. The development of the steam turbine allowed larger and more efficient central generating stations to be built. By 1892 it was considered as an alternative to reciprocating engines [2] Turbines offered higher speeds, more compact machinery, and stable speed regulation allowing for parallel synchronous operation of generators on a common bus. Turbines entirely replaced reciprocating engines in large central stations after about 1905. The largest reciprocating engine-generator sets ever built were completed in 1901 for the Manhattan Elevated Railway. Each of seventeen units weighed about 500 tons and was rated 6000 kilowatts; a contemporary turbine-set of similar rating would have weighed about 20% as much.[3]



The energy efficiency of a conventional thermal power station, considered as salable energy as a percent of the heating value of the fuel consumed, is typically 33% to 48%. This efficiency is limited as all heat engines are governed by the laws ofthermodynamics. The rest of the energy must leave the plant in the form of heat. This waste heat can go through a condenserand be disposed of with cooling water or in cooling towers. If the waste heat is instead utilized for district heating, it is called co-generation. An important class of thermal power station are associated with desalination facilities; these are typically found in desert countries with large supplies of natural gas and in these plants, freshwater production and electricity are equally important co-products.

The Carnot efficiency dictates that higher efficiencies can be attained by increasing the temperature of the steam. Sub-critical fossil fuel power plants can achieve 36–40% efficiency. Super critical designs have efficiencies in the low to mid 40% range, with new "ultra critical" designs using pressures of 4400 psi (30.3 MPa) and multiple stage reheat reaching about 48% efficiency. Above the critical point for water of 705 °F (374 °C) and 3212 psi (22.06 MPa), there is no phase transition from water to steam, but only a gradual decrease in density.

Current nuclear power plants must operate below the temperatures and pressures that coal-fired plants do, since the pressurized vessel is very large and contains the entire bundle of nuclear fuel rods. The size of the reactor limits the pressure that can be reached. This, in turn, limits their thermodynamic efficiency to 30–32%. Some advanced reactor designs being studied, such as the Very high temperature reactorAdvanced gas-cooled reactor and Super critical water reactor, would operate at temperatures and pressures similar to current coal plants, producing comparable thermodynamic efficiency.

Electricity cost

The direct cost of electric energy produced by a thermal power station is the result of cost of fuel, capital cost for the plant, operator labour, maintenance, and such factors as ash handling and disposal. Indirect, social or environmental costs such as the economic value of environmental impacts, or environmental and health effects of the complete fuel cycle and plant decommissioning, are not usually assigned to generation costs for thermal stations in utility practice, but may form part of an environmental impact assessment.

Diagram of a typical coal-fired thermal power station


Typical diagram of a coal-fired thermal power station

1. Cooling tower

10. Steam Control valve

19. Superheater

2. Cooling water pump

11. High pressure steam turbine

20. Forced draught (draft) fan

3. transmission line (3-phase)

12. Deaerator

21. Reheater

4. Step-up transformer (3-phase)

13. Feedwater heater

22. Combustion air intake

5. Electrical generator (3-phase)

14. Coal conveyor

23. Economiser

6. Low pressure steam turbine

15. Coal hopper

24. Air preheater

7. Condensate pump

16. Coal pulverizer

25. Precipitator

8. Surface condenser

17. Boiler steam drum

26. Induced draught (draft) fan

9. Intermediate pressure steam turbine

18. Bottom ash hopper

27. Flue gas stack

For units over about 200 MW capacity, redundancy of key components is provided by installing duplicates of the forced and induced draft fans, air preheaters, and fly ash collectors. On some units of about 60 MW, two boilers per unit may instead be provided.

Boiler and steam cycle

In fossil-fueled power plants, steam generator refers to a furnace that burns the fossil fuel to boil water to generate steam.

In the nuclear plant field, steam generator refers to a specific type of large heat exchanger used in a pressurized water reactor (PWR) to thermally connect the primary (reactor plant) and secondary (steam plant) systems, which generates steam. In a nuclear reactor called a boiling water reactor (BWR), water is boiled to generate steam directly in the reactor itself and there are no units called steam generators.

In some industrial settings, there can also be steam-producing heat exchangers called heat recovery steam generators (HRSG) which utilize heat from some industrial process. The steam generating boiler has to produce steam at the high purity, pressure and temperature required for the steam turbine that drives the electrical generator.

Geothermal plants need no boiler since they use naturally occurring steam sources. Heat exchangers may be used where the geothermal steam is very corrosive or contains excessive suspended solids.

A fossil fuel steam generator includes an economizer, a steam drum, and the furnace with its steam generating tubes and superheater coils. Necessary safety valves are located at suitable points to avoid excessive boiler pressure. The air and flue gas path equipment include: forced draft (FD) fanAir Preheater (AP), boiler furnace, induced draft (ID) fan, fly ash collectors (electrostatic precipitator or baghouse) and the flue gas stack.

Feed water heating and deaeration

The feed water used in the steam boiler is a means of transferring heat energy from the burning fuel to the mechanical energy of the spinning steam turbine. The total feed water consists of recirculated condensate water and purified makeup water. Because the metallic materials it contacts are subject to corrosion at high temperatures and pressures, the makeup water is highly purified before use. A system of water softeners and ion exchange demineralizers produces water so pure that it coincidentally becomes an electrical insulator, with conductivity in the range of 0.3–1.0 microsiemens per centimeter. The makeup water in a 500 MWe plant amounts to perhaps 20 US gallons per minute (1.25 L/s) to offset the small losses from steam leaks in the system.

The feed water cycle begins with condensate water being pumped out of the condenser after traveling through the steam turbines. The condensate flow rate at full load in a 500 MW plant is about 6,000 US gallons per minute (400 L/s).


The water flows through a series of six or seven intermediate feed water heaters, heated up at each point with steam extracted from an appropriate duct on the turbines and gaining temperature at each stage. Typically, the condensate plus the makeup water then flows through a deaerator that removes dissolved air from the water, further purifying and reducing its corrosiveness. The water may be dosed following this point with hydrazine, a chemical that removes the remaining oxygen in the water to below 5 parts per billion (ppb). It is also dosed with pH control agents such as ammonia or morpholine to keep the residual acidity low and thus non-corrosive.

Boiler operation

The boiler is a rectangular furnace about 50 feet (15 m) on a side and 130 feet (40 m) tall. Its walls are made of a web of high pressure steel tubes about 2.3 inches (58 mm) in diameter.

Pulverized coal is air-blown into the furnace from fuel nozzles at the four corners and it rapidly burns, forming a large fireball at the center. The thermal radiation of the fireball heats the water that circulates through the boiler tubes near the boiler perimeter. The water circulation rate in the boiler is three to four times the throughput and is typically driven by pumps. As the water in the boiler circulates it absorbs heat and changes into steam at 700 °F (370 °C) and 3,200 psi (22,000 kPa). It is separated from the water inside a drum at the top of the furnace. The saturated steam is introduced into superheat pendant tubes that hang in the hottest part of the combustion gases as they exit the furnace. Here the steam is superheated to 1,000 °F (540 °C) to prepare it for the turbine.

Plants designed for lignite (brown coal) are increasingly used in locations as varied as GermanyVictoria, Australia and North Dakota. Lignite is a much younger form of coal than black coal. It has a lower energy density than black coal and requires a much larger furnace for equivalent heat output. Such coals may contain up to 70% water and ash, yielding lower furnace temperatures and requiring larger induced-draft fans. The firing systems also differ from black coal and typically draw hot gas from the furnace-exit level and mix it with the incoming coal in fan-type mills that inject the pulverized coal and hot gas mixture into the boiler.

Plants that use gas turbines to heat the water for conversion into steam use boilers known as heat recovery steam generators (HRSG). The exhaust heat from the gas turbines is used to make superheated steam that is then used in a conventional water-steam generation cycle, as described in gas turbine combined-cycle plants section below.

Boiler furnace and steam drum

Once water inside the boiler or steam generator, the process of adding the latent heat of vaporization or enthalpy is underway. The boiler transfers energy to the water by the chemical reaction of burning some type of fuel.

The water enters the boiler through a section in the convection pass called the economizer. From the economizer it passes to the steam drum. Once the water enters the steam drum it goes down to the lower inlet water wall headers. From the inlet headers the water rises through the water walls and is eventually turned into steam due to the heat being generated by the burners located on the front and rear water walls (typically). As the water is turned into steam/vapor in the water walls, the steam/vapor once again enters the steam drum. The steam/vapor is passed through a series of steam and water separators and then dryers inside the steam drum. The steam separators and dryers remove water droplets from the steam and the cycle through the water walls is repeated. This process is known as natural circulation.

The boiler furnace auxiliary equipment includes coal feed nozzles and igniter guns, soot blowers, water lancing and observation ports (in the furnace walls) for observation of the furnace interior. Furnace explosions due to any accumulation of combustible gases after a trip-out are avoided by flushing out such gases from the combustion zone before igniting the coal.

The steam drum (as well as the super heater coils and headers) have air vents and drains needed for initial start up. The steam drum has internal devices that removes moisture from the wet steam entering the drum from the steam generating tubes. The dry steam then flows into the super heater coils.


Fossil fuel power plants can have a superheater and/or re-heater section in the steam generating furnace. In a fossil fuel plant, after the steam is conditioned by the drying equipment inside the steam drum, it is piped from the upper drum area into tubes inside an area of the furnace known as the superheater, which has an elaborate set up of tubing where the steam vapor picks up more energy from hot flue gases outside the tubing and its temperature is now superheated above the saturation temperature. The superheated steam is then piped through the main steam lines to the valves before the high pressure turbine.

Nuclear-powered steam plants do not have such sections but produce steam at essentially saturated conditions. Experimental nuclear plants were equipped with fossil-fired super heaters in an attempt to improve overall plant operating cost.

Steam condensing

The condenser condenses the steam from the exhaust of the turbine into liquid to allow it to be pumped. If the condenser can be made cooler, the pressure of the exhaust steam is reduced and efficiency of the cycle increases.


The surface condenser is a shell and tube heat exchanger in which cooling water is circulated through the tubes.[5][9][10][11] The exhaust steam from the low pressure turbine enters the shell where it is cooled and converted to condensate (water) by flowing over the tubes as shown in the adjacent diagram. Such condensers use steam ejectors or rotary motor-driven exhausters for continuous removal of air and gases from the steam side to maintain vacuum.

For best efficiency, the temperature in the condenser must be kept as low as practical in order to achieve the lowest possible pressure in the condensing steam. Since the condenser temperature can almost always be kept significantly below 100 °C where the vapor pressure of water is much less than atmospheric pressure, the condenser generally works under vacuum. Thus leaks of non-condensible air into the closed loop must be prevented.

Typically the cooling water causes the steam to condense at a temperature of about 35 °C (95 °F) and that creates an absolute pressure in the condenser of about 2–7 kPa (0.59–2.1 inHg), i.e. a vacuum of about −95 kPa (−28.1 inHg) relative to atmospheric pressure. The large decrease in volume that occurs when water vapor condenses to liquid creates the low vacuum that helps pull steam through and increase the efficiency of the turbines.

The limiting factor is the temperature of the cooling water and that, in turn, is limited by the prevailing average climatic conditions at the power plant's location (it may be possible to lower the temperature beyond the turbine limits during winter, causing excessive condensation in the turbine). Plants operating in hot climates may have to reduce output if their source of condenser cooling water becomes warmer; unfortunately this usually coincides with periods of high electrical demand for air conditioning.

The condenser generally uses either circulating cooling water from a cooling tower to reject waste heat to the atmosphere, or once-through water from a river, lake or ocean.


A Marley mechanical induced draft cooling tower

The heat absorbed by the circulating cooling water in the condenser tubes must also be removed to maintain the ability of the water to cool as it circulates. This is done by pumping the warm water from the condenser through either natural draft, forced draft or induced draft cooling towers (as seen in the image to the right) that reduce the temperature of the water by evaporation, by about 11 to 17 °C (20 to 30 °F)—expelling waste heat to the atmosphere. The circulation flow rate of the cooling water in a 500 MW unit is about 14.2 m³/s (500 ft³/s or 225,000 US gal/min) at full load.[12]

The condenser tubes are made of brass or stainless steel to resist corrosion from either side. Nevertheless they may become internally fouled during operation by bacteria or algae in the cooling water or by mineral scaling, all of which inhibit heat transfer and reduce thermodynamic efficiency. Many plants include an automatic cleaning system that circulates sponge rubber balls through the tubes to scrub them clean without the need to take the system off-line.


The cooling water used to condense the steam in the condenser returns to its source without having been changed other than having been warmed. If the water returns to a local water body (rather than a circulating cooling tower), it is tempered with cool 'raw' water to prevent thermal shock when discharged into that body of water.

Another form of condensing system is the air-cooled condenser. The process is similar to that of a radiator and fan. Exhaust heat from the low pressure section of a steam turbine runs through the condensing tubes, the tubes are usually finned and ambient air is pushed through the fins with the help of a large fan. The steam condenses to water to be reused in the water-steam cycle. Air-cooled condensers typically operate at a higher temperature than water-cooled versions. While saving water, the efficiency of the cycle is reduced (resulting in more carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity).

From the bottom of the condenser, powerful condensate pumps recycle the condensed steam (water) back to the water/steam cycle.


Power plant furnaces may have a reheater section containing tubes heated by hot flue gases outside the tubes. Exhaust steam from the high pressure turbine is passed through these heated tubes to collect more energy before driving the intermediate and then low pressure turbines.

Air path

External fans re provided to give sufficient air for combustion. The Primary air fan takes air from the atmosphere and, first warming it in the air preheater for better combustion, injects it via the air nozzles on the furnace wall.

The induced draft fan assists the FD fan by drawing out combustible gases from the furnace, maintaining a slightly negative pressure in the furnace to avoid backfiring through any closing.

Steam turbine generator


Rotor of a modern steam turbine, used in a power station

The turbine generator consists of a series of steam turbines interconnected to each other and a generator on a common shaft. There is a high pressure turbine at one end, followed by an intermediate pressure turbine, two low pressure turbines, and the generator. As steam moves through the system and loses pressure and thermal energy it expands in volume, requiring increasing diameter and longer blades at each succeeding stage to extract the remaining energy. The entire rotating mass may be over 200 metric tons and 100 feet (30 m) long. It is so heavy that it must be kept turning slowly even when shut down (at 3 rpm) so that the shaft will not bow even slightly and become unbalanced. This is so important that it is one of only five functions of blackout emergency power batteries on site. Other functions are emergency lightingcommunication, station alarms and turbogenerator lube oil.

Superheated steam from the boiler is delivered through 14–16-inch (360–410 mm) diameter piping to the high pressure turbine where it falls in pressure to 600 psi (4.1 MPa) and to 600 °F (320 °C) in temperature through the stage. It exits via 24–26-inch (610–660 mm) diameter cold reheat lines and passes back into the boiler where the steam is reheated in special reheat pendant tubes back to 1,000 °F (500 °C). The hot reheat steam is conducted to the intermediate pressure turbine where it falls in both temperature and pressure and exits directly to the long-bladed low pressure turbines and finally exits to the condenser.

The generator, 30 feet (9 m) long and 12 feet (3.7 m) in diameter, contains a stationary stator and a spinning rotor, each containing miles of heavycopper conductor—no permanent magnets here. In operation it generates up to 21,000 amperes at 24,000 volts AC (504 MWe) as it spins at either 3,000 or 3,600 rpm, synchronized to the power grid. The rotor spins in a sealed chamber cooled with hydrogen gas, selected because it has the highest known heat transfer coefficient of any gas and for its low viscosity which reduces windage losses. This system requires special handling during startup, with air in the chamber first displaced by carbon dioxide before filling with hydrogen. This ensures that the highly explosivehydrogen–oxygen environment is not created.

The power grid frequency is 60 Hz across North America and 50 Hz in EuropeOceaniaAsia (Korea and parts of Japan are notable exceptions) and parts of Africa.

The electricity flows to a distribution yard where transformers increase the voltage for transmission to its destination.

The steam turbine-driven generators have auxiliary systems enabling them to work satisfactorily and safely. The steam turbine generator being rotating equipment generally has a heavy, large diameter shaft. The shaft therefore requires not only supports but also has to be kept in position while running. To minimize the frictional resistance to the rotation, the shaft has a number ofbearings. The bearing shells, in which the shaft rotates, are lined with a low friction material like Babbitt metal. Oil lubrication is provided to further reduce the friction between shaft and bearing surface and to limit the heat generated.

Stack gas path and cleanup

See also: Flue-gas emissions from fossil-fuel combustion and Flue-gas desulfurization

As the combustion flue gas exits the boiler it is routed through a rotating flat basket of metal mesh which picks up heat and returns it to incoming fresh air as the basket rotates, This is called theair preheater. The gas exiting the boiler is laden with fly ash, which are tiny spherical ash particles. The flue gas contains nitrogen along with combustion products carbon dioxidesulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. The fly ash is removed by fabric bag filters or electrostatic precipitators. Once removed, the fly ash byproduct can sometimes be used in the manufacturing of concrete. This cleaning up of flue gases, however, only occurs in plants that are fitted with the appropriate technology. Still, the majority of coal-fired power plants in the world do not have these facilities.[citation needed] Legislation in Europe has been efficient to reduce flue gas pollution. Japan has been using flue gas cleaning technology for over 30 years and the US has been doing the same for over 25 years. China is now beginning to grapple with the pollution caused by coal-fired power plants.

Where required by law, the sulfur and nitrogen oxide pollutants are removed by stack gas scrubbers which use a pulverized limestone or other alkaline wet slurry to remove those pollutants from the exit stack gas. Other devices use catalysts to remove Nitrous Oxide compounds from the flue gas stream. The gas travelling up the flue gas stack may by this time have dropped to about50 °C (120 °F). A typical flue gas stack may be 150–180 metres (490–590 ft) tall to disperse the remaining flue gas components in the atmosphere. The tallest flue gas stack in the world is 419.7 metres (1,377 ft) tall at the GRES-2 power plant in EkibastuzKazakhstan.

In the United States and a number of other countries, atmospheric dispersion modeling[13] studies are required to determine the flue gas stack height needed to comply with the local air pollutionregulations. The United States also requires the height of a flue gas stack to comply with what is known as the "Good Engineering Practice (GEP)" stack height.[14][15] In the case of existing flue gas stacks that exceed the GEP stack height, any air pollution dispersion modeling studies for such stacks must use the GEP stack height rather than the actual stack height.

Fly ash collection

Fly ash is captured and removed from the flue gas by electrostatic precipitators or fabric bag filters (or sometimes both) located at the outlet of the furnace and before the induced draft fan. The fly ash is periodically removed from the collection hoppers below the precipitators or bag filters. Generally, the fly ash is pneumatically transported to storage silos for subsequent transport by trucks or railroad cars .

Bottom ash collection and disposal

At the bottom of the furnace, there is a hopper for collection of bottom ash. This hopper is always filled with water to quench the ash and clinkers falling down from the furnace. Some arrangement is included to crush the clinkers and for conveying the crushed clinkers and bottom ash to a storage site . Ash extractor is used to discharge ash from Municipal solid waste fired boilers.

Auxiliary systems

Boiler make-up water treatment plant and storage

Since there is continuous withdrawal of steam and continuous return of condensate to the boiler, losses due to blowdown and leakages have to be made up to maintain a desired water level in the boiler steam drum. For this, continuous make-up water is added to the boiler water system. Impurities in the raw water input to the plant generally consist of calcium and magnesium salts which impart hardness to the water. Hardness in the make-up water to the boiler will form deposits on the tube water surfaces which will lead to overheating and failure of the tubes. Thus, the salts have to be removed from the water, and that is done by a water demineralising treatment plant (DM). A DM plant generally consists of cation, anion, and mixed bed exchangers. Any ions in the final water from this process consist essentially of hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions, which recombine to form pure water. Very pure DM water becomes highly corrosive once it absorbs oxygen from the atmosphere because of its very high affinity for oxygen.

The capacity of the DM plant is dictated by the type and quantity of salts in the raw water input. However, some storage is essential as the DM plant may be down for maintenance. For this purpose, a storage tank is installed from which DM water is continuously withdrawn for boiler make-up. The storage tank for DM water is made from materials not affected by corrosive water, such as PVC. The piping and valves are generally of stainless steel. Sometimes, a steam blanketing arrangement or stainless steel doughnut float is provided on top of the water in the tank to avoid contact with air. DM water make-up is generally added at the steam space of the surface condenser (i.e., the vacuum side). This arrangement not only sprays the water but also DM water gets deaerated, with the dissolved gases being removed by a de-aerator through an ejector attached to the condenser.

Fuel preparation system

In coal-fired power stations, the raw feed coal from the coal storage area is first crushed into small pieces and then conveyed to the coal feed hoppers at the boilers. The coal is next pulverizedinto a very fine powder. The pulverizers may be ball mills, rotating drum grinders, or other types of grinders.

Some power stations burn fuel oil rather than coal. The oil must kept warm (above its pour point) in the fuel oil storage tanks to prevent the oil from congealing and becoming unpumpable. The oil is usually heated to about 100 °C before being pumped through the furnace fuel oil spray nozzles.

Boilers in some power stations use processed natural gas as their main fuel. Other power stations may use processed natural gas as auxiliary fuel in the event that their main fuel supply (coal or oil) is interrupted. In such cases, separate gas burners are provided on the boiler furnaces.

Barring gear

Barring gear (or "turning gear") is the mechanism provided to rotate the turbine generator shaft at a very low speed after unit stoppages. Once the unit is "tripped" (i.e., the steam inlet valve is closed), the turbine coasts down towards standstill. When it stops completely, there is a tendency for the turbine shaft to deflect or bend if allowed to remain in one position too long. This is because the heat inside the turbine casing tends to concentrate in the top half of the casing, making the top half portion of the shaft hotter than the bottom half. The shaft therefore could warp or bend by millionths of inches.

This small shaft deflection, only detectable by eccentricity meters, would be enough to cause damaging vibrations to the entire steam turbine generator unit when it is restarted. The shaft is therefore automatically turned at low speed (about one percent rated speed) by the barring gear until it has cooled sufficiently to permit a complete stop.

Oil system

An auxiliary oil system pump is used to supply oil at the start-up of the steam turbine generator. It supplies the hydraulic oil system required for steam turbine's main inlet steam stop valve, the governing control valves, the bearing and seal oil systems, the relevant hydraulic relays and other mechanisms.

At a preset speed of the turbine during start-ups, a pump driven by the turbine main shaft takes over the functions of the auxiliary system.

Generator cooling

While small generators may be cooled by air drawn through filters at the inlet, larger units generally require special cooling arrangements. Hydrogen gas cooling, in an oil-sealed casing, is used because it has the highest known heat transfer coefficient of any gas and for its low viscosity which reduces windage losses. This system requires special handling during start-up, with air in the generator enclosure first displaced by carbon dioxide before filling with hydrogen. This ensures that the highly flammable hydrogen does not mix with oxygen in the air.

The hydrogen pressure inside the casing is maintained slightly higher than atmospheric pressure to avoid outside air ingress. The hydrogen must be sealed against outward leakage where the shaft emerges from the casing. Mechanical seals around the shaft are installed with a very small annular gap to avoid rubbing between the shaft and the seals. Seal oil is used to prevent the hydrogen gas leakage to atmosphere.

The generator also uses water cooling. Since the generator coils are at a potential of about 22 kV, an insulating barrier such as Teflon is used to interconnect the water line and the generator high voltage windings. Demineralized water of low conductivity is used.

Generator high voltage system

The generator voltage for modern utility-connected generators ranges from 11 kV in smaller units to 22 kV in larger units. The generator high voltage leads are normally large aluminium channels because of their high current as compared to the cables used in smaller machines. They are enclosed in well-grounded aluminium bus ducts and are supported on suitable insulators. The generator high voltage leads are connected to step-up transformers for connecting to a high voltage electrical substation (usually in the range of 115 kV to 765 kV) for further transmission by the local power grid.

The necessary protection and metering devices are included for the high voltage leads. Thus, the steam turbine generator and the transformer form one unit. Smaller units,may share a common generator step-up transformer with individual circuit breakers to connect the generators to a common bus.

Monitoring and alarm system

Most of the power plant operational controls are automatic. However, at times, manual intervention may be required. Thus, the plant is provided with monitors and alarm systems that alert the plant operators when certain operating parameters are seriously deviating from their normal range.

Battery supplied emergency lighting and communication

A central battery system consisting of lead acid cell units is provided to supply emergency electric power, when needed, to essential items such as the power plant's control systems, communication systems, turbine lube oil pumps, and emergency lighting. This is essential for a safe, damage-free shutdown of the units in an emergency situation.

Transport of coal fuel to site and to storage

Most thermal stations use coal as the main fuel. Raw coal is transported from coal mines to a power station site by trucksbargesbulk cargo ships or railway cars. Generally, when shipped by railways, the coal cars are sent as a full train of cars. The coal received at site may be of different sizes. The railway cars are unloaded at site by rotary dumpers or side tilt dumpers to tip over onto conveyor belts below. The coal is generally conveyed to crushers which crush the coal to about 34 inches (19 mm) size. The crushed coal is then sent by belt conveyors to a storage pile. Normally, the crushed coal is compacted by bulldozers, as compacting of highly volatile coal avoids spontaneous ignition.

The crushed coal is conveyed from the storage pile to silos or hoppers at the boilers by another belt conveyor system.

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