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Technical Paper

B&W IR-CFB Operating Experience and

New Development

M.Maryamchik and D.L. Wietzke

The Babcock & Wilcox Company
Barberton, Ohio, U.S.A.

Presented to:
18th International Conference on Fluidized Bed
May 22 - 25, 2005
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Babcock & Wilcox Company 1

Proceedings of FBC2005
18th International Conference on Fluidized Bed Combustion
May 22-25, 2005, Toronto, Ontario, Canada



M. Maryamchik, D.L. Wietzke

The Babcock & Wilcox Company

The paper provides an update on B&W Internal
Recirculation (IR) CFB boilers featuring a two-stage solids
collection system. The paper describes the latest commercial
projects, operating experience and developments in boiler
design and process. Those concern solids collection system,
erosion protection, etc.

The major distinction between circulating fluidized bed
(CFB) boilers competing in todays market is in the type of the
solids separator. CFB boilers with large cyclone separators
connected to the furnace outlet (hot-cyclone type) were
introduced in mid-1970s and are being offered by several boiler
manufacturers. CFB boilers with impact separators, offered by
The Babcock & Wilcox Company (B&W) and its licensees,
entered the market more than ten years later and since then
Fig. 1 U-beam primary separators plan view.
have been gaining acceptance.

B&W CFB boilers feature a two-stage solids separator 70 % of incoming solids) directly to the furnace and seven
with a primary stage being an impact solids separator located at rows of external U-beams with solids recycle through L-
the furnace exit and collecting the bulk of the solids (95-97%) valves [2].
that are returned to the furnace by gravity. The primary - Third generation (first started-up in 1996) - Two rows of
separator is arranged as an array (Figure 1) of U-shaped vertical in-furnace U-beams and three or four rows of external U-
elements (U-beams). The secondary separation stage, typically beams with all solids internally recycled within the furnace
a multicyclone dust collector (MDC), is located in the lower in this IR-CFB separator [3].
gas temperature region of the boiler convection pass, i.e., 480 F
to 950 F (250 C to 510 C). In some cases the first fields of an Operational experience along with continued R&D have
electrostatic precipitator are used as the secondary separator. led to design updates of the third generation of the separator
The fine particles collected by the secondary separator are shown in Figure 2. Featured are total of four rows (two in-
returned to the furnace via a pneumatic (in earlier designs) or furnace and two external) of segmented U-beams. Each beam
gravity transport system. consists of about 3-foot (0.9 m) long segments supported off a
water-cooled tube. Supporting tubes for the first three rows
The U-beam separator has evolved through three B&W (along the gas flow) are the furnace rear wall tubes; those for
CFB boiler design generations: the last row are fed from a separate header.
- First generation (first started-up in 1986) - All U-beams The design allows independent thermal expansion of each
(11 rows) installed external to the furnace with solids segment and eliminates the need for the hopper under external
recycle through non-mechanical controllable L-valves [1]. U-beams that was required for providing a room for thermal
- Second generation (first started-up in 1989) - Two rows of expansion of long stainless steel beams hung from the roof.
in-furnace U-beams discharging collected particles (about

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Plus Gas
Solids Flow


External Fig. 3 Multicyclone dust collector.




Fig. 2 IR-CFB primary particles collection


As a result, dramatic simplification and cost reduction of the U-

beam separator have been achieved.

Over the same period, the design of the MDC separator has
been improved for better efficiency, reliability and
maintainability. The current design (Figure 3) has a top gas
inlet and a side gas outlet. The cyclone elements have 9 in.
(229 mm) diameter regardless of the boiler capacity. The MDC
solids recycle system has evolved from a dense-phase
pneumatic transport (first generation) to a dilute-phase Fig. 4 Ebensburg CFB boiler.
pneumatic transport (second generation) to gravity conveying
(third generation). boiler (Figure 4) burns high-ash (average 45% ash) Western
Pennsylvania waste bituminous coal.
The latest MDC separator improvement has to do with the
cyclone elements material. The cyclone sleeves and spin vanes The unit was designed for 55 MWe capacity (465 klb/hr or
were made of high hardness (550 BHN) cast iron providing 211 t/hr steam flow), but was uprated in 1995 and again in 1997
their reliable operation but associated with certain maintenance and since then has been operated at 10% overload. Boiler
expenses. Replacing cast iron material with ceramics of the performance and availability are shown in Table 1 and Figure
same element configuration resulted in drastic reduction of 5, respectively. The Ebensburg plant has received the
wear and corresponding need in the elements replacement (see Association of Independent Power Producers of Pennsylvania
more below in MDC experience). (ARIPPA) award for the highest availability among plants
firing coal mine waste fuels.
The second-generation CFB boiler at Ebensburg,
Pennsylvania, in a cogeneration plant commissioned in early The CFB boiler at Southern Illinois University (SIU) in
1991, exemplifies the long-term boiler performance. This Carbondale, Illinois, represents the third generation design.

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Fig. 5 Ebensburg plant availability.

Table 1
Ebensburg Operating Data

Operating Steam Flow, t/hr (klb/hr) 234 (516)

Steam Flow @ MCR, t/hr (klb/hr) 211 (465)

Steam Temperature, C (F) 512 (953)

Steam Pressure, MPa (psig) 10.6 (1540)

SH Steam Temperature Control Range, % 30-110

Load Turndown Ratio without Auxiliary Fuel 5:1

NOx, ppm (lb/106 Btu) <100 (<0.14)
SO2, ppm (lb/106 Btu) <300 (<0.60)
CO, ppm (lb/106 Btu) <230 (<0.20)

Ca/S Molar Ratio 2.1-2.4

Fig. 6 Southern Illinois University IR-CFB boiler.

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The boiler (Figure 6) was designed for 35 MWt output for
cogeneration application, utilizing high-sulfur Illinois
bituminous coal. Boiler performance and availability are Table 2
SIU Operating Data
shown in Table 2 and Figure 7, respectively. The third
generation design was also used for the Kanoria Chemical Steam Flow @ MCR, t/hr (klb/hr) 46 (101.5)
project in India (as well as for the second Kanoria CFB project
recently awarded to Thermax Babcock & Wilcox, B&Ws CFB Steam Temperature, C (F) 399 (750)
licensee in India), two boilers for Konya Sugar in Turkey,
being erected by Gama, B&Ws CFB licensee in Turkey, and Steam Pressure, MPa (psig) 4.4 (640)
some others. SH Steam Temperature Control Range, % 40-110

Operating experience of B&W coal-fired CFB boilers has Load Turndown Ratio without Auxiliary Fuel 5:1
clearly confirmed their efficient performance and high
reliability. Emissions
NOx, ppm (lb/106 Btu) <100 (<0.14)
SO2, % removal 90
CO, ppm (lb/106 Btu) <200 (<0.17)
The design of a solids separator is the core of a CFB Ca/S Molar Ratio 2.3
combustion technology since it has major impact on the boiler
layout, cost, fuel and sorbent utilization, operational flexibility
and reliability.

Fig. 7 SIU plant availability.

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In all these aspects B&Ws CFB boilers with the two-stage expense has been minimal on the operating B&W CFB boilers
solids separation provide the following design features: and can now be reduced further with ceramic elements.

a) High solids collection efficiency f) Integral design/small footprint

The collection efficiency of the two-stage solids separator The U-beam separator is integral with the boiler enclosure
is intrinsically high due to the greater efficiency of the MDC providing for the most compact and cost-efficient boiler layout,
internal collection elements. Higher solids collection efficiency similar to the conventional two-pass pulverized coal fired (PC)
helps to achieve greater inventory of fine circulating particles in boiler. This feature is especially important for retrofitting
the furnace that provides: a) higher furnace heat transfer rate, b) outdated PC boilers with CFB technology in repowering
ability to better control furnace temperature, and c) better applications where keeping the existing boiler footprint is
carbon and sorbent utilization due to the increased residence highly desirable.
time of fine particles.

g) Minimal refractory use

b) Controlled furnace temperature The amount of refractory used in the B&W CFB boilers is
The furnace temperature is controlled in response to load 80-90% less than that used for similar capacity CFB boilers
changes and variations of fuel and/or sorbent properties by with non-cooled hot cyclones and 40-50% less than CFB
controlling the solids recycle rate from the MDC. The recycle boilers with cooled cyclones. For B&W CFB boilers the start-
rate at high boiler loads is set to achieve the upper furnace up time is not limited by the rate of temperature rise of
density required to maintain the target furnace temperature. At refractory.
low loads, the recycle rate directly controls the dense bed
temperature. The capacity of the MDC hoppers is used for
solids transfer to and from the furnace. Excessive solids h) Low maintenance
collected by the MDC are purged if needed. With B&W CFB A distinct feature of IR-CFB is low maintenance. Among
boilers, the load can be reduced without auxiliary fuel to 20% the factors contributing to this feature are: low overall amount
of maximum continuous rating (MCR). of refractory, Reduced Diameter Zone (RDZ) design (see
below), low furnace exit velocity, and absence of hot expansion
c) Low auxiliary power
The auxiliary power requirement is lower for impact-
separator type boilers since the total pressure drop across the TWO-STAGE SOLIDS SEPARATOR EXPERIENCE
two-stage separator (U-beams + MDC) is only 4 in. wc (1 kPa). Two key areas important for design evaluation of CFB
In addition, high-pressure air blowers for fluidization of boilers with impact separator are high reliability of the two-
returning solids are not needed. stage solids separator and its superior collection efficiency.
The long term operating experience and test data provide the
definite affirmation of the impact separator plus MDC design as
d) Uniform gas flow described in the following section.
The gases exiting from the furnace to the U-beam separator
across the furnace width provide for a uniform two-dimensional
gas flow pattern. This allows placement of in-furnace surfaces Reliability
as needed over the entire furnace height and width, including U-beam experience. U-beams are conservatively designed
the region adjacent to the rear wall in the upper furnace. With to operate in the flue gas environment at the exit of the CFB
proven reliability of in-furnace heating surfaces, this makes furnace. B&W has selected U-beam materials typically high
unnecessary the use of external heat exchangers and allows nickel, high chromium, austenitic stainless steels to resist
selection of the furnace height based on combustion/sulfur erosion and corrosion while possessing adequate long term
capture considerations rather than on a heating surface strength at the design temperatures. Substantial design margins
requirement. Combined with high collection efficiency of the are provided to accommodate possible U-beam temperature
two-stage solids separator, this allows reduced furnace height. deviations from the expected value based on average gas
temperature leaving the furnace. These margins eliminate the
possibility of the U-beams being damaged during operational
e) High solids separator reliability upsets.
U-beams and MDC have high reliability and low
maintenance since they do not include any maintenance- Mechanical conditions of U-beams along with related
intensive components such as refractory, loop-seals, expansion boiler thermal performance data have been monitored over the
joints, vortex finders, etc. The U-beam design that has evolved 13 years of operation at the Ebensburg CFB boiler. It was
through 18 years of operating experience has proven to be very confirmed that erosion losses were negligible due to a tough,
reliable, requiring no maintenance. U-beam design criteria erosion resistant film formed on the surface of the U-beams. It
include conservative assumptions of 25 year life of U-beam was also determined that the material was resistant to corrosion
materials and supports. The MDC internals made of cast iron and deformation when operated within the design margins.
require some maintenance during planned shutdowns, but this

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The Ebensburg CFB boiler capacity was increased by 10%
over the original design. For evaluated economic reasons no
other changes to the boiler were made to maintain the design
temperature and excess air at the furnace exit. This resulted in Furnace Wall
more than 3 years of operation with local U-beams (inside)
temperatures approaching or exceeding the design margins.

After this 3 year period of operation with excessively high

temperatures, signs of U-beam mechanical degradation have
begun appearing where the maximum temperatures or
maximum solids loading occur. Some U-beam channels began
to flare, and the mid-section of several U-beams rotated up to
10 degrees from the original position. Also, several corrosion
spots were found near the bottom of the rear-most rows of U-
beams where U-beams were covered with ash deposits.
Ebensburg has now introduced modifications that eliminate the Evaporative
high temperature at the 10%-uprated maximum load. The Panel
current design has been changed to avoid these degradations
even during prolonged high temperature operation.

Regardless of some U-beam deformation observed as a Fig. 8 Reduced diameter zone.

result of the off-design operating conditions, no deterioration of Maintenance work was needed on the Ebensburg
boiler performance was detected and no U-beams have had to pneumatic MDC solids recycle system which normally is done
be replaced. Maintenance work on U-beams has been minimal, on line, or during planned boiler outages. At SIU, where air-
consisting primarily of cleaning of solids accumulated on the slide ash conveyors were used, virtually no maintenance work
top side of the alignment pans located near the bottom of U- was needed on the return system. This system has been further
beams and an occasional repair of the pan and strap attachment simplified for new offerings. Variable speed, inclined screw(s)
welds. are used at the MDC hopper discharge(s), in place of previously
used rotary valves, to control the flow rate of recycled solids.
The latest U-beam design offers even higher reliability The solids in the inclined screw provide the required pressure
since it employs the same high-quality materials while reducing seal without the maintenance associated with the close
the size of each supported element and the corresponding tolerance, machined surfaces found in rotary valves.

The resilience of U-beams to operating conditions RDZ experience. The patented Reduced Diameter Zone
associated with excessive temperatures and increased gas (RDZ) design (Figure 8) was introduced at Ebensburg in the
velocities contrasts to that of vortex finders (a part of hot- year 2000. The RDZ consists of a reduced diameter tube
cyclones) which are made of similar materials and exposed to a section mating to a specially shaped ceramic tile. The reduced
similar gas/solids environment. Vortex finder failures have diameter tube section on each tube slopes away from the solids
been reported with a substantial detrimental effect on boiler falling down the wall along the surface profile of the tube
performance and considerable maintenance cost panel, thereby eliminating the discontinuity adjacent to the
tube. RDZ installation at Ebensburg resulted in increasing time
span between the outages from six months (dictated by
MDC experience. At Ebensburg, due to the waste coal's high refractory interface maintenance requirements) to a year or
ash content and ash abrasiveness, about 20% of the MDC more.
internal elements made of high hardness cast iron were being
replaced during each yearly outage to avoid a loss of MDC Plant outage schedule is now determined primarily by
efficiency. At other B&W CFB boilers burning high-sulfur auxiliary equipment maintenance requirements. Due to lack of
bituminous coal, circulating solids are typically less abrasive as necessity, the plant also stopped renewing tube protective
compared to the Ebensburg unit, and the MDC internal coating above the refractory interface, thus effectively
elements have either not required replacement or have been eliminating maintenance of this furnace area.
replaced as needed during planned outages. For example, at
SIU, firing medium-ash high-sulfur coal, the first replacement
of about 20% of the MDC internals took place in the fifth year Maintenance cost. The maintenance cost of the solids
of operation. separators in the B&W CFB boilers is intrinsically low. At
Ebensburg, the total maintenance cost for U-beams and L-
Four years ago at Ebensburg, worn-out cast iron elements valves over 10 years of operation was about $20,000. The
started being replaced with the elements made of ceramics average maintenance cost for the MDC with cast iron collection
having the same design. During the last yearly outage no wear elements was about $25,000 per year, which was virtually
was found on any of the ceramic elements. eliminated with introduction of ceramic collection elements.
There was no loss of power generation due to U-beam or L-

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Collection Efficiency, %




20 40 60 80 100

Particle Size, micron

Fig. 9 Fractional collection efficiency of MDC

(IR-CFB at SIU).

valve related problems and only a negligible loss of generation

due to the load reduction during MDC recycle system on-line Fig. 10 Particle size distribution of fly ash for
repairs. hot cyclones and two-stage separation system.

Solids Collection Efficiency CURRENT IR-CFB DESIGN

The only meaningful measure of CFB solids separation A recently offered B&W unit represents the latest design
system performance is the fractional solids collection features of the IR-CFB boiler. This boiler (Figure 11) will
efficiency. The overall collection efficiency depends on the produce 360,000 lb/hr (163 t/hr) steam of 1600 psig/990 F (110
size distribution of solids entering the separator and is not bar/532 C). The fuel is a low-ash low-sulfur western sub-
indicative of a separators ability to retain fine particles, most bituminous coal.
important for CFB boiler performance.
The furnace and horizontal convection pass enclosure are
The fractional collection efficiency of the two-stage solids top-supported and made of gas-tight membrane walls. The
separation system used in B&W CFB boilers is determined by furnace contains two water-cooled panels and six steam-cooled
the efficiency of the second stage separator. The fractional wing walls.
collection efficiency of the secondary separator (MDC) of
B&Ws IR-CFB boiler at SIU is shown in Figure 9. The Fuel is fed to the lower furnace through the front wall
fractional collection efficiency of the secondary separator was using three air-assisted chutes. Limestone is injected
readily measurable during the tests of B&W CFB boilers. pneumatically through multiple points uniformly across the
Samples of solids passing and collected by the separator were width of the furnace near the bottom. Start-up fuel (natural
analyzed for the particle size distribution. The flow rate of gas) is fired using three burners mounted at the rear wall.
collected solids was determined by calibration of the recycle
system feeder. The flow rate of passing solids (fly ash) was Separate fans supply primary and secondary air. Primary
determined as the difference between solids entering the boiler air is introduced through the bubble cap grid at the furnace
and the bed drain flow rate. The latter was determined from the floor with secondary air introduced uniformly across the
heat balance of the screw cooler. furnace width using nozzles at the front and rear walls sized to
provide air distribution across the furnace.
A comparison of fly ash particle size distribution based on
published data for hot-cyclone CFB boilers [4,5,6,7] and The lower furnace is protected from erosion and corrosive
measurements taken at B&Ws CFB boiler at SIU is shown in conditions by a layer of low cement, high strength refractory.
Figure 10. One can see that the upper cut size of solids This material has proven to require little maintenance in the
separation at 98% of passing solids is about 80 micron for the lower CFB furnace environment. The membrane tubes at the
SIU IR-CFB. This results in a high percentage of fine ash upper edge of the refractory in the lower furnace are protected
being recycled to the furnace, thus giving a high rate of heat from erosion by the RDZ.
transfer in the upper furnace as well as a high rate of calcium
and carbon recycle. The U-beam separator consists of two rows of in-furnace
and two rows of external U-beams. Each beam consists of

7 2005 The Babcock & Wilcox Company.

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distinct two-stage solids separator has proven its high reliability
and superior collection efficiency. The main advantages of this
boiler design are higher furnace heat transfer rate, ability to
better control furnace temperature, and increased residence
time of fine carbon and sorbent particles. Its operators take
advantage of the lower maintenance costs and auxiliary power
requirements. The IR-CFB boiler achieves the required
performance with reduced furnace height and smaller boiler
footprint. This design is especially attractive for replacing
existing obsolete PC boilers in the same space.

[1] F. Belin, et al., Waste Wood Combustion in Circulating
Fluidized Bed Boilers, Proceedings of the Second
International Conference in Circulating Fluidized Beds, 1988.

[2] C. E. Price and D. J. Walker, Coal and Waste Coal-Fired

Boilers Accumulate Operating Experience, Proceedings of
12th International Conference on Fluidized-Bed Combustion,

[3] Belin, et al., Update of Operating Experience of B&W IR-

CFB Coal-Fired Boilers, Proceedings of 15th International
Fig. 11 Current IR-CFB design. Conference on Fluidized-Bed Combustion, 1999.

about 3-foot (0.9 m) long segments supported off a water- [4] D. R. Hajicek et al., The Impact of Coal Quality on
cooled tube. Supporting tubes for the first three rows (along Circulating Fluidized Bed Combustor Performance, EPRI
the gas flow) are the tubes of the furnace rear wall; those for the Coal Quality Conference, 1992.
last row are fed from a separate header. The U-beam segments
are made of SA240TP309H material, which was also used in [5] W. vom Berg and K.-H. Puch, Verwertung von
previous B&W CFB projects. Ruckstanden aus Wirbelschichtfeuerungsanlagen, Vortrage
VGB Konferenz, Wirbelschihtsysteme 1992.
Pendant superheater banks are located downstream of the
U-beams in the horizontal convection pass. Steam from the [6] M. Gierse, Aspects of the Performance of Three Different
drum flows through the side walls of the pendant superheater Types of Industrial Fluidized Bed Boilers, Proceedings of the
enclosure, then through the primary superheater bank followed 3rd International Conference on Circulating Fluidized Beds,
by the wing walls and the secondary superheater bank to the 1990.
main steam outlet.
[7] U. Muschelknautz and E. Muschelknautz, Improvements
The MDC is located immediately downstream of the of Cyclones in CFB Power Plants and Quantitative Estimation
horizontal convection pass. Further in the gas path it is on Their Effects on the Boiler Solids Inventory, Proceedings
followed by the economizer and tubular air heater (air inside of the 6th International Conference on Circulating Fluidized
tubes). The air heater is side-split for the primary and Beds, 1999.
secondary air. After the air heater, gas flows through a
baghouse and an induced draft (ID) fan to a stack.
Solids collected by the MDC are recycled back to the Although the information presented in this work is believed
furnace through six recycle lines utilizing inclined screw to be reliable, this work is published with the understanding
conveyors and gravity feed. that The Babcock & Wilcox Company and the authors are
supplying general information and are not attempting to render
IR-CFB scale-up or provide engineering or professional services. Neither The
With the current design approach, IR-CFB boilers with a Babcock & Wilcox Company nor any of its employees make any
design similar to that described above are offered for capacities warranty, guarantee, or representation, whether expressed or
up to 200 MWe (600 MWth). implied, with respect to the accuracy, completeness or
usefulness of any information, product, process or apparatus
discussed in this work; and neither The Babcock & Wilcox
CONCLUSIONS Company nor any of its employees shall be liable for any losses
Lessons learned from 18 years of B&Ws CFB technology or damages with respect to or resulting from the use of, or the
application have led to development of the reliable, low-cost inability to use, any information, product, process or apparatus
IR-CFB boiler design. Long-term operating experience of the discussed in this work.

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