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The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) demonstrated the use of an innovative new pressure
wave cleaning technology to clean the finned tubes in the heat recovery steam generator
(HRSG) of the utility’s Southaven Combined Cycle Plant. The cleaning technology was
shown to safely remove deposits in the HRSG tubes while reducing labor costs and outage
time. The pressure wave cleaning crew
outside the HRSG inserting and
FOULING OF HRSG TUBES performing pressure wave cleaning.

In today’s power generation market, the most efficient plants have a competitive advantage.

Over time, the finned tubes in HRSGs become fouled due to deposits on the tubes and in
between the fins. The most common deposits are ammonia salt deposits downstream of the TVA and EPRI have
selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system and rust caused by dew point or off-line corrosion, successfully introduced an
mainly at the cold end. The corrosion is accelerated by the presence of sulfur. innovative HRSG cleaning
Fouled HRSG tubes penalize plant performance in several ways. Fouling of the gas side of method to the U.S. electric
HRSG tubes increases plant heat rate by reducing the heat transfer and increasing the back utility industry. Our first use
pressure of the gas turbine. Reduced heat transfer efficiency also reduces the output of the of this alternative method
steam turbine. supported TVA initiatives
Common cleaning methods include grit blasting, on-line acoustic horns, dry ice blasting, and for increased outage cost
chemical cleaning. Each of these methods has disadvantages, including high cost, outage time, savings and improved asset
waste removal, and the need for cleaning crews to have access to fouled areas. availability by providing
a quicker, safer, and more
effective means of
The pressure wave technology is based on pressure waves generated from small-dose, con-
cleaning our HRSGs.
trolled explosions caused by the ignition of a mixture of oxygen and a flammable gas such as
ethane. The technology is deployed by mounting a plastic-lined “balloon” on a long lance or
flexible hose. The balloon is introduced near the area to be cleaned, inflated with the combus-
Plant Manager
tible mixture, and remotely ignited under controlled conditions. The resulting pressure wave TVA Southaven
and tube vibrations dislodge the fouling deposits, which are then removed from the bottom of Combined Cycle
the HRSG by means of a vacuum truck.
The pressure waves have the ability to The pressure wave technology also demon-
penetrate deep into the tube bundle to strated several advantages over other
achieve a very thorough cleaning. This methods:
process is repeated at several locations along
• Less Pre-Cleaning Work. No scaffolding
the face of each HRSG tube bundle to create
was required to position the equipment.
the desired cleaning effect. The method is
No casing modifications, tube spreading,
suited to short outages (typically five days).
or other modifications were necessary to
gain access for cleaning. Minimal site
support resources were needed.
CYCLE PLANT • Less Cooldown Required. Cleaning could
be conducted before the HRSG was
TVA’s Southaven Combined Cycle Plant,
fully cooled to ambient temperature.
located in Southaven, Mississippi, consists of
three 295-MW units. Unit 3 was the site of • Ease of Use. The equipment is light-
the demonstration. Prior to demonstration of weight, easy to use, and safe to handle.
the pressure wave technology, no cleaning of The crew required only one day of
the finned tubes had been conducted in Unit training to become proficient with the
3 for 14 years since the plant was commis- equipment.
sioned. The four tube bundles downstream of The delivery device for the explosion that
• More Access. The cleaning can extend
creates the pressure wave. It is a special bag
the SCR held the majority of the deposits, into areas that other cleaning technolo- that fills with gas then ignites.
which consisted primarily of iron oxides with gies cannot reach without providing a
some light sulfur deposits present on the HP/ specialized means of access such as Combined Cycle. “Our first use of this
LP economizer and LP evaporator. scaffolding or man-baskets. alternative method supported TVA initiatives
The pressure wave cleaning technology was • Reduced Cleaning Time. The technology for increased outage cost savings and
used during a seven-day outage. Seven tube involves less cleaning crew work inside improved asset availability by providing a
bundle faces were cleaned over four day the boiler and less work in confined quicker, safer, and more effective means of
shifts, with vacuuming of the deposits spaces. Because the crew did not need to cleaning our HRSGs.”
conducted on the last night shift. enter the HRSG during the pressure
wave process, cleaning time was FOR MORE INFORMATION
RESULTS OF THE significantly reduced—i.e., cleaning was For more information, contact the EPRI
DEMONSTRATION accomplished in half the shifts required Customer Assistance Center at
The cleaning removed the majority of for an alternative technique. The 800.313.3774 (
deposits—four times the amount of deposits reduction in cleaning time is especially
Bill Carson | Program Manager
removed by an alternative technique beneficial for combined-cycle units, Program | Combined Cycle HRSG and
performed on an identical Southaven unit. which typically have short outage Balance of Plant
The beneficial effects of removing the windows and need to minimize labor Phone | 704.595.2698
deposits were a reduction in pressure drop activities and risks to units. Email |
across the HRSG and increased unit heat rate “TVA and EPRI have successfully introduced
efficiency. No visible signs of damage were an innovative HRSG cleaning method to the
observed on the tubes or to surrounding U.S. Electric Utility Industry,” said Fred
structures and instrumentation. Vannucci, Plant Manager, TVA Southaven

February 2017

Electric Power Research Institute

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