5 Ways to Make Your Power Plant More Efficient

In the power industry, profitability depends on efficiency. There are, of course, plenty of ways to boost your top line, but without efficiency, your bottom line will always suffer.

Here are 5 ways to make your power plant more efficient.

Choose your valves wisely

Bad-acting valves cost power plants a lot of money in efficiency every year. By one estimate, valve leakage is responsible for power industry losses of up to $1.2 billion annually! And that doesn’t take into consideration the cost of valve failures that lead to unplanned downtime.

Don’t let valve problems place a strain on your business. The Cornerstone TP-1 severe service valve can boost efficiency and also save you money on your actuator, spare parts, and more. Click here to learn how.

Don’t overlook your condenser

According to engineer Una Nowling in an article for POWER Magazine, “a power plant condenser can make or break your efficiency and power delivery goals.” Unfortunately, she says, condensers are often “overlooked and underappreciated.”

Nowling offers several ways to improve condenser and efficiency, including one that should be standard practice in every power plant: regular cleaning and maintenance. She notes: “Regular cleaning…of a condenser can greatly improve its heat transfer ability, which results in a lower condenser pressure, lower condenser terminal temperature difference, and lower heat rate penalty.”

Look to nanotechnology

Speaking of condensers, researchers at MIT have developed a way to harness the power of nanotechnology to drive a 2-3% improvement in power plant efficiency. “That translates into millions of dollars per power plant per year,” says lead researcher Daniel Preston.

The solution involves coating the surface of the condenser with a one-atom-thick layer of graphene, a very thin but still very strong material. The goal is to keep water droplets from forming on the condenser, which impedes heat transfer. In Preston’s study, the graphene coating improved the rate of heat transfer by a factor of four, and the researchers believe they can boost the improvement further still.

Dry high-moisture coal before combustion

Almost half of the coal used for power generation in the United States is either lignite or subbituminous coal, both of which have a high moisture content. Burning this coal is inefficient because evaporating the moisture consumes roughly 7% of the fuel input.

An alternative is to dry the coal before burning it, which has been found to improve plant efficiency by reducing the fuel input. It also reduces emissions including sulfur dioxide, mercury, nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide. Learn about an innovative coal-drying technology.

Measure 5 basic parameters

In a recent article for POWER Magazine, engineer Nick Schroeder noted, “Power plants are designed to operate at their highest efficiency. Once a plant goes into operation, however, real life takes over and sometimes design outcomes are not regularly realized.”

He suggests that the key to ensuring real-life plant performance more closely approximates the efficiency specified in the design documents lies in measuring these five parameters:

  • Flue gas exit temperature
  • Feedwater flow ratio
  • Condenser terminal temperature difference (TTD)
  • Condenser range (RNG)
  • Tower approach (APP)

He writes: “[These parameters] are simple, easy to understand, way points that can help guide daily operation, assisting operators as they navigate toward the original design performance ports.”

We can’t help you with all of these things, but we can make sure you have the right valves for your application and that those valves perform at peak efficiency! Contact us to learn more.

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