When market forces require coal-fired generation units to cycle rather than base-load, it is commercially desirable to minimize the plant damage incurred during the start-up transient. In cases where a unit start-up is poorly planned or executed, the costs, both in terms of lost profitable generation opportunities and plant lifetime reduction, can be an order of magnitude greater than the fuel savings obtained by shutting the unit down during periods where generation would be unprofitable. In practice however, it can be difficult to achieve low-damage starts consistently due to different shutdown durations, different plant conditions and different staff shifts.
Real Time Power has developed a novel approach to automation that has been deployed to overcome these limitations and provide consistent unit start-ups that match and improve on current best practice.
In the case of the coal-fired plants, AirSonic IQ derives major benefits by optimizing the coordination of ancillary equipment and subsystems which can be difficult to carry out manually. It further improves the existing control system by supplementing its remit such that the rates of rise of temperatures and pressure can be increased towards their optimal rate appropriate to thin and thick walled components and also reducing the duration of the start.
Consistent execution of the start up plan will maximize benefits as actions need to be performed at the correct time while ensuring that parallel activities are coordinated precisely.
AirSonic IQ prevents extremely high temperatures, large and/or fast temperature variations and large differences between steam and metal temperatures, which can reduce thermal stress.