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Literature Review

The purpose of a power plant is to create power distribution, as

necessary. However, to create a large amount of power a plant must also use
a large amount of power. Reduction in the amount of energy a power plant
uses will increase the overall efficiency and profit of the plant. One of the
simplest ways to achieve this is to install variable frequency drives (VFDs),
for the motors controlling the boiler fans. Following is a discussion of the
basics of power plants, the different types of fans within the plant, the
function of VFDs, ways to integrate VFDs into existing systems, possible
companies to purchase VFDs from, and the requirements of the National
Electric Code standards for all variable frequency drives.
Forced Draft and Induced Draft Fans
Electrical power plants that use a boiler, add heat to feed water and
then supply steam to one or more turbines. This heat is generated by the
combustion of a fuel such as coal. The air needed for the combustion is
supplied by forced draft fans. Electrical power plants run on the balanced
draft principle. A forced draft (FD) fan is used to push air into the boiler for
combustion. An induced draft (ID) fan is used to draw the unused air and the
gaseous combustion products out of the boiler and into the chimney for
release. These two fans must work together for optimum performance. Both
the inlet and outlet air flows of the boiler must be controlled in order to have
optimal combustion and to maintain a balanced draft. Additionally, they
have to work under safe operating conditions. If there is too much air flow,
the energy is being wasted [2]. However, if there is not enough air flow then
the area can become polluted with fuels and there is risk of the boiler
explosion. Also, if not enough air is drawn from the boiler, the boiler will
become pressurized and small particles will be blown out of the openings and
into the atmosphere polluting it. On the other hand, if too much air is drawn
from the boiler, a trip will happen so that the boiler doesnt implode. So its
a very delicate process to get the induced draft fans and the forced draft
fans set correctly for the ideal operation. In most power plants, the air flow
is controlled so that it holds the boiler pressure at one-half inch water
column. The fans that power plants use to control this air flow are usually
very large and have single speed fan motors. The air flow is controlled by
modulating the inlet vanes on each force draft fan while the vanes on
induced draft fans are modulated to control the pressure of the boiler. These
fans are one of the largest consumers of power in the whole power plant [2].
Forced Draft Fans are usually the most efficient fans in a power plant. Forced
and induced draft fans are made up of nine main components: the fan, the
fan ring, the plenum, the nozzle, the header, the tube bundle, the drive
assembly, the column support, and the inlet bell. The Forced Draft Fan must
be able to supply the air necessary for fuel combustion. It also must be able
to handle stoichiometric air and the excess air from burning the actual

specific fuel it is designed to use [3]. Forced draft fans not only supply the
air for the total airflow, but they also provide air to make up for heater
leakage and some sealing air requirements. The forced draft fan is kept in
the cleanest environment possible, meaning it is kept in room air and is not
around the high temperature, acidic environment of exhaust gasses.
Because FD fans are kept in such a clean environment, it is much less
susceptible to failures, unlike an induced draft fan. Also because of the FD
fans well-kept location, it makes access much easier for things like
maintenance and replacements. Compared to the ID fans, a lower initial
cost, are much cheaper to maintain, have fewer vibration problems, have a
shorter fan shaft, and require less space because of its lesser plot width. [4]
Variable Frequency Drives and Controls
Optimizing control systems for the Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) in
coal plants may increase efficiency of the coal plant. Variable speed fans
need to be adjusted to give the desired airflow. There are many different
kinds of VFDs and they can have different features as well depending on the
fan they will be used on. Variable drive fans utilize hydraulic or magnetic
couplings. These couplings make the fan wheel speed independent of the
motor speed. Fan speed controls are usually integrated into automated
systems to maintain the correct speed of the fan. The speed of the FD and ID
fans can also be controlled by electronic variable-speed drive, which controls
the speed of the motor. This method means more energy efficiency of at
reduced speeds, than the hydraulic or magnetic couplings. [5] Fan dampers
can be used to control gas flow in and out of the fan. They can be installed
on the inlet or outlet side. These dampers can slow the flow of gasses or
change how the gas enters the fan wheel. [6] Fan hubs can be arranged in
three ways: Forward, Backward, and Radial. These different configurations
can results in different outcomes. Forward use blades curved toward the
direction of rotation of the fan wheel. Backward are used to design to handle
gas steams with relatively low particulate loadings. The backward are more
energy efficient than radial fans. Radial fans have blades that extend straight
from the hub. [7]
A study conducted at Alabama Power to create more efficient control
devices for 2 units that have more than 25 years of service has resulted in
better efficiency. This resulted in 0.15 percent heat rate improvement and
$120,000 per year in savings. Two damper drives control heated and
tempering primary air to a common duct. A third damper feeds hot hair to
the pulverizer. A distributed control system (DCS) positions 21 dampers to
maintain a target temperature within the pulverizer and to develop air flow
to the correct amount, so that ground coal can be transferred to furnace
burners. Secondary air from the two FD fans turns to wind boxes. A pulverizer
then feeds the coal to a row of burners. This controls ID fan inlet dampers
while fans speeds are between 17-25 percent maximum. High speed fans
mean the dampers are open and the draft is controlled only by fan speed.

These drives come with field-mounted contract electronic units and HART
protocol communication capability. The unit is processor controlled and
receives 20mA set point signals from the digital control system. It feeds
back 20 mA signals representing the signals precise actuator positions. This
unit controls the need for torque or limit switches. When voltage is cutoff, the
motor is cutoff from its power source. This device utilizes digital positioning,
known as a smart drive. These digital drives can use advanced frequency
converter technology to vary torque or travel speed of the intelligent
actuators. This unit eliminates the need for torque or limit switches. [8]



120 x Frequency
number of poles

2. Where frequency is in Hertz


Horse Power=Torque x RPM

Where Torque is in Newton meters

Figure 1: Speed Equations [9]
To calculate the speed of the AC motor (at the shaft), equation 1 can be
used. The rated frequency and number of poles is both nameplate data that
is known. This relationship implies that a change in frequency will lower the
speed of the motor. The second equation in Figure 1 shows the relationship
between horsepower, torque, and speed (RPM). This equation shows that if
the speed is increased then the torque will decrease while the horsepower
remains the same. One more basic property is the voltage divided frequency
ratio (V/Hz). For a desired speed and assuming constant current, this ratio
remains the same so it can be inferred that if the frequency increases, then
the voltage can decrease, leading to lower power consumption at the rated
torque. These basic properties of AC motors lead to the implementation of
the VFD. A VFD makes use of the properties just discussed. A VFD varies the
frequency of the AC voltage that is input into the AC motor. The VFD can
increase and decrease the frequency. A fan motors efficiency can be raised
with VFDs in a couple ways. One way is that a VFD can allow a fan to
operate at many different speeds. When less cooling is required, the VFD
reduces the speed. Currently, fan output is regulated by mechanical
dampers, which limit airflow, but not power input on the motor. [9] Also, a
VFD can provide a slow rate of acceleration when the fan is needed to run in
a low power mode. [10] According to Harshman, VFDs have accurate and
precise controls that are simple to work. Also, he states that certain VFDs
can achieve 95% rated voltage (power) when the load is lessened. Overall, a

VFD is a device that will make fans more efficient by utilizing the properties
of AC motors concerning frequency and speed. A fan with a VFD can run
more efficiently, and will also be easier to control and monitor. Theoretically,
VFDs would be an excellent option to consider for ensuring fans to run more
Integration of VFDs
The VFD can be very easily integrated into the existing system of a
plant by putting in line between the power source and the motor itself.
Switches will be put in place to operate the VFD and have an override in
which the fan would run at full speed, in case of VFD failure. VFD integration
used on an ID fan of a 300MW coal fired power plant located in north-east of
Yunnan province is estimated to have a power saving rate of 43.8%. [11] The
VFD will enable the motor to run at lower frequencies causing the fan to run
at lower speeds, which will result in lower power consumption.
Possible Vendors
VFDs may be obtained from many different vendors including Kirby
Risk, Springfield Electric, Siemens, and Flanders Electric. Flanders Electric
has a local office in Marion, IL.
Codes and Standards
As stated in the National Electrical Code; when dealing with AC motors
with adjustable voltage or variable torque drive systems the ampacity of
conductors and the ampere rating of all safety switches including, branchcircuits, short-circuits, and ground-faults shall be based on the maximum
operating current that is stated on the motor nameplate [12]. In addition, the
over current protection should be set to 125% of the phase converter
nameplate single-phase input full-load amps [13].
Coal power plants operate on a few basic principles; however, many of
them are aging, and are in need of more efficient operating methods. The
forced draft and induced draft fans are some of the highest consumers of
energy in the entire power plant. One of the possible solutions to cut down
on energy use and be more efficient would be to look at placing variable
frequency drives on FD and ID fans throughout the plant. Overall, the focus
of this project is to increase efficiency of the auxiliary loads at coal power
plants, and in turn help lower consumer prices.

Electric Power Plant Design, Headquarters, Department of the Army,
Washington, DC,
1984. pp. 1-1
Binstock, Morton. "Coordinated control for power plant forced and
induced draft fans during startup and fan speed changes." Patent Storm.
N.p., 1980. Web. 7 Oct 2010.
ProcessRegister. "Forced Draft Fans." Process, Energy and Greater
Industries Manufacturer Directory - Buy, Sell, Trade with Industrial Suppliers,
Exporters and Importers. 07 Oct. 2010. Web. 07 Oct. 2010.
Hudson Products Corporation. "FinFin Technical Info." Welcome to
Hudson Products. 2009. Web. 07 Oct. 2010.
(2010, October 6) Centrifugal_fan. [Online]. Available:
(2010, October 7) The Steam Generator. [Online]. Available:
(2010, October 7) Digitial Positioners. [Online]. Available:
(2010, October 6) Convential Coal Power Plant. [Online]. Available:
ABB Inc. - Drives and Power Electronics. (2010, October 4) VariableFrequency Drives
Upgrade Reactor Circulating Pumps. [Online]. Available:
[10] M. Harshman. (2010, September 26) Variable-Frequency Drives
Upgrade Reactor
Circulating Pumps. [Online]. Available:

[12] National Electrical Code. 2008 Edition. National Fire Protection

Quincy, MA. 2007 pp. 304
[13] National Electrical Code. 2008 Edition. National Fire Protection
Quincy, MA. 2007 pp. 347