This paper presents an method for heat rate monitoring of power plants which employs a true “systems approach”. As an ultimate monitoring parameter, derived from Second Law concepts, it quantifies system losses in terms of fuel consumption by individual components and processes. If electricity is to be produced with the least un-productive fuel consumption, then thermodynamic losses must be understood and minimized. Such understanding cuts across vendor curves, plant design, fuels, Controllable Parameters, etc. This paper demonstrates that thermal losses in a nuclear unit and a trash burner are comparable at a prime facia level. The Second Law offers the only foundation for the study of such losses, and affords the bases for a true and ultimate indicator of system performance. From such foundations, a Fuel Consumption Index (FCI) was developed to indicate specifically what components or processes are thermodynamically responsible for fuel consumption. FCIs tell the performance engineer why fuel is being consumed, quantifying that a portion of fuel which must be consumed to overcome frictional dissipation in the turbine cycle (FCITCycle), the combustion process (FCIComb), and so forth; and, indeed, how much fuel is required for the direct generation of electricity (FCIPower). FCIs have been particularly applicable for monitoring power plants using the Input/Loss Method. FCIs, Δheat rates based on FCIs, and an “applicability indicator” for justifying the use of Reference Bogey Data are all defined. This paper also presents the concept of “dynamic heat rate”, based on FCIs, as a parameter by which the power plant operator can gain immediate feedback as to which direction his actions are thermally headed: towards a lower or higher heat rate.

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