As more renewable energy sources come on line with the inherent inconsistency of load dispatch feedwater heaters become subject to more frequent and rapid cyclic operation. In a recent project, American Exchanger Services (AM-EX) was asked to gather and analyze operating information on a high pressure feedwater heater during daily rapid load changes. This particular supercritical coal plant was designed to operate in flexible load environments, thus acquiring data during the summer months was optimal.

The heater was run from rest to full power while temperature data was acquired. All data from the study and supporting plant information was used to generate models for preparing maintenance projections, informing future designs, and repair recommendations. The primary component of focus is the desuperheating zone exhaust where tube failure tends to be greatest caused by wet wall conditions.

The result of the analysis was less conclusive than was anticipated. Actual performance of the heaters is a key issue and there were specific indications that the heaters were not performing to specifications. A more detailed thermal performance analysis using the ASME PTC12.1 should be considered to accurately determine the extent to which the heaters are meeting design performance.

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