This study examines the upgrade of two forward-curved centrifugal induced draft fans, to support fuel blends with greater fractions of PRB coal for a 160 MWe generating unit. After a post installation event, an audible periodic low frequency vibration in the breeching was noticed at loads ranging from 75–95 MWe. A detailed investigation was conducted which included fluid dynamic and vibration analyses of the fan and system, as well as an assessment of the fan and motor performance characteristics.
Results of the analyses revealed system resistances which generated operating points in the stall region on the fan performance curve. Non-uniform fan inlet flow distributions were characterized by axial and transverse distortion parameters. Data showed relatively high transverse distortion parameters over the affected load range with the maximum of 20.5% distortion occurring at 95 MWe; with a corresponding breeching vibration frequency approximately four-thirds shaft speed.
Based on the data obtained and observed system behavior, it was determined the phenomenon responsible for the flow-induced vibration was the onset of rotating stall. The magnitude of the pressure pulses associated with this low frequency vibration is capable of causing fatigue damage to large ductwork and producing unwanted acoustic emissions. In light of the large number of similar conversions performed throughout industry and increases in partial-load operation, the accurate diagnosis of such phenomenon is vital for reliable plant operations. This work summarizes an effective and practical methodology for making such evaluations, while addressing issues of fan performance and system effects.