Concerns related to global warming and environmental pollution concerns have pressured coal-fired power plants to improve efficiency and reduce emissions. However, the conventional efficiency improvement methods — increasing steam pressure and temperature and reducing condenser pressure are limited by material technology and the temperature of the available cooling medium. The next step for increasing efficiency would be to add additional reheat or regenerative cycles, but this is not feasible for existing plants.

In addition, as the share of renewable energy and the grid’s demands on the coal-fired power plants increases, China’s coal-fired units are faced with more and tougher challenges, including large peak-valley gaps, frequent startups and shutdowns and cost pressures. As a result, the boiler combustion efficiency decreases and incidents such as furnace explosions, aggravation and collapsing of slag and burning of facilities located downstream of the economizer become more frequent.

To address these problems, the generalized regeneration theory has been proposed and a series of related technologies have been developed, providing a new approach for not only improving the efficiency of coal-fired power plants, but also resulted in boiler operation that is cleaner and safer. These technologies which include anew boiler startup technology, the high efficiency combustion and low emission technology under low load and the low oxygen, and a low NOx and high efficiency combustion technology under high load have been implemented successfully in the Shanghai Waigaoqiao No. 3 power plant.

By improving the utilization of turbine extraction and reducing the exhaust loss, these innovative technologies greatly improve the environmental performance, efficiency and safety of the units in various operating conditions. In addition, improvements have been made in the boilers ability to adapt to changing coal supplies, particularly for coal with high slagging tendencies and high moisture content.

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