Data analytics were used to detect boiler leaks from five different coal-fired boilers including both subcritical and supercritical systems. Discriminant functions were developed that detected leaks up to two weeks prior to forced plant shutdowns for repairs. The leaks were identified to occur at different sections of the boiler for each plant, including waterwalls, economizer and superheater using conventional process measurement data. Leaking conditions were detected with a high degree of confidence (≪ 1% misclassified observations) and were able to distinguish normal operations from those time periods with steam leaks even while operating the power plants in power cycling mode.
Multivariable statistical analyses, including Principal Component (PCA), cluster, and Fischer Discriminant Analysis (FDA) were used to characterize the leak occurrence. Normal and operational states with steam leaks were provided in the original process datasets. These datasets were split into two different groups for training and validation purposes. The data were sorted chronologically, and every third observation was assigned to training the Discriminant Function Model (DFM) while the rest were reserved for validation. PCA was used to reduce dimensionality of the original datasets. Canonical and FDA analyses were used to investigate the relationship between process variables. The outcome of the analyses revealed that nearly 35,000 observations were classified correctly; less than 0.05% of total observations were misclassified to be leaking, i.e. both false positives and false negatives.