Brad Bueker, Power Engineering
The steam condenser of a power plant boiler is a critical heat exchanger in the process. Poor performance due to restricted heat transfer can have a dramatic influence on unit efficiency. And, condenser tube leaks will introduce impurities to the condensate that can cause severe steam generator damage.
Part 1 of this article examines fundamental thermodynamics of condenser heat transfer, and how efficiency losses can cost a plant much money. In Part 2, my colleague Kevin Boudreaux and I will examine how waterside fouling and scaling (and excess air in-leakage on the steam-side) can affect condenser performance, and in Part 3 we will review chemistry upsets that occur due to in-leakage of cooling water into condensate.
Too often, plant personnel feel that they can safely operate for several days or even weeks with a condenser tube leak to keep producing power. The negative results of such actions can be monumental.