Boiler Feed Pumps, Chemical Metering Pumps and Hydrostatic Pressure Tests

Written by:
The Hydraulic Institute
June 19, 2013

Q. How are chemical metering pumps used in combined-cycle power plant applications?

A. Numerous applications in a combined-cycle power plant require the delivery of precisely metered quantities of chemicals. Chemical metering pumps are positive-displacement types (see Figure 6.16) and are designed for continuous operation.

One of the key applications is to deliver chemical solutions to control the amount of emissions. Natural-gas-fired, combined-cycle power plants produce approximately one half of the CO2 emissions and one third of the nitrogen oxides (NOx) produced by conventional power plants. They also eliminate sulfur dioxide emissions.

The combustion turbines in a combined-cycle plant produce low NOx and CO2 emissions. The heat recovery steam generator then uses a selective catalytic reduction scrubber system to reduce the NOx to a very low level (approximately 30 percent of a simple-cycle combustion turbine’s NOx emissions using similar technology). Some are as low as 10 percent of the simple-cycle emissions.

The scrubber system is engineered to treat a specific cubic feet per minute range of gas, within a specific temperature range. Further, the system is engineered to reduce the level of contaminants from a specific inlet concentration to a specific outlet concentration. Other typical metering pump applications include boiler feed, cooling tower feed, wastewater treatment, condensate treatment and feeding the makeup water system.

More information about the use of chemical metering pumps in combined-cycle power plants can be found in Power Plant Pumps: Guidelines for Application and Operation to Maximize Uptime, Availability, and Reliability.
Chemical metering pumps

Figure 6.16. Chemical metering pump

Q. What kinds of boiler feed pumps are used in a typical 400-megawatt, combined-cycle 
power plant?

A. No fixed rules are available for selecting the pump type for a boiler feed application. Pump selection depends on a combination of the manufacturer’s application experience and product offerings and the end user’s experience in maintainability and reliability. If the plant will be cycled instead of base loaded, then special consideration must be given to the use of a sufficiently robust and proven pump design.

Electric utilities favor the between-bearings pump arrangement for the highest level of reliability. For pressures up to approximately 1,800 psi (125 bar), typical boiler feed pumps include horizontal multistage ring-section (type BB4, see Figure 6.1) or axial split-case designs (type BB3), although in some applications there may be a preference for a double-case pump (type BB5).

For higher pressures, the boiler feed pump types used are usually multistage ring-section (type BB4) or double-case pumps (type BB5).

Some end users choose to give particular consideration to the main pump construction features. They include:

  • Type BB4 ring-section and type BB5 double-case pump types both have radial sealing joints, which are geometrically simpler than an axial split-case pump sealing joint. The double-case pump has fewer sealing joints than the ring-section pump.
  • Type BB3 axial split-case pumps and the axial split inner casing version of the type BB5 double-case pump allow for the entire assembled rotor to be removed and balanced as a unit. These rotors usually have opposed impeller arrangements that reduce the hydraulic thrust carried by the thrust bearing.
  • The ring-section and double-case pump geometries inherently lend themselves to design for pressure containment. The double-case pump type has an integrally safer containment for pressures exceeding 3,600 psi (250 bar).

For more information about boiler feed pumps and their application in combined-cycle power plants see HI’s newest guidebook Power Plant Pumps: Guidelines for Application and Operation to Maximize Uptime, Availability, and Reliability.
BB4 pump

Figure 6.1. Three-dimensional view of multistage ring-section pump (BB4)

Q. What information is available about hydrostatic pressure tests for rotodynamic pumps?

A.  ANSI/HI 14.6 contains information about this subject. According to this standard, all pressure-containing items of the rotodynamic pump will be hydrostatically pressure tested. The test’s purpose is to demonstrate the absence of leakage through pressure-containing walls of any item under test and from the joints formed by an assembly of items under test by imposing a defined pressure in excess of the rated pressure for which the item is supplied.

Pumps with double volutes, multiple stages and otherwise with internal separating walls that will be tested in segments should have a hydrostatic pressure test applied to each segment related to the operating conditions in the segment when the pump is working at its rated discharge pressure. Pressure-containing chambers that function independently should be tested separately without pressure being applied to any adjacent chamber.

The manufacturer will allow sufficient time during manufacturing for the test and the examination of all the items within the scope of ANSI/HI 14.6. The test may be carried out on an individual item or a subassembly as a group of items.


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