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How to meet emission standards, while savings costs?

Adjust your control system to ensure optimal boiler performanceTocopilla boiler emission standards chilean power plant

Is your plant facing new and stricter emission standards? Do not rely solely on new equipment to achieve compliance. Also have a look at your boiler control system and process parameters. By doing so, a Chilean power plant took a big step in meeting the country’s new emission standards and saving half a million US dollars.

The Chilean government announced the implementation of new, stricter emission standards. Reason enough for a Chilean power plant to implement new combustion equipment and new flue gas treatment equipment. The plant contacted Tractebel Engineering to coordinate the project, who in turn called in various experts for specific sub-tasks in the project: plant owner E-CL for its operational knowledge, Promecon for the calibration of the plant’s instrumentation, and Laborelec for its instrumentation and controls (I&C) expertise.

Increasing boiler stability

Our I&C experts investigated the boiler control system and parameters. This revealed a series of inefficiencies. For instance, the Chilean power plant had considerable CO peaks. By calibrating some critical measurement tools and solving the instabilities in certain control loops enabled to tackle this problem and reduced the risk of incomplete combustion and the subsequent formation of CO.

Letting the boiler operate more flexibly

In addition, the I&C experts discovered that the boiler process was reacting too slowly. Rethinking the original boiler control system made the process operate more flexibly. For example, it previously took 20 minutes to set the temperature output of the coal mills, whereas now it only takes 4 minutes. In addition, the air and coal control were also strongly improved. As a result, a fast and stable control was achieved, a key point to ensure flexibility.

Reducing costs along the way

Next to the adjustments to the control system, the project team also audited the complete combustion system from a mechanical point of view, calibrated measurement devices in the combustion process, and refurbished mechanical equipment (coal mills and control dampers). Because of all of these interventions, the Chilean power plant was able to meet the new and stricter emission standards. What is more, the plant also realized considerable cost savings. For instance, the project reduced the rate of unburned coal from 16 % to 6 %, leading to a $ 300,000 reduction in the plant’s annual coal cost. The plant also saw its backend temperature decline significantly, resulting in an additional $ 150,000 reduction in the annual coal cost.

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