Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Birthday to Us!

On this date in 2001, American Efficiency Services opened for business with five full-time employees, a small rental space in Ellicott City, Maryland, and the goal of becoming the industry leader in providing safe, superior, guaranteed Leak Detection, Tube Cleaning, and Industrial Inspections.

Today we've grown to 22 employees and four new office locations, and based on our customers responses, we're doing a pretty good job on that industry leader thing!

Over the past eleven years AES has traveled the world; successfully provided customers with problem-solving information; been awarded numerous long term contracts; and garnered a high level of recognition and respect within the industry.

We are grateful for each one of AES' outstanding employees, who are dedicated to excellence and customer service, and never shy away from hard work. We take pride in our excellent safety record, our "family" work environment, our opportunities for advancement from within, and our average length of employee service.

AES thanks all of our customers for trusting us with your challenges. We thank our subcontractors and business partners for their support. And most of all we thank our employees for helping us grow AES into what it is today ... and what it will be in the years to come.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

We Live For This

The American Efficiency Services philosophy regarding tube cleaning is this: anyone can put a cleaner in a tube and push. The individuals doing the work make the difference in quality.

AES provides crews dedicated to safety, quality job performance and completion. All personnel are full time employees of AES. Our reporting system is ready to transfer photographs and video images to our customers directly from the condenser. We believe that if you don’t know the project status, we aren’t doing our job.

So we are thrilled when we receive a note like the one below, sent to our Project Manager by a well satisfied customer after AES performed tube cleaning services on two units at his plant:

I have been very pleased with the results of AES condenser cleaning activities on Units 1 & 3. The final report is very beneficial for referencing after all of the activities start to mentally run into one event and the details get lost. I had specifically requested a final report from a competitor (of yours) and it was never delivered.

I would like to take one of your final reports and share with some of my peers across our fleet. I would also like to do the same with our purchasing management and include a personal endorsement.

I like the way you guys are driven to succeed and look forward to continued relations.

For more information on AES' tube cleaning services, and to view a demonstration video, please click here .

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

TUBE LEAKS: The Art of Accurately and Efficiently Identifying Them

Condenser tube inspections are conducted with the unit on-line. When an operating unit experiences contamination of the hotwell condensate due to cooling water intrusion from a condenser tube failure, it is imperative the source of leakage be identified immediately. All cooling water contains a much greater concentration of dissolved materials than boiler condensate, so even small leaks can cause gross contamination of a steam generating system.

American Efficiency Services technique and experience can identify most failures within one operating shift of gaining access to the suspected waterbox. This includes the identification, plugging, and retesting of the tube bundle.

During a recent condenser tube inspection at a Midwest US customer’s facility, their unit was operating with hotwell condensate contamination levels of 3.80 ppb sodium and 0.15 microMhos cation conductivity. Once safe access to the tube bundle was achievable, it took only 4.5 hours to locate five (5) sources of leakage.

Although in greater than 90% of all condenser tube inspections a tube failure is identified, in this situation all five sources of leakage were contributed to loose plugs. All the plugs were reseated and then retested with no further indications of leakage. Once the tube bundle was returned to service the hotwell sodium and cation conductivity levels remained within plant specifications.

Identifying condenser tube leaks utilizing helium as a tracer gas, coupled with inspection experience, has proven to be the most cost effective method to date of ensuring peak condenser performance. AES has seen several situations where numerous tubes were plugged in a specific area in a desperate attempt to return the unit to service “leak free”. But plugging additional tubes reduces the efficiency of the condenser prematurely. Even though the condenser is designed to withstand a certain percentage of plugged tubes, the life expectancy of the condenser will be reduced over time.

In contrast, using helium as a tracer gas is precise and quick so only the tube(s) leaking are plugged and the condenser is back doing its job, operating efficiently and making the utility money.

For more detailed information on our services and methodology please visit our website at or call 877-816-9081.

With AES’ guarantee that we will find the leak, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wrestling a Condenser

In a perfect world, you open the condenser waterbox manways and all you have to evacuate from the tubes is mud. Mud can be bad enough in its own right but when you have extensive build up and marine growth, well, you had better be prepared.

AES has had our share of challenging condensers this season. Two of them in particular stood out:
  • A Southwest US power station had hard deposits in the condenser tubes and on the tube sheet when the waterbox doors where opened. The deposits were so thick it took approximately 20 seconds to pass the cleaner the length of the tube (normal time is 3 -5 seconds). 75% of the condenser tubes allowed the cleaners to be loaded, but the remaining 25% would not allow for cleaner insertion. The deposits were so thick that a tube prepping bit had to be used on the first 12 inches of the tube to allow the cleaner to be inserted.

Before photographs of the tube and tube sheet prior to cleaning

Our crew was able to adapt successfully to the "as found" conditions and won the battle with this condenser.

After photographs of the same tube and tube sheet

  • A mid-Atlantic power station that uses brackish water for cooling provided us the most overall project clean-up from start to finish. Our crew had to initiate the cleaning even before getting into the waterbox. The biological growth in the outlet waterbox was so extensive the crew had to “cut” their way into the waterbox. 

Growth at the outlet waterbox manway

Due to water flow restrictions and high temperatures, the growth was extensive in the air removal section and the walls of the waterbox. The growth had to be removed from the waterbox walls prior to cleaning. Air and water was shot through tubes prior to the cleaning in the high growth areas.

Before photographs of the tube and tube sheet prior to cleaning

After cleaning the waterboxes, cleaning the tube sheet, cleaning the tubes, cleaning the scrapers after cleaning each pass of tubes … four waterboxes and more than 27,000 tubes later AES’ crew finally won the battle!

After photographs of the same tube and tube sheet

Yes, we have had our share of routine condenser cleanings this year but we know all too well to be prepared for any and all conditions.

In fact, that’s part of our commitment to our customers – no matter what obstacles exist, AES will provide outstanding service and results!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Patience is a Virtue When Searching for Inleakage Failures

A power plant in Texas with an 830 megawatt turbine / condenser tried various methods and other vendors to identify the source of condenser inleakage that was contributing to >30 scfm of off-gas flow and 3.27” Hg of unit back pressure.  All these attempts failed to pinpoint the root cause of the issue, so in October 2011, American Efficiency Services was called upon for help.

Within the first six hours, AES identified the root cause of high off-gas and back pressure as the 6A Low Pressure Heater, Normal Vent Valve Line.  The line was deteriorated at a weld that was allowing the air into the steam space.

After temporary repairs were made to the leaking area by placing a combination of duct tape and RTV sealant over the breech, the condenser off-gas decreased from >30 scfm to 8 scfm.  There was still leakage recorded through and around the temporary patch during the retests.  Permanent repairs to the vent line were scheduled for the upcoming outage.  There were still nine additional leaks that were not addressed while the inspection crew was on-site.  Condenser off-gas is expected to decrease to <3 scfm after permanent repairs.  That is equivalent to 0.36 scfm per 100 megawatts, well below the industry standard of 1 scfm per 100 megawatts. Finally, the customer had an answer and a plan thanks to the AES crew and their findings.

Indeed, during our years of conducting inspections, we’ve learned that you must be patient and not assume a component is operating under a positive pressure.  It was determined by plant personal that this area was previously overlooked because it was assumed to be operating under a positive pressure.  AES always thoroughly inspects all areas to ensure all leaks are identified during a condenser air inleakage inspection.