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!

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