Frame 6 Users Group expands the value proposition of participation

The need to do more with less should not surprise anyone in the electric-power business these days. Even user groups are putting the pedal to the metal to help make a new generation of engineers and technicians productive more quickly than, perhaps, ever before in peacetime.

Gone is the time when new employees primarily learned “on the job.” That training regimen doesn’t work with today’s small staffs. And it’s the rare employer that’s going to send someone off for a month-long training program given the expense. Also, who’s going to do the work when the trainee is gone?

John F D Peterson

The steering committee of the Frame 6 Users Group recognizes this and has integrated a 6B-frame-specific course on engine design, operation, and maintenance into the organization’s annual meeting for the first time this year. The discussion leader is the eminently qualified John F D Peterson (photo), one of the founders of the user group with more than three decades of relevant engine experience.

The half-day course, Monday afternoon, June 11 (the day before the conference begins), will be fast-paced and conducted in four sessions of about 50 minutes each, with short breaks between them. Each attendee will receive a course workbook with descriptions of components, definitions of technical terms specific to the 6B, a listing of common operational and maintenance issues, etc. This document will be an invaluable aid for the meeting and in the plant afterwards.

Here’s a summary of the subject matter included in the course:

    • Design history of the Frame 6B.

    • Performance characteristics.

    • Instrumentation, controls, and protection.

    • Generator issues.

    • Review of “The “Green” Books,” including schematics, alarm list, etc.

    • Glossary of 6B jargon.

    • Failure mechanisms (low- and high-cycle fatigue, creep rupture, oxidation, etc) and modifications made to key components since the engine’s introduction.

    • Typical maintenance scopes for HGP and major inspections and how intervals are determined.

    • What to expect in the upcoming user sessions, vendor fair, and GE Day.

Anyone who knows John Peterson will tell you this session alone is worth the conference registration fee. Few know as much about this frame as he does.

Another benefit of participation in this group is access to engine-focused webinars between annual meetings. This helps keep users engaged throughout the year. The first such webinar, held in early March, focused on repairs technologies and lessons learned. More webinars will be conducted going forward.

Attendee profile. Frame 6B gas turbines are the heart of many cogeneration systems, and the O&M personnel responsible for them are a breed apart from most users the editors meet at industry meetings. The typical 6B user is a highly experienced “lifer” responsible for keeping steam flowing from his or her cogen facility to one or more process units.

The lives of 6B owner/operators rarely are controlled by a grid contract, by the need to “fill in” around must-take renewables, or by power prices. In their world, electricity is simply a byproduct of steam production, a world where an empty steam pipe means you might well be looking for employment elsewhere tomorrow.

Such a challenging environment is conducive to a practical solutions-driven mindset. It’s not news that some cogen-plant owners consider power production a “necessary evil” and keep O&M budgets lean, opting to spend on process facilities first. Their belief is that end-product investments will produce a better return—at least until a gas turbine is forced out of service.

Adding to the financial challenge is that many cogen facilities are not supported by a corporate engineering staff, and instead rely heavily on the talents of very-capable deck-plates personnel. The Frame 6 Users Group contributes to success by providing a “technical solutions lifeline” for its membership and the reason many of these people continue to attend meetings year after year—some since the group was founded 30 years ago.

Agenda. Meetings begin on Monday evenings with a welcome reception and dinner. Tuesday is reserved for open discussion sessions among users, plus presentations by owner/operators and invited providers of equipment and services. It concludes with a vendor fair that runs from 5 pm until 8:30—a long day. Wednesday is GE Day. Thursday morning (the formal meeting concludes at noon) has the same format as Tuesday.

Sessions on Tuesday and Thursday are dedicated to presentations and open discussion on safety, auxiliaries, generators and excitation systems, I&C, compressor section, combustion section, and turbine section.

2018 Conference and Vendor Fair

Marriott Sawgrass Golf Resort & Spa

Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla 

June 11 to 14

 

Steering Committee

Co-Chair: Jeff Gillis, ExxonMobil Research & Engineering Co
Co-Chair: Sam Moots, Colorado Energy Management

James C Rawls, BASF-Geismar Site
Brian Walker, Foster Wheeler Martinez Inc
Mike Wenschlag, Chevron Global Power
Zahi A Youwakim, Huntsman Petrochemical

www.frame-6-users-group.org

 

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‘Self-inflicted logic forcing’ associated with the Mark V remains a mystery

A year has gone by since Abel Rochwarger, chief engineer at Gas Turbine Controls (GTC), shared with CCJ ONsite’s editorial team his report on an incident in which the Mark V control system on a GE F-class gas turbine inexplicably shut down all the unit’s lube-oil pumps causing extensive damage. Rochwarger said the customer’s team investigating the incident found out that the malfunction was “logic forcing without operator intervention”—hence the term “self-inflicted logic forcing.” CCJ’s editorial staff followed up with Abel for an update, just ahead of the 7F Users Group’s annual meeting, where GTC will be exhibiting Wednesday, May 9.

The OEM obviously took notice of the Mark V malfunction given that sixteen days after the CCJ ONsite’s publication, it released Product Service Information Bulletin (PSIB) 20170519A, “Mark V Communication Interface Overload—Loss of Lube Oil.” According to the PSIB, the OEM’s team simulated the site conditions in a laboratory environment and were able to confirm the self-inflicted logic forcing.

In Rochwarger’s opinion, the tests made a positive contribution to the collective knowledge—for example, by dispelling the suspicion of a possible cyber attack. But they also proved, he said, “there is a bug buried deep—and latent—in the core of the control system, which under some conditions, will manifest itself as it did in the incident described last year.” An analogy, in PC-user’s terms, the chief engineer continued, “If the Mark V configuration and sequence is the software, the bug lurks in the operating system.”

Rochwarger believes the bug is likely to remain, because the OEM probably cannot allocate any valuable engineering resources to eliminate a bug in a mature and discontinued product like the Mark V. Rochwarger recommends that users familiarize themselves with the PSIB, which provides a list of guidelines to prevent, in Rochwarger’s words, the “haywire scenario.”  

So, what should a prudent operator realistically consider to “quarantine” the bug? First, suggests Rochwarger: Assess the risk. The PSIB provides excellent guidelines for doing this, he says. Second: Evaluate the situation with the incumbent parties, and define the appropriate protective measures for the site. It should be noted that, for many Mark V operators, a very reasonable conclusion for their situation will be that no action is required. After all, the Mark V has been running in hundreds of plants, with hundreds of thousands of successful operating hours since the early 1990s, and last year’s incident was the first self-inflicted-logic-forcing event ever registered. Third (if required): Implement PSIB recommendations that apply, and consider eventually adding some “foolproof,” hardwired protective measures.

The primary concern is, at a minimum to keep, the DC emergency pumps (Lube and Seal Oil) running even if the Mark V goes “haywire.” This can be accomplished by implementing certain hardwired logic modifications of the Motor Control Center (MCC). And, in the case of gas turbines, an additional modification can be implemented in order to ensure that the control sequence that cycles the DC emergency pumps in case of a complete AC failure stays intact.

Rochwarger told the editors that GTC’s service team can provide an assessment, and develop, implement, commission, and test these modifications to ensure the foregoing protection measures are satisfied. He estimated it would take about four days onsite during a shutdown to implement the hardwired mods.

Finally, the editors asked GTC’s chief engineer if the Mark V bug might have carried over to subsequent versions of the system; Abel wouldn’t hazard a guess, and commented, “This event took us all, literally all, by surprise. And, although this is a question for GE, since it happened over a year ago, knowing first-hand GE’s prudent and conservative approach, combined with their commitment to the highest quality standards, we would expect that they carried out their due diligence to ensure the integrity of their newer products. So, without any further communications, the logical conclusion is: no news is good news.”

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Film-forming substances (FFS): The next frontier in cycle chemistry

If you’ve been in the power-generation business for a couple of decades—and made your bones at baseload, coal-fired, water-cooled plants, in particular—you may believe you know all there is to know about Rankine-cycle steam/water chemistry. Perhaps that’s true, for that type of facility.

But with coal-fired plants being shuttered in increasing numbers you may find yourself transitioning to a combined-cycle facility starting one or more times daily and equipped with air-cooled condensers and designed for zero liquid discharge. This is a new ballgame with respect to chemistry. You can almost forget what you know; in any event, positively embrace re-education.

Neutralizing amines and filming products are relatively new to many in the industry because their potential for reducing corrosion in heat-recovery steam generators (HRSGs), condensers, and steam turbines was not of great importance to personnel at traditional steam plants operating baseload with tight control of chemistry.  

In these days of must-take renewables they warrant consideration. If you attended either of the first two meetings of the HRSG Forum with Bob Anderson you likely are aware of how amines and filming products have benefitted some users. EPRI’s Steve Shulder provided a backgrounder on how these products work at the first conference. It’s a good primer on the topic and will answer some of your basic questions.

Next, access online at no cost, the IAPWS (International Association for the Properties of Water and Steam) Technical Guidance Document (TGD) “Application of Film-Forming amines in Fossil, Combined Cycle, and Biomass Power Plants” (TGD 8-16). This is said to be the first public guidance document published for the industry on the subject. It was developed under the leadership of Dr Barry Dooley of Structural Integrity Associates Inc, who serves as the executive secretary of IAPWS.

Dooley’s presentation at the first HRSG Forum included information that he would share at the First International Conference on Film Forming Amines and Products in Lucerne, Switzerland, two months later. The well-respected chemist and metallurgist chaired both the Lucerne and second (Prague, Czech Republic, Mar 20-22, 2018) topical meetings. The 2019 meeting will be held in Athens, Greece, next March.

It’s probably fair to say that the chemistry of amines and filming products is somewhere in the middle stage of development: Some things are known, but there’s a lot more to learn despite the use of some products for three decades. In fact, even the generic name associated with these chemicals has changed recently. Dooley told the editors that feedback from the 2017 Lucerne meeting indicated much confusion regarding the various terms used for film-forming substances—for example, film-forming amines (FFA), film-forming amine products (FFAP), film-forming products (FFP), and others.

So IAPWS used its leadership position in the international scientific community to adopt the term “film-forming substances (FFS)” shortly before the Second International Conference on Film Forming Amines and Products and then changed the name of the meeting to the Second FFS International Conference. It attracted some 70 participants from 30 countries, illustrating the increasing interest worldwide in understanding and applying FFS.

Under the FFS umbrella are two subsets of the technology: amine-based substances (FFA and FFP), and non-amine-based FFPs.

The second international meeting provided a highly interactive forum for the presentation of new information and technology related to FFS, case studies of plant applications, and open discussion among users, equipment and chemical suppliers, university researchers, and industry consultants. The key messages from that conference:

    • If everything is working well at your plant then consider really hard whether using an FFS will make any improvements. If not, consider that the application could cause problems.

    • One clear case for application: If the shutdown frequency of the plant is going to increase, FFS can (perhaps) greatly improve offline protection.

    • If you are considering use of an FFS for any application, be sure to read Section 8, “Operational Guidance for the Continuous Addition of an FFS,” of the IAPWS technical guidance document referenced above. It will help you avoid mistakes and potential problems.

    • Before applying an FFS to your plant, be sure its chemistry is well understood. Do not hesitate to hire one or more experts for advice before making a decision. Perhaps the biggest challenge facing users in FFS selection is the proprietary nature of these formulations. Suppliers typically are unwilling to disclose “what’s inside.” Don’t inject anything into the steam/water circuit that you are not completely comfortable with.

    • Get a thorough work-up on system chemistry before adding an FFS, this to develop a baseline condition for comparison purposes later.

FFS 2018 allowed plant owner/operators to get answers to many of their questions relating to the use of FFS from the assembled community of international experts. A panel session focusing on key questions and uncertainties about FFS got “two thumbs up” from several attendees.

Other conference highlights included the following:

    • Updates were presented on recent experiences at fossil, nuclear, and industrial plants worldwide. The experience at nuclear plants has been with octadecylamine (ODA), whereas a wide range of FFS is being applied to fossil and industrial plants. The experience of FFP on condensate polishing and methods of determining FFA on surfaces were discussed.

    • Attendees shared ongoing research activities at different international organizations concerning decomposition products of FFA, distribution of FFA, measuring/quantifying the concentration of FFS in cycle water, adsorption kinetics of film formation, and the effects of FFS on flow-accelerated corrosion (FAC).

    • Extensive discussions reviewed the possible benefits of using FFS. They also identified many problems still occurring worldwide in plants using FFS without the detailed knowledge suggested by Section 8 of the IAPWS TGD. However, there wasn’t much open discussion on these problems. One of Dooley’s goals for the next meeting is to dig deeper into specific experience issues.

    • Two main conclusions from the conference: (1) Hydrophobicity does not always equate to protection, and (2) FFS cannot be quoted as “reducing” FAC simply by indicating a reduction in monitored iron levels. Regarding the second point, there should be before/after data for any application, with supporting photos if possible.

    • The need for adapting sampling and monitoring concepts to the specific FFS chemistry applied was recommended.

    • Gaps in knowledge and topics for further research were identified. For example, fundamental work remains to better understand the mechanisms at play with FFS. This includes film formation kinetics, equilibrium and stability, film structure (that is, thickness or number of layers), how absorption is affected by other amines, and the correspondence to the reduction in corrosion rate.

    • Work is required to understand the mechanism of the interaction between FFS and surface oxides. This was discussed as “interfacial science” and should involve the interaction of the FFS film with existing surface to include, initially, Fe3O4, Fe2O3, FeOOH, CuO, and CuO2. Also needed is work on the interactions that occur under feedwater conditions up to about 575F, where magnetite is soluble.

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Safety: The starting point for Frame 6 User Group meetings as well as plant operations

Review of safe work practices never gets old; there’s always something to learn. Over the last decade, safety has taken hold as a “religion” on the deck plates. Virtually no maintenance activities are undertaken today without a safety review—at US plants at least.

Co-chair of the Frame 6 Users Group, Jeff Gillis may be the ideal session leader on safety given his global perspective. He has engineering management responsibilities at ExxonMobil for generating equipment worldwide, which demands that he know both how other countries and cultures assure worker safety and what their regulations are. OSHA is not global, and America does not have all the answers.

The safety forum at last year’s meeting was one of the most meaningful ever at a user-group conference, in the editors’ experience. It ran from the opening bell to the morning coffee break—nearly two hours. Fire protection was the first topic. A user charged with replacing his plant’s Halon system wanted to know from attendees what they would do and why. He had been thinking CO2 but thought it expensive.

The moderator said his company prefers water mist today. Another user who had experienced a few Halon discharges and found it difficult to get refills, opted for CO2. The switchover was relatively simple, he said. Spray nozzles had to be modified but the piping basically was fine the way to was—except that the CO2 bottles took up more space than the Halon ones.

He was not familiar with safety procedures concerning door opening and entry with CO2 armed. It was brought to the group’s attention at this point that recent 6Bs, made in Belfort, France, are built to different standards than the legacy machines made here. They initiate a unit trip when you open the compartment door.

Another user said that during commissioning of his facility, the CO2 system was armed a little too early and the plant experienced a release with people in the compartment. Thankfully, no one was hurt. He suggested a lock on the CO2 valve or a blank flange to prevent such an accidental release.

Someone else offered that a challenge at his plant was getting operators to close the compartment door properly after entry. Not much protection from CO2 with a door ajar. Maintenance of door handles was stressed as at least part of the solution to avoid a safety breach of this type.

Problems encountered in identifying failing or failed sensors was another subject brought to the floor. Proper wiring is important the group was told. Be sure the temperature limit of your wiring is above the compartment temperature. Poor-quality conduit should be avoided, too. One contributor to the discussion said at his plant they wire sensors to relays to identify failed sensors.

Haz-gas detection was the next subject. An attendee said the detectors installed in his unit, made in Belfort, must be calibrated every 360 days or they go to a “false state.” Others in the room suggested a six-month interval, to be on the safe side. A user mentioned that his units run 12 to 18 months between maintenance outages. Because they can’t get inside to maintain their detectors, the instruments were moved outside the package.

In Europe, the owner/operators were told, a unit will trip if there’s no air flow through the package, to protect against a gas leak. This was considered too conservative by at least one user because you may trip the machine unnecessarily. He suggested a runback instead of a trip on haz-gas detection. About half of the users in attendance said they had in-package haz-gas detection capability. Most do not shut the gas valve as a first action when alerted; rather, they opt for a runback or fired shutdown.

Next topic was safety when performing maintenance on top of the unit. No easy fleet-wide solution given the variety of plant/equipment arrangements. Restraint systems require a free fall of 6 ft or so to work properly; plus, there’s a weight limit that may not be compatible with structural members at the tie-off point. Scaffolding may be the best solution in many cases.

One user created a diagram of tie-off points, where you need PPE, scaffolding, etc, because there typically are new safety personnel for each outage and they will interpret codes differently. Having this information available beforehand they know what’s required and won’t drive site people crazy.

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Webinar focuses on OEM’s initiatives to better serve Frame 6 users 

At user group meetings, OEMs sometimes are treated with the same reverence as the visiting team in a big sports rivalry. And that’s fine. But just as the game must be played, OEMs should have a significant presence at annual users conferences because they designed, built, and probably installed your gas turbines. At a minimum, owner/operators should have open lines of communication with their OEMs. And vice versa.

Two ways user groups enable collaboration is by way of webinars they sponsor and/or endorse, and face-to-face meetings. Frame 6 users participated in a webinar conducted by GE in March on engine repairs. It was a good primer for the 2018 Conference and Vendor Fair, June 11-14, at the Marriott Sawgrass Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. 

Owner/operators were able to reconnect with OEM engineers having years of 6B experience, as well as listen to members of the GE service team whom they hadn’t met, on the subject of engine repairs. With the annual meeting only three months after the webinar, participants had the opportunity to jot down discussion points and questions to make their attendance at the conference more productive.

The webinar focused on quality and the technologies used to make quality repairs. It was hosted by Erik Hilaski, the 6B product manager and a familiar face, and Daniel Vandale, the 6B engineering platform manager. The speakers were Emily Phillip, global repairs quality manger, and Marek Wojciechowski, engineering manager for repairs development.

The presentations generally focused on how the OEM operates today—that is, the processes it uses to deliver quality results—with some examples to illustrate points. Users can get the engineering and metallurgical details on repairs by attending the upcoming meeting.

Phillip began by familiarizing webinar participants with GE’s quality strategy, built on these four pillars:

    • Customer experience.

    • Quality planning and assurance.

    • Quality control and improvement.

    • Quality culture.

To illustrate the first point, the OEM’s goal is to have the best running fleet and service experience—with fast and transparent issue resolution. Critical to this effort are proactive customer outreach and timely root-cause problem-solving. Simple compliant processes, important to quality planning and assurance, are enabled by a robust audit program for both the process and product, and a quality management system.

The foundation for quality control includes a goal of zero escapes and continuous improvement of processes. A quality culture is critical to success, as is a safety culture. Employees must be able to feel, hear, and see quality and be committed to the mission. Communication, training, governance, strategy deployment, and visible leadership are important here.

Phillip next ran through how the global repair solutions organization responds to a customer issue—including working with the end user to decide on a solution, conducting an RCA, etc. That was followed by the communications initiatives to keep everyone informed who needs to be informed—such as top issues calls, defect review meetings, quality summary documentation, etc.

Recent improvements credited to the revamped quality initiative included scrap reduction in the repair of first-stage nozzles, a go/no-go gauge to facilitate inspection of radial-seal height, “softer” handling procedures to reduce the probability of chipping the coatings on airfoils.

Wojciechowski then took center stage to discuss the OEM’s 6B repair process from incoming inspection of coatings and flow tests through damage assessment. He stressed the need for operational data in as much detail as is available and recommended a sit-down to review specific customer upgrades and modification requests. Repair execution, the next topic, included everything from personnel and processes to support the repair, to coatings and consumables requirements, to packaging and shipment.

Value-added repairs was an interesting part of the presentation. An example was the partial tip coating of a first-stage bucket to reduce cost and extend the operating cycle. Where possible, it can substitute a medium repair for a heavy repair and avoid the need to strip and recoat the entire bucket. Only damage in the tip area is prepped, welded, and recoated.

Wojciechowski then ran through coatings (including full-body TBC) and mods for first-stage buckets, shroud blocks, and nozzles as well as second-stage nozzles.

Perhaps of greatest interest to this economy-minded group was the segment on the OEM’s repair approach to non-OEM parts—including those from Wood Group, Ansaldo Thomassen, PSM, and Sulzer. Due diligence includes engineering involvement at the bidding stage, detailed component data, inspection prior to repair, defined work scope, etc.

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PRODUCT DESIGN ENGINEER WANTED (Tempe)

The JASC Corporation specializes in the design and production of high-reliability components for pneumatic, hydraulic, and fuel systems. Since its inception in 1990, JASC has been providing fluid control solutions and advanced products for the aircraft, spacecraft, and power generation industries.

Requirements:
BSME+8 years or MSME+4 years experience in valve design and development. Candidate must have a demonstrated working knowledge in the following technical areas:

• Valve/fluid system design and test methods
• 3D design software
• FEA structural analysis
• Heat transfer and thermal management techniques

Responsibilities:
Successful candidate will be responsible for the design and development of valves and fluid control products for use in harsh environments. Candidate will manage all aspects of a project – from concept definition to product development to production – including 3D design, analysis, testing, reporting, and customer/subcontractor interfacing. He/she will also participate in proposal preparation.

Software:
Knowledge or familiarity with the following: MS Word/Excel/PowerPoint. Knowledge of Solidworks is a plus.

Working knowledge of gas turbine engine operation and/or related combustion systems is desirable.

Successful candidate will be part of a highly motivated and talented engineering group. Must be able to work independently and work well with others to achieve project goals. U.S. citizenship desired, but not required.

Benefits: Medical Insurance, Profit Sharing, 401k, Bonuses, Paid Holidays, Vacation

Salary: Competitive, commensurate w/ education and experience

If interested, please contact: 

Marla Evangelista
Phone: 602-889-3715
Marla@jasc-controls.com 

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