HRSG Technology and other recent books

Safe to say, it is the rare engineer who wants to write. . .anything. Other than the required company internal reports, engineers occasionally will compile technical papers for engineering society meetings, perhaps even a magazine article, typically to gain recognition or to sell something.

It used to be that the table stakes for presenting at an industry meeting was the preparation of a technical paper for review by conference organizers. The large OEMs all had technical writers on staff to translate engineering jargon and poor grammar into acceptable English. But those positions are just memories today, superannuated by computer software, such as PowerPoint. Virtually anyone can put together a series of slides for content review that don’t require complete sentences—simply sound bites—to gain podium access.

So when three engineers, each with three or four decades of experience in technologies important to the electric power industry, publish books within a three-month period, one can assume the literary equivalent of a “100-year flood” has occurred. The books:

HRSGs. Perhaps the most significant work of the three for industry personnel responsible for managing, operating, and/or maintaining hard assets is Eriksen’s. His name is synonymous with HRSGs: Vern is the Eriksen in Nooter Eriksen, which probably has supplied more large heat-recovery steam generators than any other manufacturer in the world. This work was needed by the industry, in the minds of the editors. The only other “boiler book” of note is B&W’s Steam, but it is weak in this area of the technology because the manufacturer was an on-and-off supplier of HRSGs over the years.

Eriksen did not write the book, he edited it. He went out and got top talent in the industry to support the effort by writing individual chapters and then fashioned them into a well-organized reference that you want on your bookshelf. Among his contributors, beyond Nooter Eriksen engineers current and past (like Joe Schroeder), are catalyst experts from BASF Corp, duct-burner experts from John Zink Company, and well-known industry subject-matter experts Barry Dooley, Nancy Stephenson, and Joe Miller.

Key features of the work include the following:

      • Presents the fundamental principles and theories behind HRSG technology, supported by practical design examples and illustrations—many in full color.

      • Includes design details of HRSGs for today’s largest combined-cycle plants, covering the tradeoffs important to financial decision-making.

      • Provides readers the foundation for doing a better job of specifying, procuring, installing, operating, and maintaining HRSGs.

Mayfield’s second book on knowledge management—KM for short—is chock full of useful information, best practices, and lessons learned to help managers extract the greatest value from data available and get the most from their electronic devices and employees. The author should know: He is a seasoned powerplant executive and educator who came up through the hawsepipe in the US Navy, retiring as a submarine commander with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering.

Mayfield is passionate. Knowledge doesn’t just happen, he says, putting mustard on the message: It must be created and captured, shared and transferred, organized and integrated, and it must be managed. He shows readers how to turn information into actionable intelligence; manage complex powerplant systems with ease, efficiency, and effectiveness; and give your organization the competitive advantage required to succeed in the digital age.

Important to note is that all proceeds from the sale of this book go to benefit Wounded Warriors.

Makansi, who has deep experience in engineering and finance, may be the best technical writer in the electric power industry today. He is adept at synthesizing and simplifying complex material while producing a finished product the first time through and at a blistering pace.

Painting by Numbers is short book (150 pages of type you can read without glasses) that you sit down and read when you have a couple of hours. It encourages you to listen and read with understanding and to question virtually everything. We live in a post-fact world as Makansi likes to say; you just can’t nod at numbers and “facts” and accept them without thinking. Examples illustrate how deceiving numbers can be.

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