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Chemistry Guidelines for Power Plant Boilers and HRSGs

SECTION 5 UNIT CYCLING AND LAY-UP

GENERAL

This sections provides cost-effective standard procedures that can be adapted and
implemented for the proper short-term and long-term lay-up of heat recovery steam
generators (HRSGs), boilers, deaerators, auxiliary boilers and associated steam
cycle equipment in both traditional fossil fuel and combined cycle systems. Note that
the optimum lay-up procedure to be implemented varies depending on site-specific
or lay-up specific variables including anticipated duration of the lay-up, the
equipment present at the plant, and economic conditions such as fuel costs and
contract/market requirements. No procedure can adequately address all of the
different lay-up options. This document captures the most common and widely
accepted procedures, but specific plant capabilities and situations may require
deviation from this guideline. Where deviation is necessary, contact the Nalco
Power SBU for guidance and assistance.

These recommendations assist in the identification of the most appropriate lay-up


procedure to be implemented given the factors noted above. Unless precautions are
taken, corrosion may occur on external and internal surfaces of boilers that are out of
service for any length of time. Proper downtime procedures are extremely important,
since oxygen corrosion occurs more often during out-of-service and startup periods
than during normal operation.

In general, cycling plants should maintain feedwater and drum pH at the upper end
of their respective target ranges. Increase hotwell and / or deaerator levels at
shutdown to maximize the inventory of deaerated water for the subsequent startup.

The choice of storage methods depends on the length of downtime expected. If the
boiler is to be out of service for 6 to 8 weeks or more, dry storage is preferable. Wet
storage is usually suitable for shorter downtimes required for cycling units.

Water used for unit startup should always be deaerated (dissolved oxygen less than
30 ug/L). Many pure merchant designs cannot provide deoxygenated water unless
the plant is running (these plants often do not have an aux boiler, nitrogen sparge
system, or demineralized water storage tank deaeration capability, etc). Such plants
often break vacuum during off-line periods requiring startup with oxygen-laden water.
Plants suffering under these design constraints should be evaluated in detail and
additional action taken to mitigate the damage caused by startup with oxygen-laden
water.

Merchant operation with variable dispatch creates special challenges for lay-up.
Shutdown duration is unknown, yet quick start-up remains critical. In addition, many
systems do not include nitrogen blanketing or external water recirculation capability.

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Most shutdown units cannot be steamed to check chemistry without significant


adverse economic impact. Wet lay-up procedures for these circumstances must be
developed on a case-by-base basis to minimize damage at reasonable cost. If an
auxiliary boiler is present, the drums can be sparged / blanketed with steam during
idle periods to minimize oxygen intrusion and to increase circulation of idle boilers.

The optimum wet lay-up procedure utilizes steam to keep the unit warm and the
drums pressurized, thereby eliminating the potential for oxygen ingress. This
method allows for immediate start-up if dispatched unexpectedly. Other lay-up
methods (cold wet lay-up or dry lay-up) require significantly longer startup times.

If the project has no auxiliary boiler or other steam source, then the plant must select
a dry or cold wet lay-up method that minimizes corrosion while still allowing startup
within the required time. Even if a steam source is available, the selection of the
optimum lay-up method may be influenced by the cost of auxiliary steam production.
Cold wet lay-up is generally less costly (in the near term) than the cost of energy to
keep the unit hot and under pressure, but frequent use of this method may lead to
premature boiler failure or increased iron deposition. It’s important to complete a
short- and long-term cost evaluation and plan prior to laying up any equipment. Wet
lay-up with steam provides the best corrosion protection and should be used unless
economics dictate otherwise.

Figure 5-1 provides a decision tree to assist in the selection of a wet or dry lay-up
option and identifies alternatives under each based on plant-specific conditions,
available equipment, estimated length of lay-up, contractual obligations for start-up
time, local market economics, maximum drum operating pressure, and site ambient
temperature.

As Figure 5-1 demonstrates, the expected out-of-service duration represents the


most critical factor in determining the optimum lay-up method. Contractual issues
also weigh heavily in method selection since some plants may be required to be able
to return to full service in less time than it would take to recover from a specific lay-
up condition. Therefore, plants must review their operational plans, lay-up
procedure and implementation schedule, and energy supply contractual
requirements before selecting the most appropriate lay-up procedure.

Regardless of which lay-up method is chosen, all safety procedures for the selected
lay-up method should be discussed with staff performing the work prior to
implementing the lay-up.

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Figure 5-1: Boiler Lay-up Decision Tree

WET LAY-UP

This section describes the procedures for wet storage. Wet storage of is generally
recommended if the predicted outage time is anticipated to be more than 72 hours
but less than 3 weeks. Proper wet storage of the unit minimizes corrosion of the
internal surfaces by using a pressurized blanket of inert gas or steam to minimize
oxygen ingress and by maintaining pH and passivator / oxygen scavenger
concentrations in the optimum range.

There are two general wet lay-up methods:

1. Short-term wet storage or "bottling up "


2. Long-term wet storage

Regardless of whether a short-term or long-term wet lay-up is selected, hotwell and /


or deaerator water levels should be increased at shutdown to maximize the volume

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of deaerated water available for the subsequent start-up. Attention should also be
paid to ambient temperatures expected during the lay-up period.

If temperatures are expected to drop below 32F, freeze protection methods must be
implemented to minimize the potential for freezing any sections containing water.
Fixed area heaters, portable radiant heaters, or heat exchangers are required to
allow implementation of this lay-up process in areas that experience freezing
temperatures.

Most original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s) recommend an alkaline, reducing


solution supplemented with sufficient ammonia or neutralizing amine to provide the
desired pH. The following table summarizes control ranges for the different wet lay-
up scenarios. It’s important to note that elevated temperatures may be required to
fully activate the chemicals added.

Table 5-1 Summary of Lay-up Methods and Control Ranges


Lay-up Method Short-term Wet Lay-up Long-term Wet Lay-up
Time Period (After Shutdown) < 72 Hours (as long as retains > 72 Hours or when unit cools to
heat and pressure) ambient pressure and
temperature
pH Target Range (All-steel) 9.5-9.6 (High in normal range) 10.0-10.5
pH Target Range (Cu Alloys) 9.2-9.3 (High in normal range) 10.0-10.5
Dissolved Oxygen (ug/L) <100 <100
Hydrazine Target Range (All- 5-10 ug/L (or high in normal 100-200 ug/L
Steel Systems, Active range)
Hydrazine if Dissolved Oxygen
can be controlled less than 100
ug/L)*
Elimin-Ox Residual Target 75-150 ug/L (or high in normal 1500-3000 ug/L
Range (All-Steel Systems, if range)
Dissolved Oxygen can be
controlled less than 100 ug/L)*
Hydrazine Target Range (All- Find and fix air leaks – do not 5.0-6.5 mg/L
Steel Systems, Active overfeed passivator for short
Hydrazine if Dissolved Oxygen term wet lay-up
cannot be controlled)*
Elimin-Ox Residual Target Find and fix air leaks – do not 75.0-100.0 mg/L
Range (All-Steel Systems if overfeed passivator for short
Dissolved Oxygen cannot be term wet lay-up
controlled)*
*Passivator target ranges approximately three times higher for copper alloys

Ammonia Generation from Passivator Overfeed

Hydrazine generates approximately 0.7 mg/L of ammonia for every 1 mg/L of


active hydrazine residual. Similarly, carbohydrazide generates approximately 0.5
mg/L of ammonia for every 1 mg/L of active carbohydrazide residual. Wet lay-up
relies on elevated passivator feed to minimize corrosion. High passivator levels
during the shutdown period may cause high ammonia during the subsequent

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startup. Care must be taken to evaluate the impact of passivator feed on the
subsequent startup.

Elevated passivator feed for lay-up typically manifests itself during startup as high
conductivity, pH, and cation conductivity in the feedwater, condensate, and steam
systems. The magnitude and duration of these increases depends on the amount
of passivator used during the shutdown period. The generated ammonia typically
exits the system through the condenser air removal equipment in 4-6 hours. All-
steel systems need no extra blowdown or condenser draining since the elevated
ammonia poses no significant risk.

Systems with copper-bearing alloys may require extra venting, condenser “feed
and bleed”, and / or extra boiler blowdown to more quickly remove ammonia from
the system. Ammonia damage to such systems can be minimized by minimizing
air in-leakage during both operating and shutdown periods. Specifically, nitrogen
caps or steam sparging can significantly decrease the amount of ammonia
generated during lay-up periods.

Short-term Wet Lay-up

Short-term wet lay-up, or "bottling up", consists of laying up the unit in a warm
pressurized condition by taking advantage of residual heat. Bottling up can
generally be performed when the unit is expected to be out of service for short
periods of time (typically 24 to no more than 72 hrs). Bottling up also results in a
faster start-up time versus a cold start, resulting in time and energy savings.

The goal when “bottling up” is to keep residual heat from escaping and slowing
the pressure decay. As long as positive pressure is maintained within the unit, it
does not require the application of an inert gas blanket or the application of
external steam to prevent air ingress. A longer-term wet lay-up procedure must
be implemented before the boiler pressure decays to atmospheric. The drum
pressure degradation time varies from unit to unit, but most units experience
complete decay to ambient conditions within 72 hours. For this reason, avoid
short-term lay-up for longer than 3 days (72 hours).

Both pH and passivator residual should be elevated to the high end of the normal
operating ranges prior to implementing a short-term wet lay-up. Chemicals are
usually not fed and the system water is usually not sampled while in a short-term
wet lay-up condition.

Short-term Wet Lay-up Equipment Requirements

Short-term wet lay-up is an attractive alternative for many plants because it


does not require any additional equipment. A stack damper, if included, aids in

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heat retention. Chemicals are not typically added or monitored during this lay-
up process; no specialized chemical feed or sampling equipment is required.

Implementation of Short-term Wet Lay-up

Maximize heat retention by closing vents and drains as pressure drops below
150 PSI (<1000 kPa) and closing the stack damper (if available). Maintain
vacuum and close vents on the air removal system. Close feedwater inlet
block valves and the condensate inlet block valve. All steam isolation valves
should remain closed for the duration of a short-term wet lay-up.

Recovery from Short-term Wet Lay-up

No special start-up procedures are required when coming out of a short-term


wet lay-up because water chemistry is maintained at typical operating
conditions, allowing facility staff to simply reverse the steps taken to implement
this lay-up to return to normal operation. If the plant is equipped with a stack
damper, the stack damper needs to be opened before returning to normal
operation. Vents and other valves closed to maintain pressure in the boiler
should also be opened according to normal startup procedures. The unit is
then ready to resume a normal startup.

Long-term Wet Lay-up

The long-term wet lay-up method should be used if the system is expected to be
shutdown for more than 36-72 hours but less than 3 weeks, and must be held
ready for operation. Although wet lay-up may be successfully implemented for
longer periods if required by unique site conditions or economics, dry lay-up is
strongly encouraged if the plant is expected to be down for more than 3
weeks.

Long-term wet lay-up consists of laying up the unit with treated deaerated water to
minimize internal corrosion. The highest quality water available should be used
(normally treated demineralized water or condensate). This lay-up method also
requires application of an inert gas blanket or external steam to maintain system
pressure high enough to prevent oxygen ingress into the steam cycle equipment.

The three most common methods of long-term wet lay-up are:

1. Nitrogen capping.
2. Steam sparging.
3. Steam blanketing

Important items to consider when anticipating a long term wet lay-up:

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• Water should not be introduced into the superheater(s) to avoid the


potential for introducing solids into the superheaters that could lead to
localized overheating or under deposit corrosion after startup of the plant.
• In addition, austenitic stainless steels, such as 300 series stainless steels,
are susceptible to chloride induced stress corrosion cracking from possible
chlorides in the water.

For all long-term wet lay-up procedures:

• Monitor water chemistry throughout the wetted sections of the system for
proper pH as well as ammonia / amine, passivator / scavenger and
dissolved oxygen concentrations.

• Circulate the system water after chemical addition and periodically during
the lay-up to ensure chemical concentrations are consistent throughout the
circuit. This Guideline strongly recommends external circulation be
practiced where available. A small pump drawing from the intermittent
blowdown or lower manifold drain and discharging to the economizer inlet
or vent is typically all that is required. Care must be taken to ensure
adequate mixing. If this flow is too low (and it often is), short circuiting can
occur and sample results will not be indicative of actual boiler chemistry.

Feed ammonia or amine to maintain a pH between 10.0 and 10.5, and feed
passivator / scavenger to achieve a concentration of 100-200 ug/L of measured
hydrazine residual or 1500-3000 ug/L Elimin-Ox residual in the treated water.
Each plant should identify the optimal target concentrations for the lay-up
procedure to be implemented for their particular plant equipment. Higher
passivator targets should be set if a low oxygen environment (<100 ug/L) cannot
be maintained throughout the lay-up period.

Nitrogen Cap of Steam Drum and Superheater

The nitrogen cap long-term wet lay-up method consists of introducing nitrogen
above the drums to maintain positive pressure relative to atmospheric. This
minimizes the potential for oxygen ingress into the steam and water circuits.
The nitrogen fills the superheater(s), minimizing potential moisture entrainment
and associated corrosion in the superheaters. Chemically treated, deaerated
water is maintained at typical operating levels within the drums.

The nitrogen cap typically is initiated after the unit has been “bottled up” to
minimize the amount of nitrogen required. The drum vent should be
maintained closed to conserve pressure for as long as possible prior to the
introduction of nitrogen into the drum and superheater(s).

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This lay-up process will suffice for durations of up to 8 weeks without the need
to drain the HRSG (assuming no freezing issues). However, as noted above,
dry lay-up is recommended for optimal protection during any lay-up lasting
longer than 3 weeks.

a. Nitrogen Capping Equipment Requirements

Lay-up using the nitrogen capping long-term wet storage method requires
additional equipment as compared to that required for implementing short
term wet lay-up. Although not absolutely required, an external
recirculation system is highly recommended, as noted above. This
equipment allows the plant to circulate and mix the system water for the
duration of the lay-up, monitor water quality during the course of the lay-
up and add water treatment chemicals as required. Also, as noted
above, care must be taken to ensure enough flow exists for adequate
mixing. If this flow is too low (and it often is), short-circuiting can occur
and sample results will not be indicative of actual boiler chemistry.

This procedure is easier to implement at plants that are equipped with


motor-operated valves atop the steam drums. If not equipped with a
sufficient number of motor operated valves, the plant may have difficulty
bringing the unit back on-line in a reasonable period of time if dispatched
unexpectedly during the lay-up.

Most importantly, the plant must select between the use of nitrogen
bottles, nitrogen from a larger bulk storage vessel (typically a dewar
flask), or a nitrogen generator. Because the plant cannot determine how
much nitrogen will be required for nitrogen capping until after the first lay-
up, nitrogen bottles are initially recommended. The plant should then
determine the actual nitrogen use and calculate the most cost-effective
nitrogen supply option. Nitrogen is typically fed via valves located
between the drums and the superheater section(s).

Particular care must be taken if nitrogen generators are used. Dissolved


oxygen in the boiler water is directly proportional to the % oxygen in the
produced nitrogen gas.

b. Implementation of Nitrogen Cap

Raise the hotwell and drum levels to provide treated water for the next
startup prior to shutdown. Also, inject treatment chemicals as needed to
raise concentrations in the hotwell, feedwater and drums to the high end
of the recommended ranges. Maintain the drum water level at the
operating height and monitor drum pressure if immediately going into
long-term lay-up after plant shutdown. If entering into the nitrogen

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capping method at the end of a short-term lay-up, monitor drum pressure


and initiate the long-term nitrogen cap after the pressure drops to 25 psig
(175 kPa) in the high or intermediate pressure drums, or less than 20 psig
(140 kPa) in the LP drum of a HRSG.

Install a nitrogen bottle, dewar flask or nitrogen generator with a pressure


regulator and indicator to the steam drum. After ensuring that all valves
on connecting piping are closed, valve in the nitrogen to pressurize the
drum and superheater section(s) to 5 psig (35 kPa) after the pressure has
decreased to less than the thresholds noted above. The nitrogen will
replace the steam as the steam condenses, gradually filling the top half of
the steam drum and the superheater. This process will allow changes in
drum water levels as the pressure changes.

Monitor nitrogen pressure continuously and test water chemistry at least


weekly as long as the unit remains in long-term wet storage. As long as
the nitrogen is maintained under a positive pressure, this process will
prevent oxygen from entering the system.

Note that nitrogen capping is not the same as the nitrogen blanket
method of dry storage (discussed later). The blanket method of dry
storage requires more nitrogen and at higher pressures. Also note that
overpressure protection is provided by the existing drum relief valves. If
there is any question as to their operability, the drum relief valves must be
tested prior to nitrogen addition to ensure that they will work if the drum is
over-pressurized.

Water treatment chemicals should be added to passivate metals and


control dissolved oxygen throughout the lay-up. When additional lay-up
chemicals are needed, each pressure level’s boiler / economizer water
should be circulated by means of an external pump (suction from the
intermittent blowdown or lower manifold drain and discharge to the
economizer inlet), or by firing the boiler (if available and economically
feasible) for a short time. Also, as noted previously, care must be taken
to ensure enough flow exists for adequate mixing. If this flow is too low
(and it often is), short-circuiting can occur and sample results will not be
indicative of actual boiler chemistry.

For most boiler designs, an external pump can be connected at the drum
lower collection header chemical cleaning connection or equivalent (pump
suction) and a economizer drain connection (pump discharge). The
recirculation pump should be configured such that samples can be
obtained through the normal sample point (typically the CBD line) during
recirculation. This may require the installation of an alternate sample tap
on the recirculation pump discharge with a “T” into the existing sample

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line. If this is done, ensure that the shutdown sample line can be properly
isolated from the operating sample line (double block and bleed
protection). Pump suction and discharge will require double manual
isolation valves.

c. Recovery from Long-term Wet Lay-up with Nitrogen Cap

The water chemistry is maintained for this lay-up option at a higher pH


and at a much higher passivator / scavenger concentration than that
maintained during operating periods. Steps must be taken, therefore, to
reduce the pH and passivator/scavenger concentration prior to restarting
the plant. These steps should include increasing the blowdown from the
drums and decreasing the settings on the chemical feed pumps until the
chemistry has returned to the desired operating ranges. Sampling should
be conducted after starting the plant following a lay-up period at twice the
normal frequency to ensure that chemistry changes are monitored during
this crucial period.

Steam Sparging Long-term Wet Lay-up

This long-term wet lay-up method is similar to that discussed above for nitrogen
capping of the boiler, but uses steam rather than nitrogen and introduces the
steam into the water contained in the boiler rather than the headspace. The
steam keeps the boiler hot and slightly pressurized to eliminate oxygen
ingress. Steam can be introduced into the lower manifolds or lower headers,
and will keep the boiler free from O2 infiltration as long as the boiler remains
pressurized. Steam sparging also helps to keep the flue gas side of the boiler
warm and dry. This will prevent condensation and the resulting corrosion on
the outside surfaces of the tubes.

Because of these benefits, long-term lay-up using steam sparging offers


greater protection than that provided by the nitrogen capping method. This lay-
up process will suffice for durations of up to 12 weeks without the need to drain
the boiler (assuming no freezing issues). However, as noted above, dry lay-up
is recommended for optimal protection during any lay-up lasting longer than 3
weeks.

Note that steam sparging is a “bleed and feed” method that will reduce water
treatment chemical concentrations if additional chemicals are not added during
lay-up using steam sparging. In addition, drum level must be controlled during
the lay-up period to prevent boiler water from entering the superheater.

a. Steam Sparging Equipment Requirements

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This option requires that the facility have an operating boiler, an auxiliary
boiler or other thermal source capable of generating a sufficient quantity
of steam. It also requires that the plant be equipped with piping to convey
this steam from the generating source to the economizer and superheater
drains. Plants not equipped with an external recirculation system should
consider the installation of such a system, as the external recirculation
system ensures that the water receives adequate mixing during the time
that the boiler is laid up and facilitates the addition and sampling of
required water treatment chemicals. Again, care must be taken to ensure
enough flow exists for adequate mixing. If this flow is too low (and it often
is), short-circuiting can occur and sample results will not be indicative of
actual boiler chemistry.

b. Implementation of Long-term Wet Lay-up with Steam Sparging

Steps to implement this lay-up method include:

Valve in external steam as the unit is coming offline. Valve in the steam
source when drum pressure falls to less than 25 psig (175 kPa) in the
high or intermediate pressure drums, or less than 20 psig (140 kPa) in the
LP drum of a HRSG.
• The steam sparged into the bottom section(s) of the drum will
condense, and will contribute to the drum water whatever volatile
chemicals were added to the steam source.

• Similar to the nitrogen blanketing option discussed above, maintain


chemistry at levels higher than those maintained during operating
periods. The pH and passivator should be fed as described above, in
Table 5-1.

• Condensed steam will add to the water levels within the boiler.
Periodic draining or blowdown may be necessary as water levels
increase.

c. Recovery from Long-term Wet Lay-up with Steam Sparging

Start-up after a long-term wet lay-up with steam sparging is similar to that
presented for start-up after a lay-up with nitrogen capping, as discussed
earlier. The main focus is to reduce the chemical concentrations to the
target concentrations set for operations. This is typically conducted by
increasing blowdown from the boiler drums and making up with deaerated
condensate or demineralized water.

Steam Blanketing Long-term Wet Lay-up

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This option is similar to that discussed immediately above – the difference is


that the steam is provided to the drum heads, similar to the nitrogen capping
option, rather than into the lower sections of the drum as is done for the
sparging option. Similar to the sparging option, implementation of the long-
term wet lay-up using steam a blanket keeps the drums warm and oxygen-free,
while enhancing protection of the gas or fire side.

However, this change in steam feed location results in the loss of drum water
circulation and equalization provided by steam sparging option. Therefore, an
external recirculation system is required for implementation of this lay-up
method to ensure that water chemistry remains consistent throughout all of the
drum sections.

a. Steam Blanketing Equipment Requirements

The equipment requirements for steam blanketing are similar to that


required for the steam sparging alternative discussed immediately above.
Rather than conveying the steam to the bottom of the drum,
implementation of this alternative requires that the steam be piped to the
top of the unit.

This lay-up method also requires the installation of a recirculation system


if the plant is not currently provided with such a system. While the long-
term steam blanket wet lay-up option can be implemented without the
presence of a recirculation system, the use of the recirculation system
ensures that the water is kept moving throughout the boiler and equalizes
water chemistry concentrations.

b. Implementation of Long-term Wet Lay-up with Steam Blanketing

The steam blanket implementation procedures are identical to those


specified earlier for the steam sparging option. The only difference is the
specific valves used to feed steam into the boiler; whereas bottom header
drain connections are used for the sparging, vent lines are used for the
steam blanketing process.

c. Recovery from Long-term Wet Lay-up with Steam Blanketing

The procedures to restart the plant coming out of a lay-up using the
steam blanketing option are identical to those specified for the steam
sparging option. As discussed above, the valves to be closed for this
option would be primarily the vent lines used to feed the blanketing
steam, as opposed to the bottom header drain connections used for the
sparging alternative.

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