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Sleeping with the fishes By Frank Todd, True North Consulting

Lately, Mrs. Megawatt has been mentioning a faint, highpitched sound coming from somewhere around our shower. I confidently informed her that it is no problem and that she should not worry about it. However that did not stop me from looking under the house and putting my stethoscope to the pipes and wall hunting for telltale signs of something sinister. Sometimes we think everything is O.K. because the real problem is hidden from view. This story is about a power plant that was going along without a care in the world, until some evidence came up that indicated there was a problem no one realized was there. Sitting out on the bluff, Savannah, my faithful golden retriever, and I were enjoying a spectacular sunset over the San Juan range when we were interrupted by a faint jingle from the office indicating an opportunity to provide for our sustenance. It was a well-known entity that always brings a slight uneasiness to my reverie, the Jersey Jungle Power Station. As anticipated, next came those now so familiar words: “Mr. Gangone sends his respects and requests your presence at your earliest convenience.” My fountain pen fell to the table – I was a little surprised since we had recently helped them with a turbine replacement and I hadn’t expected to hear from them again. Apparently once the relationship was established it was difficult to stay under the radar. Jersey Jungle had been humming along nicely since its turbine replacement, until the staff received a call from the syndicate indicating they were coming up short on their end of the Megawatt stick. As I got off the plane, I noticed Brian the Btu Buster sitting in his Miata waiting for me with the requisite black suit and dark glasses. Triple B had been around this roulette table before and he knew how to play the part. As we approached the power station, Brian noticed a big truck pulling up to the river with placard on the side stating “Jersey Jungle Hatchery,” as a young man with a definite tilt to his head greeted us with some amount of fear and trepidation. Giuseppe Varverdi was a new engineer up from the ranks, and the nephew of the Don himself. Giuseppe indicated that Mr. Gangone had very high expectations for our visit and proceeded to describe the problem. Two times a year the syndicate would send Guido out to the power station to determine if they were meeting their quota for supplying the Grid. For the last two visits, Guido was not pleased and Giuseppe’s predecessor had somehow ended up as the chief Waterbox monkey in charge of the fishes for the foreseeable future. Brian and I could feel the tension as Giuseppe spoke. Giuseppe provided the chart in Figure 1 to show us the problem. Gross load had been decreasing during the time period in question. Since this plant operated at a constant thermal input, this was not expected. We asked Giuseppe to plot the condenser inlet temperature along with the Gross Load to see

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

APRIL 2015


Profile for Energy-Tech Magazine

April 2015  

Heat Exchangers – Retrofit/Rebuild/Equipment Upgrade – Bearings – Turbine Tech: Steam – ASME: Combined-Cycle Plants

April 2015  

Heat Exchangers – Retrofit/Rebuild/Equipment Upgrade – Bearings – Turbine Tech: Steam – ASME: Combined-Cycle Plants