Emerson Process Management unveils integrated solution for biomass power plants that monitors feedstock moisture content, automatically adjusts combustion process to boost efficiency, lower maintenance costs

PITTSBURGH , June 19, 2013 (press release) – Integrated solution combines continuous monitoring of biomass feedstock for moisture content with industry-leading control system

Emerson Process Management now offers an integrated solution that enables biomass-fuelled power plants to continually monitor feedstock moisture content and adjust the combustion process for better efficiency. The new solution, which combines a biomass fuel moisture sensor with Emerson’s Ovation™ expert control system, can help reduce maintenance costs as well as boost net yearly MWh production.

Biomass fuels vary considerably in their energy content. Fuel that has high moisture content will generate less heat and will have a significant effect on energy recovery in steam generators. The traditional method of controlling the combustion process is by monitoring the flue gases and adjusting the combustion air to give the best efficiency. However, rapidly changing fuel quality and boiler characteristics can make maintaining optimum conditions difficult.

Emerson’s new integrated solution continuously monitors fuel for moisture content as it is being fed into the combustion chamber. The Ovation system uses this data to adjust the combustion air to match to the characteristics of the fuel based on the master set-point output (MWe steam or pressure), boiler response and the thermal cycle overall. This enables the plant to react much more quickly to changes in fuel moisture content, maximizing combustion efficiency.

Suitable for new or existing installations, the system comprises a small skid that takes biomass fuel from the transport system, measures its moisture content using microwave technology and returns it to the transport system. It provides a volumetric evaluation of feedstock humidity every 2-3 minutes.

The moisture sensor is connected via Ethernet to the Ovation system, providing an input to the boiler and thermal-cycle control logic. The data provided is analyzed to provide fast and accurate information on the temperature and moisture content of the feedstock.

Monitoring and controlling combustion air can dramatically influence profits and costs of boiler operations. Excess oxygen does nothing to improve combustion. Instead, it actually serves to reduce boiler efficiency by absorbing heat that could be used in steam production. Ovation helps to modulate the amount of air in the system to provide the exact amount of air that the system needs, ensuring efficient combustion.

“The variable moisture content of biomass fuels presents a challenge for operators who are under pressure to maximize performance from their power plants,” said Bob Yeager, president of Emerson Process Management's Power & Water Solutions business. “With continuous moisture monitoring data incorporated into the Ovation control system, operators can make rapid adjustments to the combustion process to help enable an increase in net yearly MWh production.”

A leading power generating company in Italy has evaluated the Emerson solution on a 15 MWe – 50 MWth power station fuelled by wood chips. The company has several suppliers of wood chips, each delivering fuel with a different moisture content. This means that the combustion process needs to be continually adjusted for different mixes of fuel. The addition of continuous monitoring for moisture content has helped improve plant efficiency and reduce maintenance costs.

About Emerson Process Management

Emerson Process Management (www.EmersonProcess.com), an Emerson business, is a leader in helping businesses automate their production, processing and distribution in the chemical, oil and gas, refining, pulp and paper, power, water and wastewater treatment, mining and metals, food and beverage, life sciences and other industries. The company combines superior products and technology with industry-specific engineering, consulting, project management and maintenance services. Its brands include PlantWeb™, Syncade™, DeltaV™, Fisher®, Bettis™, Micro Motion®, Rosemount®, Daniel™, Ovation™ and AMS Suite.

About Emerson

Emerson based in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), is a global leader in bringing technology and engineering together to provide innovative solutions for customers in industrial, commercial, and consumer markets around the world. The company is comprised of five business segments: Process Management, Industrial Automation, Network Power, Climate Technologies, and Commercial & Residential Solutions. Sales in fiscal 2012 were $24.4 billion. For more information, visit www.Emerson.com

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.