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How Water Chemistry Training and Knowledge Sharing Innovations Can Empower Power Plant Employees

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Power generation chemistry is a multi-discipline area of knowledge encompassing chemistry, operations, equipment, and the treatment of miscellaneous water systems within power plants. A good understanding of plant chemistry by employees helps preserve and extend the life of equipment touched by water and steam. A strategically designed training program lays up a foundation for building employees’ power plant chemistry expertise that ultimately translates into strong fleet capability in chemistry areas.

Multiple approaches, resources and avenues must be used in the training process and in dispersing chemistry knowledge throughout a fleet of power stations. This article shares NextEra Energy’s experience in training power generation employees, knowledge preservation, and information while building our fleet chemistry capability.

Training Scope and Content

This section of the article provides an overview of our training program.

Power plant water systems. The aim of the chemistry program at a power plant is to support equipment health and extend equipment life. It is achieved through preventing or minimizing corrosion, scaling and biofouling. Experience shows that starting plant chemistry training sessions by highlighting the five principal water systems and explaining the interaction between the systems lays a foundation to understanding the big picture at the very beginning of the training process. The plant steam and water cycle, open cooling water, closed cooling water, pretreatment/demineralization and wastewater systems shall be covered. Discussion shall include each system’s purpose, design and function, systems interaction, metallurgy, makeup source, water purity requirements, chemical treatment programs and rationale behind the chemical treatment of each system, monitoring parameters and specification limits, diagnostic and troubleshooting principles.

Comment: Once each system is explained, it is critical to summarize information in a single slide and table showing miscellaneous system boundaries and bonds. Figure 1 shows the water systems covered in the training, while Table A provides details about the five primary water systems in power plants. One needs to emphasize that plant cycle is the “heart” of a power plant. All other systems support the heart.

Chemistry equipment. Plant operators and chemists are in constant contact with equipment such as demineralization systems, chemical feed equipment, sample panels, on-line and benchtop chemistry instrumentation, wastewater treatment equipment, and boilers/heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs). Topics shall include safety, equipment design, major components, principles of operation and basic troubleshooting. In addition, consumables, replacement kits, order placement info and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) 24/7 contact information shall be included in the training content. Figure 2 is a diagram of the chemistry equipment associated with power plant water systems.

Chemistry analyzer quality assurance/quality control (QAQC) and wet chemistry testing. With 100% chemistry monitoring via on-line instrumentation, it is critical to run analyzer QAQC on a regular basis and maintain instrumentation per OEM recommended schedules. The QAQC routine and acceptance ranges shall be standardized across the fleet. Calibration and accuracy check results are logged by sites in a centralized database where results can be accessed and reviewed for compliance with calibration specs and compared with online readings for accuracy.

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