Great River Energy receives DOE grant to improve boiler sootblower technologies

UNDERWOOD, N.D., July 21, 2003 — Great River Energy (GRE) was awarded a $75,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for a design study on how to develop, apply and optimize the demonstration of new boiler sootblower technologies at its Coal Creek Station.

Sootblowing is the process of blowing steam or air onto the tubes of a boiler to remove ash buildup. Ash buildup on boiler tubes can have a negative effect on power plant efficiency as more energy is required to heat the water flowing through the tubes.

“We will be gathering information to determine when and where we should remove ash from boiler tubes to improve the efficiency of Coal Creek Station,” says Jeff Zueger, power generation and operations support leader at Coal Creek Station.

Through the study, Great River Energy will develop a system to change the operation of the sootblower system from a manual to an automatic mode based on current operating conditions in the boiler.

Zueger points out that if power plant efficiencies are improved, Coal Creek Station should also realize a reduction in emissions as less coal will be required to generate the same amount of electricity.

The project, which has a total cost of $200,000, will be completed this fall.

Information gleaned from the project will be used by DOE to promote the application of the new sootblower technologies in other utility boilers in the United States.

The research at Coal Creek Station is part of DOE’s Power Reliability Improvement and Emissions Reduction Technology (PRIER) Field study, being conducted through its National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). The objective of the PRIER program is to help existing coal-fired plants improve power reliability and to reduce emissions (efficiency improvements).

Through the program, DOE will demonstrate PRIER technologies and implementation strategies on existing full-scale units and develop new PRIER technologies.

NETL subcontracted with the URS Corporation, Austin, Tex., to conduct the study at Coal Creek Station, which was chosen, in part, because: it is a sub-critical pressure, lignite-based unit with demonstrated success on similar projects; and it is proactive regarding the use of new and emerging technologies.

Great River Energy is a not-for-profit generation and transmission cooperative providing electricity to 28 distribution cooperatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. It is the second largest power supplier in the state of Minnesota, and the fourth largest cooperative of its type in the nation.


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