Cost Reductions Through Life Cycle Improvements


George Harris, Hydro Inc. and Ken Babusiak, HydroAire Inc.


Pumps & Systems

Date Published:

February, 2010


More than 15 years ago, a 160 in plate mill was experiencing significant maintenance problems with its descaling pumps; the typical mean time between repairs was only 6 to 8 months. Some rebuilt pumps even failed on start-up.

Descaling is one of the more severe, but critical, services in a steel mill. The pressures are high and the rapid changes in flows and pressures severely impact the pumps. At the same time, the pumps’ performance can significantly impact the quality of the steel produced.

Improvements to these pumps were implemented in various phases over several years. The path was not always straightforward and required close cooperation and teamwork between the aftermarket service provider and mill personnel to implement various upgrades.


Root Cause Analysis-Rotor Condition Analysis

At the start of the project, all of the pumps, which had been in service since the early 1970s, were exhibiting high noise levels along with abnormally high vibration, erosive wear and consistent, frequent maintenance problems.

The first step was to comprehensively analyze the pump rotor in a process called Rotor Condition Analysis. The Rotor Condition Analysis report, coupled with analysis of field operating conditions, provided the forensic evidence to identify the root causes of pump problems. This data, when analyzed in conjunction with the operational data, vibration readings and other field information, enables the aftermarket provider’s engineers to troubleshoot the pump and develop recommendations to solve the identified problems.



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Vibration Study and Root Cause Analysis


Ian Watson, Jim Steiger and Dr. T. Ravisundar, HydroAire Inc.


Pumps & Systems

Date Published:

December, 2009


An 1,800 MW power station in the Midwest experienced constant trouble with four of its four-stage boiler feed pumps, which were driven by steam turbines and operated at variable speed to meet the required plant load.

According to the plant, these pumps had always exhibited high vibration. In 2003, the plant approached an aftermarket service provider to resolve this problem. Unfortunately, the pumps were not fitted with vibration monitoring equipment, so vibration trends were not readily available. Since the problem existed on all four pumps, a systematic analysis was recommended to determine the root cause. The plant and repair shop developed a plan to a) undertake a field study and conduct a vibration trend analysis, b) identify possible causes by performing hydraulic and structural analysis, c) analyze suitable modifications and d) rebuild the pump accordingly.


Field Observations

  1. The vibration level varied by machine, from 0.3 ips to a maximum of 0.7 ips.
  2. Maximum vibration levels were at one times running speed on the inboard bearing housing and two times running speed on the outboard bearing housing.
  3. The vibration level was ~0.15 ips at impeller vane pass frequency at five times running speed (the impeller had five vanes).
  4. In the past, the suction impellers were repaired or replaced every two years due to impeller vane erosion damage.


Analyses and Results

Engineers believed that the root cause for vibration problems could be attributed to the combined effect of structural stability and hydraulic phenomena. For the purpose of analysis both of these effects were studied separately.


Results of Structural Analysis

The recommendation was that the plant employ a third party consulting firm specializing in vibration analysis to conduct a field and analytical study to determine the full operating deflection shape (ODS) of the pumps. Impact testing was also performed to determine the natural frequencies and mode shapes of each unit. The ODS study revealed the following:

  1. Modal impact testing showed a lightly damped natural frequency of approximately 88 Hz on three pumps and 98 Hz on the fourth pump. As the typical running speed was between 4,400 rpm (73.3 Hz) and 5,400 rpm (90 Hz), the pumps were operating at or near critical speeds.
  2. Analysis showed that the one times running speed vibration was a result of the entire pump twisting on its pedestals, and not a result of localized motion of the bearing housings (see Figure 1). The pedestals were deforming their cross-sectional shape to produce this twisting motion. The inboard bearing housing moved in-phase with the barrel at this frequency. Applying a fix to the coupling guard or inboard bearing housing could slightly reduce vibration levels, but did not address the vibration’s root cause.
  3. The outboard bearing housing vibrated in the vertical direction at two times running speed due to a nearby vertical natural frequency of the outboard bearing housing. In some cases, the amplitude of this vibration exceeded that of the one times vibration on the inboard bearing housing.
  4. The outboard bearing housing vibrated in the horizontal direction at vane pass frequency (five times running speed = 375 Hz to 450 Hz). There was a natural frequency at approximately 380 Hz that produced at least some significant vibration over this entire speed range.



Figure 1. Data acquired during testing shows the pump twisting on its pedestals.

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Rebuilding Boiler Feed Pumps for the Wastewater Industry


Bob Bluse, Hydro East Inc., and Scott Morisi, Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners


Pumps & Systems

Date Published:

October, 2009


Repairing multistage, segmental diffuser, boiler feed pumps and maintaining the original performance can be difficult and challenging. In this case study, a comprehensive inspection and repair program was applied to rebuilding six boiler feed pumps to improve MTBR and hydraulic performance to meet system demands.



The pumps sent for rebuilding played an important role in maintaining plant performance for one of the six largest wastewater treatment plants in the United States, located in northeastern New Jersey. The plant, operated by the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners (PVSC), uses the boiler feed pumps in a wet air oxidation (WAO) process.

The WAO process treats combined thickened waste activated sludge and primary sludge with heat (420 deg F) and high pressure (650 psi) for 30 minutes in a reactor to reduce the volatile solids content, break the chemical bond between the solids and the water, facilitate a high degree of dewaterability, sterilize the sludge and minimize the volume to be removed for beneficial reuse.


Facility’s boiler house
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Improving Pump Efficiency to Save Energy and Increase Generating Capacity


Ross Bertoli, Hydro Australia, and Mark Moerke, International Power Hazelwood


Pumps & Systems

Date Published:

August, 2009


As the global demand for energy grows, power companies are working to implement new technologies that would enable them to produce more power from existing stations. The following example demonstrates how International Power’s Hazelwood power station in Australia improved the efficiency of their motor-driven boiler feed pumps to produce a higher megawatt output without burning additional fossil fuels.


The Growing Demand for Energy

Built between 1964 and 1971, the Hazelwood Power Station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley originally planned to have six units producing 200 MW each. However, growing electricity demand in the late 60s prompted the approval of a proposal to add two units to the station to increase generating capacity. The eight-unit power station was producing 1,600 MW output by the early 70s; each unit generated 200 MW of power. In recent years, this power station has moved to improve its output through thermal efficiency gains and increasing each unit’s capacity by 20 MW.


Engineered Modifications to Improve Pump Efficiency

Having modified the turbines to use less power, the plant needed to upgrade the 11-stage ring section, boiler feed pumps to meet the newly elevated performance requirements. International Power Hazelwood (IPRH) contacted a pump aftermarket service center in the Latrobe Valley to determine if modifications could be made to seven of these pumps within a two-year time period.

Though the original pump curves implied that the pump would have sufficient head and flow to handle the increased service conditions, several factors were discovered during inspection that would determine the course of action. Due to a vane pass vibration, the diffuser vanes had been machined to correct a vane pass issue that the pump experienced early on in its life. As a result, the hydraulic performance of the diffuser was compromised, and the pump no longer matched the manufacturer’s original design. The motor size also limited the power usage.


Rotor Centralization was performed to improve pump efficiency


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Engineered Modifications for an Ash Handling Water Pump

Written by: George Harris, Hydro Inc.
Publisher: Pumps & Systems / May, 2009


Modifications can be made to many older pumps to improve on their original design. Pump rebuilders with experienced engineering staffs can provide these modifications and upgrades to substantially extend mean time between repair (MTBR) and increase pump longevity. In the following case history, an ash handling water pump that had been experiencing a short operational history was removed from service on an emergency basis because of catastrophic bearing failure caused by poor lubrication.

This pump was shipped to the service center where it was disassembled and inspected. It was observed that the bearings had failed and the rotor had moved axially toward the non-drive end, allowing the second stage impeller to contact the pump casing (see Figure 1).


Figure 1


Excessive wear was noted at all running clearances. Discussions with the plant subsequently revealed that these pumps have an average MTBR of 18 months. Excess running clearances accompanied by rotor axial movement have resulted in similar failures on sister pumps. Continue reading