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Proceedings Paper

Evaluation of IR technology applied to cooling tower performance
Author(s): Neal A. MacNamara; Paul A. Zayicek
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Paper Abstract

Infrared thermography (IR) is widely used by electric utilities as an integral part of their predictive maintenance program. IR is utilized for inspection of a variety of plant mechanical and electrical components. Additionally, IR can be used to provide thermal performance information for other key plant systems, including assessment of cooling towers. Cooling tower performance directly affects availability and heat rate in fossil and nuclear power plants. Optimal tower performance contributes to efficient turbine operation and maximum power output. It is estimated that up to half of the cooling towers installed have failed to meet their design performance specifications. As a result, any additional degradation of tower performance resulting from fouling, valve degradation, unbalanced flow, or a poor maintenance practice has a direct effect on generation output. We have collected infrared thermography images of mechanical draft cooling towers, as part of Evaluation of IR Technology Applied to Cooling Tower Performance. IR images have been analyzed to provide information regarding general performance conditions and identification of operational deficiencies related to thermal performance. Similarly, IR can be implemented for monitoring of tower flow balance activities and for post-maintenance surveillance. To date, IR images have been used to identify areas of general flow imbalance, flooding or limited flow in individual cells, missing or broken tower fill material, fan performance and other problems related to maintenance or operational issues. Additionally, an attempt is being made to use quantitative thermal data, provided by the IR image analysis software, in conjunction with condenser input/output site ambient information, to evaluate and compare individual tower cell performance.

Paper Details

Date Published: 19 March 1999
PDF: 16 pages
Proc. SPIE 3700, Thermosense XXI, (19 March 1999); doi: 10.1117/12.342293
Show Author Affiliations
Neal A. MacNamara, Southern Nuclear Operating Co. (United States)
Paul A. Zayicek, EPRI Nondestructive Evaluation Ctr. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3700:
Thermosense XXI
Dennis H. LeMieux; John R. Snell, Editor(s)

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