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Sam is Production Manager at the Brush and ManChief Electric Generation Facilities in Colorado (US), where he oversees all maintenance activities for plant equipment, including performing major maintenance outages on turbines and plant equipment. Sam is also C0-Chairman for the US Frame 6 Users Group.
Sam will share his expertise at the upcoming Gas Turbine Conference in November, where he will discuss experience with ‘non OEM turbine overhauls’ at the site.
Colorado is known for experiencing diverse weather conditions throughout the year. What effects can fluctuating temperatures have on the operation and maintenance of gas turbines? What strategies would you recommend to manage these effects?
Sam:Cold weather has affected a number of our units from emissions in which you have to tune the machine for that ambient condition by In-house tuning, OEM contracted tuning, or OEM installed auto tuning. Other conditions are hoarfrost or heavy blowing snow in which inlet filters and or IGV can ice up on the machine.
For our filtered units not much can be done, we run until we can no longer run and are force to shut down.
Some of our unfiltered inlets we take hot CDP air and pipe back into the inlets for control of ice build-up on struts and IGVs.
We have cameras mounted that look into the inlets from the control room to monitor this type of condition, but on occasion caused R1 compressor blade damage from ice.
Power generation facilities are always looking to improve efficiency and performance. How are you achieving improvements with gas turbines at the plant?
Sam: For us, when dealing with outages we always try to get the compressor section of the unit open and as clean as possible at that time, to gain back what may have been lost.
We have installed direct cooling sprays on our Westinghouse 251AA, built in house. We have also installed a wet compression system and have peak firing on our Frame 6 unit for power augmentation.
Other means are inlet evaporative cooler which work very well in dry climates, and then of course you have chillers.
In your opinion, what are the most promising technological developments in the gas turbine industry?
Sam: That would have to be combustion technology for lowering emission on units, but the down side of this a small power loss. The other is in the newer metalsand parts cooling to reach higher firing temps.
Given your 24 years of industry experience, what pearls of wisdom would you pass onto the next generation of gas turbine maintenance and engineer rising stars?
Sam:This profession is a changing and challenging field to be in and the learning never stops. Our engineers should never stop asking questions to those seasoned plant personnel and bring new ideas to the table from a fresh perspective.
You will be speaking at the 15th Annual Australian Gas Turbines Conference. Is there any other presentations you are looking forward to?
Sam: I’m keen to hear the session on KMK cogeneration facility outage, because they have a Frame 6 unit and it’s a cogeneration plant. I can relate to both, having a F6 Gas Turbine in cogeneration configuration at our sites.
The presentation on ‘Training, testing, and operational benefits of dynamic simulation for gas turbine operators’ seems interesting. We also find it hard to get new recruits trained with the actual start-up of our plants, due to the fact that we are now a true peaking unit, with only a very few starts a year. Even with some of our seasoned operations team, they may go a year or two without having a start or shut down on one or more of our plants.
It would be insightful to see how others are performing “GP parts tracking and management” in Dr Matt Smillie’s session,as we may be able to improve how we do it at our site.
I look forward to exchanging ideas with our Australian colleagues on how we are meeting the challenges of maintaining the fleets we have, and how we are best accomplishing the tasks from major maintenance outages to normal plant operations and maintenance.