DXP Pacific Industrial Pumps

5 Tips for Optimizing Boiler Feed Pumps

Thermal power plants rely on boiler feedwater pumps. Water is pumped into the boiler at high pressures to generate steam. Unfortunately, boiler feed pumps often consume a lot of energy. It is critical to optimize your equipment to reduce operating costs and improve the power plant’s overall thermal efficiency. 

Even the smallest increase in energy efficiency can make a significant difference when dealing with such high levels of electricity. If you are looking to optimize your boiler feed system and conserve energy, here are five strategies you can implement.

1. Start from the End of the Line

Start with the boiler itself to understand where the most energy is being consumed. From there, examine the valve system that controls the feed of water to the boiler. Last, focus on the feedwater pumps and auxiliary equipment, along with their motors. By taking this reverse approach, you can better understand the current operating efficiency and gather critical data throughout the line. You will be able to identify any weak points in the system and measure key performance data that can ultimately be tracked back to the source of the issue. Then you can start to implement targeted optimization strategies.

2. Engineer for Operational Efficiency

Optimizing a boiler feed system starts with having the right pump equipment and engineering configuration. Many plant operators are too focused on initial capital costs when selecting boiler feed pumps, engineering the system, and installing the equipment. They fail to consider the full life cycle of the pump and total operating costs over time. The wrong pump could end up costing much more to operate in the long run because it may not run as efficiently or effectively as equipment that’s better engineered for the specific application. In many cases, the decisions have already been made, and it’s not feasible to purchase new equipment. This is where custom engineering and optimization can make a difference. You may never have the ideal boiler feed pump system, but you can take steps to optimize what you do have. 

3. Consider the Return on Investment (ROI)

Energy costs continue to rise, which makes boiler feed pump optimization more important than ever. An inefficient system is costly to operate, and this impacts your bottom line. You have to consider the overall return on investment (ROI) related to equipment upgrades, custom engineering solutions, and a more effective maintenance plan. You may spend time and money to implement these optimization strategies, but they should be more than worth it if you can reduce your energy consumption. Improving operational efficiency by as little as 0.3% adds up to 2.7 MW of power savings at a 900 MW power plant. This presents substantial savings year over year, making long-term pump optimization well worth any up-front or ongoing expenses of time, capital, and effort. 

4. Focus on Hydraulic Efficiency

To achieve the best operating efficiency in a boiler feedwater system, the pump hydraulics must be the top consideration. You need to minimize boiler-regulating valve throttling and determine the specific optimum operating speed. Variable-speed drive trains may be the best solution. Each aspect of hydraulic efficiency should be tested, monitored, and inspected to make the necessary improvements to the pump, the valves, and the feed control system. 

5. Use Data to Your Advantage

Proper testing and monitoring can identify potential problems and determine the ideal optimization solutions. Data can be utilized when reviewing your boiler feed pump system for upgrades and engineering improvements. It can also be collected and analyzed during operation for predictive maintenance and troubleshooting. The smallest performance variables can make the biggest differences. Optimization is an ongoing process. You can take advantage of solutions now to vastly improve the energy efficiency of your pumps. Then you must monitor and continually analyze the collected data to keep the system as efficient as possible over the complete life cycle of the equipment.

If you are looking to optimize your boiler feed pump system, contact DXP Pacific today. Our pump experts can help you achieve the best operational efficiency, whether it’s new equipment selection or custom engineering solutions for your existing system.