GE touts efficiency bump from coal additives at McIntosh plant

The City of Lakeland, Fla., and its coal-fired McIntosh Unit 3 will save between 15% and 20% of coal supply costs per year by using General Electric’s (NYSE: GE) innovative FuelSolv coal treatment technology, GE said Dec. 11.

FuelSolv is a portfolio of specialty chemical additives that minimize combustion challenges. McIntosh is part of the city’s public power utility, Lakeland Electric, which is the third largest public power utility in Florida with a total generation capacity of nearly 1,100 MW.

A typical coal-burning power plant will spend approximately 70% of its operating budget on fuel. With the price of coal rising as it has, many power plants are looking to fuel their plants with lower cost and subsequently more difficult to burn coals in order to stay competitive, GE noted. These changes in fuel and boiler operation may cause plants to experience more ash slag deposit loading on the boiler walls, superheater and reheater tubes in their boilers, which reduces efficiency and increases operating costs due to tube failures, decreased heat transfer and increased maintenance costs. GE’s FuelSolv is a fuel treatment program for deposit control that increases efficiency and reduces costs.

“As we see prices for bituminous coal increasing and natural gas prices decreasing, lower quality and lower priced ‘harder-to-burn’ coals make sense from a fuel cost perspective, but they present unique operational challenges for a power utility. GE offered a solution that allowed us to purchase less expensive coal, but burn it nearly as efficiently as our historical operations,” said Ken Riddle, supervisor of chemical processes, Lakeland Electric.

Results from a pilot project estimate significant fuel cost savings, GE said. Depending on the mix of coals used, projected savings may be between 15% and 20% of coal supply costs per year for a 50% Central Appalachian/50% opportunity fuel blend. These estimates are dependent upon current coal rates and whether the selected opportunity coal is Northern Appalachian or Illinois Basin bituminous coal, GE explained.

In addition to the chemical additives, the plant also is utilizing GE’s Zonal combustion monitoring system to help improve boiler reliability and efficiency while reducing emissions. The combustion monitoring system provides real-time mapping of combustion quality to identify poor combustion zones and helps operators and engineers run the boiler at balance combustion conditions.

“As the demand for alternative fuel choices continues to increase, GE is committed to innovating solutions like FuelSolv and Zonal combustion monitoring for the power generation industry. This combination of products offers our customers flexibility and their fuel cost savings can ultimately be passed on to their customers,” said John Schumann, global product manager—water and process technologies for GE Power & Water.

Incidentally, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on July 30 issued a final air construction permit to Lakeland Electric which authorizes restrictions on sulfur content of fuel oil at McIntosh Unit 1 and prohibits the use of petroleum coke in Unit 3. This permit restricted the sulfur content of fuel oil to 0.7% for Unit 1 and removes petcoke, a very high-sulfur fuel, as an authorized fuel for Unit 3.

McIntosh consists of three fossil fuel-fired steam generators, two diesel-powered generators and two gas turbines. McIntosh 3 is a nominal 364-MW dry bottom wall-fired fossil fuel fired steam generator, said DEP permit documents. The maximum heat input rate is 3,640 million Btu per hour. Unit 3 is equipped with an electrostatic precipitator, a flue gas desulfurization system, and low NOX burners and an overfire air system to control emissions. McIntosh Unit 3 began commercial service in September 1982.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.