Condition monitoring solution for refurbished blast furnace

01 October 2013

Turbo-blowers and their control systems are a vital component of the steel making process. Condition monitoring company, Sensonics, has recently been involved in a project involving the relighting of a blast furnace at the SSI steelworks in Redcar, on Teeside.

Originally a British Steel facility, the site, which is the second largest blast furnace in Europe, was acquired by SSI in 2011. The Cordell Group, the engineering contractors chosen to provide engineering services to the local steel industry, was appointed to carry out an upgrade of the turbo-blowers control systems in 2011 and this included Sensonics equipment, some of which was originally installed in 1997.

The turbo-blowers consist of a pair of axial flow compressors driven by fully condensing 54Mw steam turbines with a normal operating range of 4,200 Nm/min at minimum blade angle, up to a maximum of 9,350 Nm/min at 6.2 Bar G. Each turbo blower is capable of supplying the total air demand of the blast furnace, with only one machine in continuous operation while the other is on cold standby. The output air flow of the compressor is controlled by variable pitch stator blades with the machine running at constant speed, while the up/down of the blower is controlled local to the machine. During the starting and stopping phase of each blower, monitoring is performed by a local turbine panel adjacent to each machine. When the machine is up to speed, control of the unit is performed by the turbo-blower control panel located in a central control room.

The new Sensonics system comprised a total of 15 sets of Senturion proximity probes monitoring a range of functions on each turbo blower, including relative shaft vibration, rotational speed and thrust positions.

The protection system comprised a 19in rack-mounted Sentry G3 system retrofitted into the existing floor standing panel, along with 16 channels of relative shaft vibration monitoring. The 14 channel Sentry G3 protection equipment provides a high integrity protection configuration with 2 out of 3 voted speed and 2 out of 3 voted thrust position on both the turbo blowers.

Commenting on the new system, Graham Blackburn, the control & instrumentation engineer for Power & Energy at SSI Redcar said: “The need for careful monitoring of the condition of these machines when running is crucial and we have relied upon Sensonics equipment for the speed monitoring (3,540 RPM) and for axial displacement, for many years. Although the original equipment was still serviceable, we decided to upgrade to the new Sentry G3 modules in 2011. The other Sensonics equipment installed earlier monitoring the ‘X’ and ‘Y’ vibration on the four bearings is also serviceable and providing the plant condition detail we need with peace of mind.”

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