Engineering Reliability Specialists

Heavy Plant Machinery

Biomass Rail Load Out Terminal Continuous Condition Based Monitoring

Biomass power stations currently generate more than 11,000 MW, the second largest amount of renewable energy in the UK. The term biomass covers a wide range of fuels, derived from timber and agriculture. Some sources are grown specifically for electricity generation. Others are waste, such as sugar cane once it has been crushed to extract sugar.

Biomass technologies use combustion to produce electricity, and biomass power stations have much in common with coal- and oil-fired stations, in that they can quickly generate power in order to meet fluctuations in demand. In many instances, coal- and oil-fired stations are being converted to process and burn biomass fuels. In other cases, new stations are being built.

A new biomass power station is currently under construction in the north of England. It will operate 24/7 and fuel will be transported to the station’s burners via hoppers, conveyors and feeders. Keen to protect the plant and machinery involved in loading the burners, the operator has turned to Drive Management Services (DMS) – collaborating under the Diagnostic System Integrator (DSI) partnership as announced in 2012 – to develop a conditioning monitoring system to feed into the site’s Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, located in the main control room.

In designing the condition monitoring system, DSI determined that multiple assets should be monitored for rises in vibration levels and temperature. An important consideration was the environment, as Biomass fuels represent a fire and explosion hazard, and every aspect of the monitoring system had to be intrinsically safe. Therefore, Zener barriers were installed inside the panel to ensure the system was completely intrinsically safe.

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