When Benny Bencheikh, one of our senior project field managers, saw an opportunity to solve an operational problem for a customer, he took it – and ended up pioneering a new approach to repair and upgrade critical valves used in power generation plants.
When these automatic recirculation valves (also known as ARC valves) were first introduced, they were seen as a great solution for maintaining the minimum flow levels required to keep critical pumps at a safe operating point on their performance curve.
The solution, however, did not work as plants aged and were faced with different operational demands.
“As the fleet of power generation facilities has aged, our customers were experiencing significant wear and tear and damage to their ARC valves,” Benny explained. The wear and tear has resulted from two inherent characteristics of ARC valves:
- The valves are custom designed to meet the specific operating environment at each installation.
- The bypass system in the valve contains a number of small internal parts that regulate the flow and keep the pump on the operational curve.
“The valves were designed and installed for one specific set of operational parameters and were not able to handle differences in operating conditions that emerge as a power plant ages or changes operational requirements,” Bay Valve Customer Service Manager Kent Rummelhart said.
“When the valves face changing pressures and operating environments, the smaller bypass components experience damage to the point of failure and end up in the piping system, creating additional operational problems for the facility”, Benny said.
Power plant operators eventually face two difficult choices; manage increased maintenance costs or large-scale retrofits to replace the ARC valves altogether. Either choice means significant downtime and increased costs. “Our valve repair solution provides greater operational flexibility without requiring major piping modifications”, Kent said.
The solution’s success at a major client of Bay Valve Service is typical of this repair and how we work with the customer to solve complex problems. The maintenance manager at a 550MW plant experiencing ARC valve problems commented that “equipment reliability and a proactive approach are an absolute necessity to the continuous and safe operation of any facility when developing repair plans.”
This specific plant’s ARC valves were known for developing minor leaks, requiring annual repairs and adding to maintenance costs. We were instrumental in working hand in hand with their facility to implement an engineered solution that addressed these repeated failures.
“Bay Valve Service performed the valve repair modification in 2010, which has been proven to be successful and robust, as the valves continued to develop zero leaks throughout the plants operation,” the maintenance manager said.
“After more than eight years, 25 retrofits, and excellent feedback from our customers, this solution is proven to improve reliability and reduce operational costs,” Benny said.
Bay Valve Service is ready to apply this patent-pending solution across the U.S. in all power generation facilities. To receive an initial evaluation, contact us at (707) 748-7166.