Combined heat and power (CHP) engines that convert biogas into usable energy are vital equipment. But with many of these engines now at least five years old, what is the impact when they fail? Gen-C’s James Thompson suggests five essential steps...
The UK’s anaerobic digestion (AD) industry has experienced rapid growth over the past 10 years, with a total of 648 plants now in operation. But with many of these engines now at least five years old, what is the impact when they fail or underperform and is there any alternative to costly engine replacements or service contracts?
These five upgrades can transform a gas engine into a more efficient and profitable piece of kit…
Install an open-access control panel: Many service providers use a ‘closed’ control panel as a means to coerce the owner into a restrictive service contract. By upgrading to an intelligent, open access control panel, an operator can remotely take control of their own engine via their laptop, phone or tablet; instantly assess how their engine is performing; control their engine’s running parameters, adjusting them to match the biogas composition; and restart their engine themselves within seconds without even needing to be on site.
Fit a flexible fuel mixer: A flexible and fast-acting mixer enables an engine to handle variations in gas volumes and composition. This is especially important for biogas plants treating food waste, as this is a constantly changing product. At Gen-C, our air/gas mixers comprise a range of flow bodies to suit every feedstock type, based on a plant’s individual gas composition. If the composition alters significantly, we can change the flow body as required, ensuring the perfect fuel mix every time.
Use an ignition controller with pulse technology: If your engine shudders during the ignition phase, replacing the controller with one using pulse technology will deliver more reliable ignition and prolong the life of your equipment. We supply Motortech ignition controllers, the only type that uses pulse technology.
This creates thousands of tiny pulses, the intensity and duration of which can be programmed according to the plant’s demands, and which will remain the same throughout the lifetime of the ignition controller.
Switch to a smart knocking control system: A ‘knocking’ sound usually signals that the gas is igniting too early. A sophisticated, intelligent knocking control system can detect this and automatically alter the ignition timing point. If knocking still occurs, it will then reduce the load of the engine or even shut it down, preventing catastrophic engine failure.
Specify a high temperature speed control: The throttle actuator responsible for speed control is usually located close to the intercooler; a part of the engine which is particularly hot. Proximity to a heat source can cause this component to deteriorate more rapidly, often leading to poor performance or failure.
To counteract this, we supply specialist high-temperature throttle actuators, which help to prolong operational life. They also comprise an integrated throttle body which contains fewer moving parts by being directly connected to the throttle. Not only does this make for more accurate control of speed, it also incurs less wear and tear.
By scheduling an engine upgrade to coincide with any planned maintenance shutdown, operators can benefit from increased engine availability, more reliable performance, longer lasting components and greater electrical output.