Situation: At the heart of fossil-fired power generation is the combustion process that converts fuel into steam to generate electricity. It’s a complex process, in which fuel is injected into a five-story fireball by hundreds of burners, along with air from hundreds of ports. The environment is too hostile for sensors anywhere but downstream as the exhaust heads to the stack. If there is too much air, it leads to NOx formation, a pollutant tightly controlled by the EPA, and lower fuel efficiency as heat escapes up the stack. If there is too little air, it leads to CO, the unburnt fuel that escapes as a gas up the stack.
Solution: nDimensional technology has been used to help electric power generation plants increase their fuel efficiency and lower pollution by optimizing the combustion process. To ensure the proper fuel-to-air mixture, prediction models estimate the NOx and CO levels at the stack (as measured by upstream sensors) along with the overall fuel efficiency (a detailed engineering calculation) based on the burner and air port settings. Optimization models then determine the best settings to lower NOx and increase fuel efficiency within CO constraints. On average, across hundreds of combustion optimizer installations, NOx emissions were lowered by 10-25% and fuel efficiency was increased by 0.5-0.75%; having a recurring economic value of 100's of millions of dollars per year.