When you think of power plant fans, long lifespan might immediately spring to mind. And it’s true. A mechanical draft fan lasts for a while, and may still be in use from the first days of installation onward. But while fan framework may stand the test of time, its capacity may not hold as solid. A diverse spread of factors may press in demands that work against an aging fan. Over time, you might consider going with an all-new installation. However, the upfront investment coupled with significant downtime might weigh a hefty burden on your plant and its performance. A retrofitted mechanical draft fan can help offset that steep curve of cost, while still improving performance.
Tech That’s Taxed
Power plant fans have more than a knack for hanging around—with many still in operation from their first installation in the 1960s and ‘70s, lasting 40 to 50 years after the fact. But for all their staying power, they do have a downfall: unforeseen demands. Historically, power plant fans were configured with specific flow requirements in mind, and with little boundary for surplus. The influx of new regulations and a growing population has scaled up demands for both plants and fans, which can be hard to meet for a long-standing fan built half a decade back.
Why Retrofit A Fan
An all-new mechanical draft fan installation hits the checkbook—hard. Retrofitting a preexisting fan does not carry the same weight in cost: it’s much more economical to do. That’s in large part thanks to minimized adjustments throughout the fan’s infrastructure, with the core remaining much the same. In an ideal retrofit, the fan’s existing casing will still be used and modest-to-zero modifications will be made to the foundation.
A fan retrofit can be sought because of factors ranging far and wide, including fan retirement, an altered system demand, an upgrade in emissions control, a boiler fuel conversion, recently implemented environmental regulations, and more. And these issues don’t exist in a vacuum. In fact, an issue can domino down the chain, resulting in an assortment of temperature, pressure, volume, and characteristic changes. What that means is this: a retrofit, while much more cost-effective than a new installation, requires some engineering heft as well.
While a retrofit demands some measure of engineering, the cost-saving benefits, along with enhanced performance, are well worth it. If cost is critical, minor modifications in a few key areas can help you stay within budget: ductwork tie-ins, foundation footprint, related fan units, and even the existing fan itself. Successful retrofits can result from more than a few approaches, but two in particular make up the lion’s share of retrofits. These are right-sizing and optimization, both of which stay true to minimized modification.
The Next Steps
Fan retrofits benefit from something called a total system approach, which looks at and assesses individual components, zeroes in on critical paths, and develops a practical engineering plan. For help in that area, turn to ProcessBarron. Not only do we manufacture high-quality industrial fans: we also come equipped with the know-how to take a total system approach to your plant and mechanical draft fan retrofits. Contact someone qualified to help you, request a quote, and dive deeper into industry insights and more on our blog.