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General information

At present in Russia there is a situation when speaking about simulators for fossil power plants everyone means something different. So first of all we are going to determine what we are talking about.

In the process of the electricity generation a lot of technicians are engaged including boiler and turbine operators, electricians, chemists and so on. All the technicians are required to be trained. The thermal simulators of the “Power plant simulators” company are intended to teach the boiler and turbine operators. The electrical simulators of the “Power plant simulators” company are intended to teach the electricians.

Professional skills of the boiler and turbine operators and electricians are based upon at least 2 components:

  • Theoretical knowledge of the reference information including the power unit operational instructions
  • Practical ability to implement the theoretical knowledge in the real live

Simulators developed by the “Power plant simulators” company are mainly intended to be used to train the practical ability.

The practical ability of the boiler and turbine operators consists of 2 components as well:

  • An ability to interact with ACS (Automatic Control System) installed at the power unit including the ability to quickly find a necessary information, to select the corresponding key, turn the key to the necessary direction and so on – so called the motor skills
  • An ability to analyze the current situation at the equipment and undertake to correctly run the power unit taking into consideration the current situation – so called intellectual skills

Simulators developed by the “Power plant simulators” company are mainly intended to be used to train the practical ability to analyze the current situation at the equipment and deliberately undertake the precise operations in any operational mode of the equipment including the most difficult ones, in particular:

  • the power unit start-ups from different initial conditions (cold, warm, hot)
  • a change of the power unit loading
  • the unit trip and following safeguarding
  • cooling down of the unit
  • and so on

We consider that the motor skills are necessary. But nevertheless we think that to develop and maintain at the high level the intellectual skills – is the most important part of the problem. In order to a one be able to do it some specialized technical means are required. The “Power plant simulators” company does develop such the technical means – simulators.

There are advanced requirements concerning the adequacy of the model for the simulators that are going to be used to train the intellectual skills. With all this going on if a simulator is going to be used to train the intellectual skills at the wide spectrum of the most complicated conditions of a power unit, the simulator has to be adequate in all the conditions. This is the main reason why the main efforts of the “Power plant simulators” company’s stuff are directed to permanent improvement of the simulation quality.

There are a few different fundamental approaches how to develop the power plant model for the simulators.

The widely spread approach in the world is that a simulator developer in essence imitate some known transient processes for the equipment. Some of the transient processes could be very complicated. For example, the power unit loading and unloading, cold start-up and so on could be imitated. And the more transient processes a simulator implements the better and expensive the simulator is.

A different approach that the “Power plant simulators” company has been successfully using during for some years consists in the fact that any transient process of the simulated equipment are being naturally implemented as a result of the power unit constructive and structural features. The approach uses fundamental physical principals, including the law of conservation of mass and energy, criterial heat exchange equations and so on. While working at a such a simulator an operator is able at any moment to conduct any action including an incorrect one and the simulator shell react the same way the real power unit would react at the same situation.

In more details the different approaches how to develop the power plant model for the simulators can be found here.

Of course even a super realistic model itself is not yet a simulator. In order to a software system could be called “Simulator to improve boiler and turbine operator’s intellectual skills” the software system must include a quality model of the power unit simulated. But it is far from enough. At least the following are required:

  • instructor station that implements all the standard for today features of the modern simulators, in particular the loading to the simulator of an initial state, the saving to the simulator’s data base of the current simulator conditions, the run mode, the freeze mode, the accelerated run of the simulator, the retarded run of the simulator, and so on
  • operator station with a user friendly interface, that allows trainees in a convenient form to apprehend the information about the current state of the power unit and to execute desirable impact to the simulated power unit
  • a software system that links all the parts of the simulator with each other and that provides the cooperation and synchronization of different simulator’s subsystems together
  • In the simulators developed by the “Power plant simulators” company all the features at least are not inferior to the world best other analogues.

    In more details the instructor station features of our simulators are described here.

    The fossil power industry traditionally compares the personal training system with the nuclear power industry. Frequently the personal training system of the nuclear power industry is considered to be a standard for the fossil power industry. From our point of view some specific features of the nuclear power industry distinguish it from the fossil power industry and make the nuclear power industry’s experience in the field of operator training to be not completely applicable to the fossil power industry.

    The main problem for the nuclear power industry is the nuclear safety. So any activity at a nuclear power plant is strictly limited by many instructions. While a nuclear power unit is working there is no problems of cost-efficiency – the main headache is the nuclear safety. If a nuclear power unit was stopped by any reason with a great likelihood it shell be cooling down till the cold conditions and after that the cold start-up shell be executed. So at any situation the only task for operators is to follow the instructions. Because the nuclear safety is extremely important, practically all the nuclear power plants establish some special conditions including the economic instruments to fasten operators to the power unit. In the circumstances the full-scale simulators with some precise reproduction of the power unit’s control room that are oriented to motor skills, malfunctions and emergency situations can be considered to be the expedient decision.

    The fossil power plants have fairly different problems. Of course on fossil power plants there are some expensive emergency situations too but they don’t have some disastrous effects. The control rooms of different power units on many fossil power plants could have some essential distinctions while management of the power plant hardly set up any economic instruments to fasten operators to the power unit. In Russia as a rule in the structure of the electricity costs the cost of the fuel averages the 80% of the total power plant spending. So a problem of increasing a degree of efficiency of electricity production with 0.1% only has at least the equal importance as the trouble-free operation. And you know that some notable efficiency increase could give even such simple measures like working with the minimum steam throttling at the control valves, the minimum using of injections and so on. In addition a temporary power unit shut-down for a some time with a subsequent start-up from a condition the power unit shell be formed at the moment of the order for start-up getting happens quite often. Would all the start-ups be doing as from the cold state (with tiny fuel supply, and slow heating up of all the power unit components) the power unit start-up would be a quite easy task for operators. But the point is that after a temporary unit shut-down the power utility dispatcher often requires to start-up the power unit as soon as possible. Normally it is possible to start a power unit up from a hot reserve state while 2-2.5 hours. But to do it the operator has to forcedly supply relatively plenty of fuel. He ought to do all the actions very quickly because if he loses the conditions for the hot start-up he is to do a warm start-up but any warm start-up requires much more time. In addition during a start-up the degree of the power unit efficiency is low so a long power unit start-up means the fuel waste. And it turns out that in order to perform the task formulated like this the merely knowing of the operational instructions is far from enough. A deep technology comprehension is required.

    For a vendor of a power plant simulator it is much easy to implement 20 malfunctions and emergency situations rather than to implement a warm start-up from a beforehand unknown initial state because during a warm start-up the operator’s active stage lasts a few hours and at least thousands control actions while during a malfunction or an emergency situation the operator’s active stage lasts a few minutes and at most hundreds control actions.

    All the above mentioned means that good simulators for fossil power units have to realistically implement different long lasting exercises where operators make thousands of control actions.

    Here 3 generations of the simulators for fossil power plants from the simulation technologies point of view are described. In Russia the majority of the simulator vendors for fossil power plants have till now been developing simulators that combine principles of the 1-st and the 2-nd generations. In order to implement regular power plant working modes in the loading range from 50% till 100% they try to use the 2-nd generation approach while to implement all the other working modes the 1-st generation approach is being used. And the “Power plant simulators” company only develop the 3-rd generation simulators.

    By purchasing our simulators you obtain a tool that can help you to teach your operators not only how to act during some malfunctions but for example how to increase the performance factor of your fossil power unit. It is a well-known fact that at the Russian fossil power plants even the most experienced operators are not able to pay attention to the economic components of the power units operation. At the same time those operators that passed through our simulators are able to do it. They are able to comprehend how to slightly change the current mode of operation of the power unit to make its economic indices better.