Q. Why are Microbeam’s services beneficial?
A. Microbeam helps its clients save thousands to millions of dollars in operation costs. We can help predict, prevent, and solve costly system problems through our advanced analysis methods by determining and predicting the effects of ash on combustion and environmental-system performance. Based on more than 20 years of business in fuels analysis, we have the knowledge and experience to guide system managers towards the most efficient and cost-effective operation possible. Call us today at 701-777-6530 to learn more.
Q. We have an ash-deposition problem. How can Microbeam help us to determine what caused it?
A. To determine the cause of an ash-deposition problem, Microbeam uses scanning electron microscopy point count (SEMPC) analysis and morphological analysis. These analyses methods provide information on the degree of melting and interaction of the various deposited ash particles. SEMPC supplies a quantitative determination of the abundance of phases present in the ash. By examining the phases present, the material responsible for the formation of the deposit is identified.
Microbeam also uses the SEMPC technique to identify and quantify the amount of melted phases and their viscosities. These melt phases are responsible for ash deposition. We use this information to determine the origin of the liquid-phase components and operating conditions (temperature and oxygen) that caused the deposit to form. In addition, various regions in deposits and individual entrained ash particles are examined to determine the changes that occurred with operating conditions (temperature and oxygen levels).
Morphological analysis supplements the SEMPC analysis well because it provides information about the physical relationships of the microscopic components of the deposit. Morphological analysis reveals the size, crystallinity, and juxtaposition of the phases present.
Think of us this way – Microbeam is the “CSI” of the slagging and fouling world. Microbeam’s experience base along with our advanced methods of analysis allow us to determine the fuel properties and operating conditions responsible for ash deposition. Information from our “forensics” analysis of ash deposits provides insight into the optimum temperatures of operation for a given fuel.
Q. How can Microbeam help us improve our power-plant operations?
A. Microbeam developed Coal Quality Management Systems (CQMS) software to help coal-mining and power-plant operations personnel use fuel-quality information to make operational adjustments that increase plant efficiency and minimize maintenance costs.
Using CCSEM and chemical fractionation fuel-quality data, CQMS provides relative comparisons of fuels by calculating the following power-system performance indices: Convective Pass Fouling, Wall Slagging, Cyclone Slagging, Wear Indices, Deposit Strength, Slag Flow Behavior, and Ash Resistivity.
These advanced power-system performance indices directly relate coal characteristics to ash behavior in a coal-fired utility boiler. The ability of the CQMS-generated indices to provide valid quantitative projections is related to specific boiler operation. Our results to date have been very promising, and we have helped numerous power plants and utilities attain more efficient operation.
Q. How long has Microbeam been in the fuel industry business?
A. In 1991, Microbeam began as a spin-off laboratory from the University of North Dakota Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC). Steve Benson founded Microbeam with the mission to provide service analyses for coal industry clients using specialized scanning electron microscopy (SEM) techniques developed at the EERC. Today, Microbeam is a recognized leader in advanced fuel-quality analysis and serves its clients toward achieving enhanced system performance.
Q. Who are Microbeam’s clients?
A. Since Microbeam established offices in Grand Forks, North Dakota, we have performed more than 1450 commercial projects providing advanced analysis to clients from the power industry, boiler manufacturers, coal companies, researcher organizations, and others.