At the end of 2004, the UWEC (Union Water & Electricity Company) in the United Arab Emirates placed an order with ABB for online optimization and characteristic value computations for the seawater desalination plant in Fujairah. The order is worth 1.4 million euros, and is the core function for optimum plant utilization.
Drinking water production is a vital issue in the Gulf region. Because of its climatic conditions and the low precipitation there, seawater desalination is often the only option for providing process and drinking water in sufficient quantities. Since enough primary energy (natural gas) is available in this region at very affordable costs, thermal processes are the obvious option for desalination purposes. What is called the multi-stage-flush (MSF) process utilizes process heat from power plants to heat up and distil the seawater. Another process employed is reverse osmosis (RO), in which seawater is forced through a semi-permeable membrane under high pressure, thus arresting the salt molecules.
As a consequence of increasing privatisation, the operation of plants like this comes under stringent cost pressure. This is why their operators are looking for optimization initiatives in order to reduce the production costs of existing plants as well. In the case of seawater desalination facilities, the following approaches to optimization are indicated:
- optimizing the MSF process
- optimizing the RO process
- optimizing the power plant's scheduling, plus MSF and RO desalination
- computing key performance indicators (KPIs)
- maintenance optimization
These online optimization approaches are also being employed for the upgrade job at the plant in Fujairah. Given a rating of 662 MW and a production output of 450 million litres of water a day, very substantial savings can thus be achieved. The hybrid-type seawater desalination plant is located in the north of the United Arab Emirates and consists of four gas turbines, four waste-heat boilers, two steam turbines, five MSF desalination systems and one RO desalination system, which have been automated with a third-party system. A plant of such complexity can be optimized only by means of elaborate computer-based solutions.
The versatility of ABB's packages, their excellent references, and the assurance of fuel savings, were the crucial criteria for the client in choosing ABB as the supplier for this project. Under its extensive measures for characteristic value computations and plant optimization, ABB is supplying from its Optimax applications family:
These functions produce the following benefits for the client:
- information management with Power Generation Information Manager
- characteristic value computations with Plant Performance
- simulation and data validation with PowerCycle
- online optimization of the desalination plants with PowerCycle
- fuel requirement modelling with PowerCycle
- optimized generation scheduling with PowerFit
- lifetime computations for boilers, steam and gas turbines, using BoilerLife and Plant Performance
- exchanging data with the existing MAXIMO maintenance system
- optimized setpoint values for operator control and operator modes lead to reduced operating costs
- lower consumption of consumables (chemicals)
- reduced requirement for process steam in the MSF process
- optimized cleaning cycle and pressurising in the RO process
- improved analytics and comprehension of the process behaviour involved for the plant staff
After just seven months for preparation and delivery, three months of trial operation are scheduled for August to October 2005.
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