Recovery Act - Terahertz Imaging in Kraft Recovery Boilers

Award Information
Department of Energy
Award Year:
Phase II
Award Id:
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
05 b
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
23616 SE 225th Street, PO Box 469, Maple Valley, WA, 98038
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Peter Ariessohn
(206) 251-2505
Business Contact:
Peter Ariessohn
(206) 251-2505
Research Institution:
Recovery boilers are a key component of all kraft pulp mills and are often the production bottleneck in such mills. Formation of deposits on the outside of heat transfer tubes can cause plugging of the gas passages within the convective sections of the boiler leading to unscheduled outages and lost production. High pressure steam lances (sootblowers) used to clean the outside of these heat transfer surfaces consume as much as $1 million in steam per year per boiler, but the lack of adequate real-time inspection capability in large sections of the boiler prevent effective and efficient use of these sootblowers to remove deposits leading to excessive steam usage. The proposed project will demonstrate and develop a terahertz measurement/imaging system that can be used to produce clear images at all locations within the interior of an operating kraft recovery boiler and quantitative measurements of the thickness and size of saltcake deposits on heat transfer tubes, allowing for more efficient use of sootblowing steam to remove deposits and potential savings of ~0.01 Quads of energy worth more than $50 million per year nationwide. The energy savings is accompanied by reductions in pollutants associated with the production of that saved energy, amounting to ~8,000 tons of SO2, 5,500 tons of NOx, and one million tons of CO2 per year nationwide. In Phase I, we successfully demonstrated terahertz imaging of boiler tubes inside a kraft recovery boiler and showed that this technology has the ability to measure the size and thickness of saltcake deposits on those tubes. We demonstrated that visibility in the boiler environment is substantially better in the terahertz range than in the infrared where current boiler imaging systems operate. And, we demonstrated that the terahertz imaging system can detect differences in the optical properties of saltcake deposits at different frequencies offering the potential to measure deposit chemistry in-situ in real-time. In Phase II, we will develop the capability to quantitatively measure the thickness of deposits in real-time, we will develop a miniaturized, low-cost version of the imaging system, and we will conduct tests in a recovery boiler to demonstrate the ability of this technology to provide quantitative data that can be used as feedback to a sootblowing control system to minimize sootblowing steam usage. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: While the proposed project is focused on kraft recovery boilers, there is also a great need for these same capabilities in many other industrial process operations such as coal-fired boilers, biomass boilers, cement kilns, and spray drying applications such as skim milk dryers where deposits on the dryer surfaces can present an ignition hazard.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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