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MEMPHIS: fibre optic sensors in thermal power plants

Through predictive maintenance strategies, the MEMPHIS project aims to develop a distributed monitoring and control platform that allows problems arising from the cyclic operation of power plants to be mitigated.

Picture of a power plants in representation of MEMPHIS
Litoral thermal power plant (Almería)

Thermal generation is facing a challenge: operating cleanly, efficiently and flexibly while also adapting to the variability of demand that results from the intermittent nature of renewable energies.

Within this context, coal and biomass thermal power plants and combined cycles function in a cyclical manner, at partial loads, and with frequent starts and stoppages. However, these plants were not designed for cyclical functioning, which occasionally poses problems related to the deterioration of materials and the accelerated consumption of the useful life of pipes and components.

“A series of fibre optic sensors will be developed to measure hostile environments, like the interior of combustion boilers and the heat recovery boilers of electrical plants.”

The MEMPHIS project is intended to mitigate the problems from the cyclical functioning of power plants, by adopting predictive maintenance strategies based on several operating parameters, thus minimising the impact on the useful life of the materials. Therefore, its main objective is to develop a distributed monitoring and control platform (PMCD, for its acronym in Spanish), which allows acting in a dynamic, intelligent and autonomous manner, effectively adapted to the operating regime needed for the demand at all times, enabling operations of predictive maintenance, reducing unscheduled stoppages and ensuring a minimum level of emissions.

To meet these objectives, a series of fibre optic sensors capable of measuring variables like temperature and the deterioration of materials in hostile environments will be developed, like the interior of combustion boilers and heat recovery boilers of the electrical plants.

The MEMPHIS consortium is a project that we will lead to cover the entire value chain of the technologies that will be developed along with ENCE Energía y Celulosa as generators of thermal energy. We will provide our experience in the different types of generation (gas, coal and biomass) and the scenarios for the case studies. Specifically, we will install sensors in the San Roque (combined cycle) and Litoral (coal) power plants to measure the temperature of the pipes and steam collectors inside the boilers. Those sensors will provide information about the stress suffered by the materials and will serve to perform predictive maintenance, which allows improving the efficiency of the equipment.

To develop the technology, this consortium also features TECNATOM, which will provide its experience and knowledge of the operation and maintenance of energy plants and the analysis and interpretation of many processes and operations.

Técnicas de Soft will provide its experience in the development and integration of platforms adapted to the needs of the companies and the sector. Finally, the AIMEN Technology Centre will provide its vast experience in the development and research of monitoring solutions based on fibre optic sensors.

MEMPHIS is a large integrated project that includes experimental development activities and the implementation of technology in important environments.

The MEMPHIS project, framed within the RETOS-COLABORACIÓN 2017 programme (2017 CHALLENGES-COLLABORATION programme), is financed by FEDER funds and is supported by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and the State Bureau of Investigation.

Logos de las empresas que forman parte del consorcio de Menphis
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