Due to the increased penetration of renewable power sources into the electric grid, the current number of existing coal-fired power plants shifting from baseload to load-following operations has also increased. This shift creates challenges especially for the power industry as coal-fired power plants were not designed for ramping situations, leading to added stress on major components of these plants. This stress causes the system to degrade over time and eventually develop faults. As boilers are still the primary component that fails and causes forced outages, accurate characterization of faults and fractures of boilers is now becoming increasingly critical to reduce plant downtime and extend the plant life during cycling operations. This work focuses on modeling sections of a subcritical coal-fired power plant and proposes algorithms for fault detection in MATLAB/Simulink. The developed model simulates the process dynamics including steam and feedwater flow regulating valves, drum-boiler, and heat rate on the regulation of pressure, drum level and production of saturated steam. The model also simulates the dynamics of superheaters for increasing the energy content of steam, and a spray section for regulating the temperature of steam upstream of the high-pressure turbine to allow for power output adjustment within a given valve operating range.

Furthermore, an extension to a leak detection framework proposed by co-authors in previous work is explored. The new framework includes a modification to the threshold analysis portion of the previous work. The extended framework is then applied to a subcritical coal-fired power plant model for leak detection. In particular, this framework analyzes mismatches or deviations in expected plant dynamics with an identified transfer function model. The mismatch is flagged after it exceeds a threshold. The developed algorithm thus aids in rapid detection of faults to reduce impeded plant performance. The results of this work will support real plant operations by providing an accurate characterization of faults in the operation of coal-fired power plants.

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