Emerson Process Management’s Smart Wireless technology is helping San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) increase throughput, extend asset life, and improve process efficiency and safety at its Palomar Energy Center in Escondido, Calif.

Five applications of Emerson’s WirelessHART network use Rosemount wireless transmitters communicating with a single Smart Wireless Gateway to collect new, continuous data for SDG&E. The wireless network is integrated with Emerson’s Ovation expert system in the plant. The data from the wireless network is integrated into Emerson’s Ovation expert control system which monitors and controls critical plant processes.

“Emerson Smart Wireless is very easy, very reliable,” said Steve Lyons, SDG&E instrument technician. “We used wireless for the ease of installation; we did not have to run any power or instrument wiring and that was a great cost savings benefit.”

Improved efficiencies and asset protection
SDG&E has increased its cooling tower throughput with the help of real-time cooling riser data delivered by Rosemount wireless temperature transmitters. The reliable technology helps it tap process data that was previously uncollected and use it for efficiency calculations.

“Now we can use the efficiency calculation to confirm that cooling fans are running at correct speeds,” said Lyons. “With this confirmation, we do not have to over-compensate, which gives the plant better thermal efficiency."

In a second application, turbine compartment temperatures are checked continuously by wireless temperature transmitters to detect leaks of turbine exhaust cooling air. Previously, SDG&E had only switches that would close if the temperature reached a certain point, but had no temperature data to indicate leaks.

“The new data allows us to perform maintenance when needed, and less on a scheduled basis. As a result we have cut our preventive maintenance on the turbines in half,” Lyons said.

A third Smart Wireless application of Rosemount wireless pressure transmitters detects air leaks from two forced draft fans as each alternately sits idle while the other runs to cool turbines.

“Wireless pressure data has helped us find leaks in a more expeditious manner,” Lyons said. “We’re able to lower the fans’ amps, which has lengthened their lifetime. Every five years, we will save approximately one fan motor, which costs $15,000 to $20,000.”

In a fourth application, Rosemount wireless DP transmitters check inlet air filters that protect turbine blades in an area subjected to construction dust. When filters are fouled, turbine efficiency is severely reduced. SDG&E’s filter cleaning system did not provide accurate filter condition readings.

“After installing wireless DP, we have improved turbine efficiency and reduced our megawatt usage,” Lyons said. “With better DP information across the filters we can clean them at the proper time.”

Personnel safety improved
In a fifth Smart Wireless application, SDG&E installed a Rosemount wireless temperature transmitter to monitor pipes on the facility’s fire safety system. Pipe temperatures can rise to 160 degrees if pumps are accidentally left on after weekly tests.

“This protects against pump damage, which could cost the plant $20,000 per pump. But the greatest benefit is protection of personnel from burns,” Lyons said.

Installation and commissioning of the devices were easy and the cost-effective, self-organizing network has performed without problems since start-up. It took company personnel about an hour to install each device; it would have taken an estimated two weeks to run cable to install a single wired monitor.

“One of the great benefits of Emerson’s Smart Wireless devices is that we can install them ourselves instead of hiring contractors,” Lyons said. “The ability to do it ourselves in a fraction of the time delivered big savings.”

For instance, SDG&E saved $15,000 to $20,000 per device, compared to a wired solution for each DP transmitter installed on the turbine air filters, because of the distance between the equipment and the control room.

In addition to the Smart Wireless solutions already installed at SDG&E, Emerson offers a wide range of wireless field instrumentation and plant operations equipment, including Fisher position monitors, Rosemount analytical and Machinery Health Management devices, and native wireless interfaces to AMS Suite predictive maintenance software, and SmartStart services.

Because wireless is flexible and scalable, power producers can use the technology wherever it makes sense for their plant. By picking even one small application, users can achieve improvements that would not be possible in a traditional plant configuration. In addition to those at SDG&E, potential power plant applications include monitoring pressure relief valves, monitoring the corrosion in pipelines and vessels, monitoring temperatures at pre-heaters and pumps in order to improve thermal efficiencies, and freely deploying vibration analyzers – even when the equipment itself is rotating.

About Emerson Process Management
Emerson Process Management, an Emerson business, is a leader in helping businesses automate their production, processing and distribution in the chemical, oil and gas, refining, pulp and paper, power, water and wastewater treatment, mining and metals, food and beverage, life sciences and other industries. The company combines superior products and technology with industry-specific engineering, consulting, project management and maintenance services. Its brands include PlantWeb, Syncade, DeltaV, Fisher, Micro Motion, Rosemount, Daniel, Ovation and AMS Suite.