Many problems and much damage needs to be addressed in our aging population of electrostatic precipitators. More than 1,800 ESPs exist in power plants across the United States alone. Many fail to perform their task and the EPA forces plants to reduce output to bring emissions into line. That costs a utility millions of dollars in replacement power.
A new precipitator costs millions more. Once replaced, it’s likely that the internals will be damaged again. Perversely, this state of affairs is largely brought about by the regulators themselves. Damage is usually due to the mandated use of low-sulfur coal in boilers designed to burn high-sulpur fuel, leading to “carbon carry-over” and fires that damage delicate precipitator internals. Other excursions occur in all sorts of units. Typical problems found during an internal inspection are shown in the following pages.