Comprehensive condition monitoring analysis for power plant boiler circulator pumps

  • Eric Bechhoefer aGPMS Inc. 40 Ridge Rd Cronwall, VT 05753
  • Ed Spence The Machine Instrumentation Group LLC, 4605 Myra Glen Place, Durham NC 27707
Keywords: Diagnostics and prognostics, CBM, induction motor, impact detection, rotor bar


The boiler circulator pump (BCP) is an integral part of the power plant operations in both conventional (coal/gas fired steam plant) or nuclear plants. The BCP moves super heated water under pressure to the steam generator. These pumps are glandless, megawatt induction power pumps. If the pump fails, the power plant must be removed from service to replace the pump. In many applications, these pumps serve power plant providing the base load power requirements of a community. The failure of a pump requires the operator to buy power from other generating plants at much higher rates. Glandless BCP pose a difficult problem for automated analysis, as there is no way to introduce a tachometer to measure pump speed. Further, while a relatively simple machine, the failure modes include: out of balance/bearing wear that is best measured by vibration, and rotor bar/opens/shorts /eccentricity that is best measured by current. Further, these machines are asynchronous and typically very well balanced, so that is difficult to determine shaft RPM from vibration. This paper discusses the analysis of BCP using both vibration and current analysis methods and the processing needed to automate fault detection.


Bates, G. H,. “Vibration Diagnostics for Industrial Electric Motor Drives”, Bruel & Kjaer Applications Note, 1980.

Parveenkumar, T., Saimurugan, M., Ramachandran, K. I., “Comparision of Vibraiton, Sound and Motor Current Signature Analysis for Detection of Gear Bos Faults”, International Journal of Prognostics and Health Management, 2017.

Miljkovic, D., “Brief Review of Motor Current Signature Analysis”, Hrčak Portal, Ministry of Science, Education and Sports. 2017.

Byington, C., Safa-Bakhsh, R., Watson., M., Kalgren, P. (2003). Metrics Evaluation and Tool Development for Health and Usage Monitoring System Technology. HUMS 2003 Conference, DSTOGD-0348.

Dempsy, P., Keller, J. (2008). Signal Detection Theory Applied to Helicopter Transmissions Diagnostics Thresholds. NASA Technical Memorandum 2008-215262.

Bechhoefer, E., He, D., (2011). A Process for Data Driven Prognostics, MFPT Publications, Dayton OH.

Bechhoefer, E., He, D., Dempsey, P. (2011). Gear Threshold Setting Based On a Probability of False Alarm. Annual Conference of the Prognostics and Health Management Society.

Bechhoefer, E., Bernhard, A. (2007). A Generalized Process for Optimal Threshold Setting in HUMS. IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky.