Uniper Franken plant - A turnkey case study

Howden expertise solves competitor's long lasting problems

Uniper, an experienced international energy company formerly known as E-On, was subject to a series of problems on a FD fan at its Franken plant in Germany.

The fan was installed and fixed numerous times by a competing fan company but the root of the problem had never been addressed.

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Inside an Axial fan

The challenge

The Franken plant provides reliable and flexible capacity that can balance supply and demand to maintain grid stability. However, the plant had experienced a series of fan issues over the years. The OEM had tried time and again to make small fixes to the fan but the vibrations were still very high.

Finally, the stiffeners supporting the main bearings cracked and broke off due to vibrations, and Uniper established that the damage caused to the rotor was beyond repair. Tired of continuous small fixes, the operators sought Howden’s opinion on the matter due to our extensive experience in fan engineering.

The results

After the successful completion of the project, the fan is now running with minimal vibrations and with increased performance. These improvements allowed the boiler to run on full capacity and meet the required supply to the grid. High technical knowledge and proven advisory expertise allowed Howden to finally solve a problem that the competitors had tried to fix for over 30 years.

The technical project management worked very well. Even with a very complex installation situation and a very tight schedule, everything went fine. The installed fan works excellent and will help us secure our availability."

Stefanie Pfriem, Uniper

The solution

After our initial investigation we established that the root of the problem were the movements of the fan housing originating from a weak steel foundation, and so, we conducted a supplementary torsion analysis to demonstrate this to the client. We considered the pros and cons of repair versus a complete replacement and, after some deliberation, we finally recommended to change the steel foundation as well as the fan to prevent future vibrations. The solution entailed new fan housing and Variax rotor, a steel foundation and vibration springs, a combined oil unit, two hubs and oil-filled blade bearings, a high pressure blade profile in aluminium material, coupling and a stall warning and alarm system.

When we, at Howden, take on a project, we strive for the best possible outcome. Therefore, we will only offer a lasting solution and thus eliminate the inheritance of problems from quick fixes. This is one of the main factors that led the client to trust Howden over the OEM despite entailing a larger investment at the time.

Even though there was a tight schedule to deliver this service, we were certain that this was the best solution for the client and, therefore, we put it at the top of our priority list. Moreover, the FD fan was located on a foundation at 71m above the boiler, making the project much more challenging than normal.

Howden not only demonstrated an ability to plan and execute a full operation efficiently, but the exercise restored confidence in the reliability of the fan. Despite all odds, we exceeded Uniper's expectations by delivering the project in six months instead of the usual ten.


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