Arguing with experts.

So today I was working as control room operator and Rusty was in the room monitoring the trends of his tuning work with satisfaction.  I mostly agree.  Primary air biases removed.  Tight MW control.  Tight pressure control.  O2 bias down to 0.75 from 0.9 (should be even lower though) with minimal CO spikes at full load.   And he installed a feed forward from coal flow to the attemperation valves for extra credit.

Then he asks me to look at a trend from last night where he has these tight little rhythmic MW swings.  I tell him they’re a side effect of the Feedwater swings (which were outside the scope of his work).  He says “Oh, so FW master is chasing these load swings.”  And I say “that’s what I thought too, but the FW swings start first.”

He takes a long pause to try and figure out how to explain systems to an idiot… and he goes for the Socratic “So how do the swings in FW propogate into the steam flow?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well the physics of it doesn’t make any sense.”

“I agree.  It doesn’t make any sense.  It still happens.  If data and theory disagree I go with the data 9 times out of 10.”

Another long pause.  “Well next time it happens try shifting the mode control from BoilerFollow+MW to BoilerFollow2.  If I’m right, the FW swings will stop.  If they don’t then we’ve ruled out the turbine valves as the root cause.”

This exchange irritated me a lot.  And the part that’s really hurting my brain, is that he has every right to be skeptical of my claim of data that he hasn’t seen (historical trends don’t have the precision to prove the case either way).  He didn’t say anything I wouldn’t when trying to convince someone that they were getting their cause and effect mixed up.  The guy with 34 years of power plant experience doubted my observational skills when I said something that didn’t make any sense.  This should not be a surprise.

It makes me wonder how well I’d get along with me.


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