19 May 2020

Heat Stress Mitigation: Turbine Building Cooling Increases Worker Stay Time

Fossil Fuel Power Plant
 

High temperatures can have all sorts of detrimental effects on power stations, from unplanned outages to equipment breakages and even negative health problems for workers.

But sometimes high heat is unavoidable - we’re talking times when you need the aircon switched off to be able to carry out maintenance and modifications. 

It sounds like a catch 22, right? 

Heat is bad, but sometimes heat is unavoidable. So what’s the solution? How can you keep operations ticking over as normal when temperatures get a little too hot to handle? 

One nuclear station in Michigan dealt with this first hand. Their turbine building was scheduled in for modifications during a refueling outage which meant the aircon system had to be shut down completely. Unfortunately, the turbine building was already uncomfortably warm and, without the aircon, it would just get hotter and hotter, creating a heat-stress restricted work environment. 

The plant was already seeing a drop in revenue due to the outage, and the heat-stress would mean that processes would face even more downtime as workers wouldn’t be able to perform their duties properly - something the plant just couldn’t afford. 

As luck would have it, all this was happening during record high outdoor temperatures, too, which meant that the nuclear station needed a temporary cooling solution, pronto. 

Designing a Unique (and Speedy) Solution

We helped the Michigan station build a solution that, first of all, fitted inside the limited space in the turbine building and, secondly, cooled temperatures down as quickly and as safely as possible so workers could continue their jobs. 

Our experts designed a system that chilled water and air from the ground floor throughout the 3-story building, while our engineering group, the Aggreko Process Services team, and the station’s outage project team came together to develop and implement a cooling solution made up of modular mechanical refrigeration units and skid-mounted air handlers. We also installed temporary diesel-powered generators and over half a mile of hose and ducting. 

The end result was comfortable temperatures throughout the building, which allowed workers to carry on as normal while making sure the refueling outage lasted not a second longer than it needed to.