Tight Fit for a Retrofit
Tight Fit for a Retrofit
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Tight Fit for a Retrofit
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Cooper Station project overcomes karst topography in completing challenging air quality control system upgrade.

In the past decade, East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) has brought online six landfill gas power plants, making it the single largest source of renewable energy in Kentucky.

Its coal-fired power plants, however, needed upgrades to keep up with requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EKPC entered into a consent decree agreement with the EPA and turned to Burns & McDonnell for engineering, procurement and construction management services to meet requirements for its 225-megawatt Cooper Station Unit 2.

To meet future Clean Air Act and consent decree requirements, the power plant needed a flue gas desulfurization (FGD) system to reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2), a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx), and pulse jet fabric filters (PJFFs) to reduce particulate matter emissions. Failure to make the upgrades on time would put the utility at risk of significant fines or generation reduction. Despite early planning and contract awards made on time, the project came with inherent challenges — one of the more significant of which was the geology of the project site.

"In that region, we always know there's a chance of karst topography — essentially underground caves — but we never know the extent until we excavate," says Brian Basel, Burns & McDonnell project manager for the Cooper Station project. On this project, the EKPC/Burns & McDonnell team decided to do a mass excavation of the site to minimize risk to the project schedule. "It took a significant amount of time to open up all those spots and mitigate their impact, which included filling them with concrete," he said.

Conditioning the existing site was imperative for the project because in addition to the challenging topography, the space available to add the equipment was limited. Cooper Station was built on a cliff above Lake Cumberland, making any space for expansion nearly nonexistent.

"We spent a lot of time optimizing the location with accessibility and constructability in mind so the equipment could be installed and operated successfully in such a tight footprint," says Scott Strawn, Burns & McDonnell business development manager in Energy. "The new equipment must be installed in a certain order, so our team had to think outside the box when designing the arrangement."

Key to making the project a success was the cooperation between EKPC and Burns & McDonnell, which worked as an extension of the EKPC staff, allowing better efficiency. Cooper Station Unit 2 retrofit systems went online in mid-summer 2012, meeting the deadline for installation, testing, and startup and commissioning.

For more information, contact Scott Strawn, 816-823-7153.

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