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Saturday, April 22, 2006


So maybe I ought to share what's up at the power plant. We're at the end of an outage where the major work has been a hot gas path inspection on both combustion turbines. For other maintenance reasons we also purged all three generators of hydrogen. Hydrogen is commonly often used as a cooling medium on mid/large size electrical generators - 100 Megawatts and up.

Last night I filled one of the three generators with Hydrogen gas. It's seldom a fun or smooth process. The air has to be swept out of the generator with CO2 to very high purity, then the Hydrogen is used to remove the CO2. When you initially begin feeding hydrogen into the machine, you always question if your analyzers are are properly aligned, if it's really full of CO2, or if you are adding Hydrogen to air (explosive mix). Eventually you start seeing the hydrogen on the gas analyzers, but that's only after 30-60 minutes of feeding hydrogen into the generator.

Afterwards I buttoned up the main condenser, filled it with water, and started filling one of the boilers. I chickened out filling it completely though. The level indicators on the boiler were each reading a different value before we started, and I knew darn well it was empty! So we filled it for half an hour and we still saw no level, and at that point I decided to avoid flooding anything, and we stopped filling.

We released a few equipment clearances and got ready what equipment that we could. We got a lot accomplished for just two of us. The other fellow on my crew is out sick right now.

When I awoke today work had called, and they would like me to come in on Sunday and Monday. No problem! This is the fun part of power plants. I can't believe they pay me so well to come in and play with big, big toys. Sometimes it's hairy (like the generator fill), but it's an intellectual challenge and lots of fun happens when you push the go button. I'm an adrenaline junkie, and to me a cold start is like a six-hour long aircraft take-off.

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