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Ames Power Plant back down after minor setback

Source: 
Ames Tribune

For the first time since June 2018, boiler seven at Ames Power Plant was operational on Sunday after repairs on two of the plants' boilers were ongoing.

However, after only a few hours of being back online, an oil leak was discovered and a grate, which is supposed to collect ash from the bottom of the boiler broke off, forcing the power plant to go offline on Monday, Ames Power Plant Manager Curtis Spence said.

Even though there is a lot of frustration within the power plant, these types of minor setbacks are not out of the ordinary for such a complex process, according to Spence.

"It is normal just because it's such a complicated system," Spence said. "There is just so many different things going on that during a start-up of this nature, it is kind of normal to find these things you need to respond to and make adjustments."

Even though there have been several minor set backs, officials hope boiler seven is up-and-running by next Wednesday, Spence said. The initial goal for the city and power plant was to have the plant running by Christmas, but on Dec. 23, officials found a regulator that needed to be replaced.

Contractors have been working on getting the boiler back online since Monday.

Garbage processing at the city's Resource Recovery Plant has again been put at a halt due to the set backs and the city has resumed taking its trash to a landfill in Boone. Despite that, there are still plenty of options for waste and recyclables other then the landfill, said Bill Schmitt, the resource recovery superintendent.

The Resource Recovery Plant opened in 1975 as the first municipally owned facility that converts waste materials, such as wastewater or municipal waste, into usable energy sources.

Some of those options include a glass drop-off locations scattered throughout Story County's grocery stores and at the Resource Recovery Plant, metals such as soup cans can also be dropped off for free at the Resource Recovery Plant, Schmitt said.

Another program which has been used to help divert the waste going into the landfill is the Food Waste Diversion (FWD) pilot program, which allows residents to purchase a food bucket and punch card to dump food at the resource recovery plant.

The project at the Power Plant has been to repair two of the plant's boiler units, seven and eight, which over time have suffered severe corrosion due to the change in material waste.

"Over the years, plastics have been introduced and our garbage has changed so much in 40 years, that it's now made up of predominantly plastic," Dom Kom, the city's director of electrical services said.

The boilers were built nearly 40 years ago and were not made to resist the different plastic compound, Kom said. By coating the boilers with inconel, a nickel-based product which would decrease the corrosion, the boilers will be able to handle extreme environments subjected to pressure and heat.

Although boiler seven will be back online shortly, there is no timetable for boiler eight as the bidding process for a contractor and actual repair time is impossible to judge, Kom said.

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(c)2020 the Ames Tribune, Iowa

Visit the Ames Tribune, Iowa at www.amestrib.com

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