Alice Springs dual-fuel project nears completion

An 11 MW dual-fuel engine made a 1500 km voyage from Darwin to a town near Alice Springs in April as part of the Owen Springs power installation project.

The project will eventually include three 51/60DF dual-fuel engines from MAN Diesel and is being constructed for major public utility Power and Water Corporation (PWC).

The engine is scheduled for commissioning in July 2010 with the complete power station scheduled for handing over to Power and Water Corporation in October 2010. Once operational, the Owen Springs power station will provide the highest efficiency open cycle power supply in Australia.

The first of Owen Springs’ three generator sets arriving in Darwin from France was a significant milestone, its 276 tonne bulk then having to be transported to the site using multiple prime movers and a low loading trailer. The land journey took six days via a carefully planned route.

PWC is a Northern Territory Government-owned corporation that services more than 80,000 customers and has 360 MW of existing power-generation capacity. The Owen Springs plant is based on three 10.9 MWe generator sets, each powered by a 12 cylinder, vee-configuration 12V51/60DF engine.

The generator sets will supply baseload power to the local grid in their gaseous-fuel mode, that is, burning natural gas ignited by a distillate fuel “micropilot”.

Stage one of the project, covering the construction of the power house, control room, switchroom, administration centre, tank farm, pump house and maintenance workshop buildings, is scheduled to be  completed in May.

The next phase, comprising the installation of mechanical and electrical systems is now underway. Piping is already largely complete while the installation of lube-oil and fuel-oil modules has started.

With its fuel flexibility and low emissions, the MAN Diesel 51/60DF targets applications where operation on a back-up fuel is either essential or desirable. The engine’s fuel flexibility centres on the capability to operate on either gaseous or liquid fuel, and to switch between them seamlessly at full-rated output.

The entire project has been modelled using 3D CAD software which in turn generated the isometric drawings necessary for pipework construction.

“Not only does this approach allow for a greater degree of accuracy and product control, but also results in improved site productivity,” MAN Diesel Australia engineering manager, Paul Howarth said.