EPRI Set to Test Cooling Water Intake Screens

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has secured a test site to evaluate fine-mesh screen performance on power plant cooling water intake structures.

The screens are a key technology that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering as a way to protect fish and other species living near the structures.

The testing is part of a new research project to evaluate fine-mesh screen performance in sediment and debris-laden rivers. The test site will be Kansas City Power & Light Company’s Hawthorn Station, an electric generation facility on the Missouri River northeast of Kansas City, Mo.

Data generated from the fine-mesh screen testing is expected to provide important information to EPA as the agency revises the Clean Water Act §316(b) Phase II rule. The rule may require the use of screening technologies for fish and shellfish protection on cooling water intake structures and would apply to power plants using once-through cooling at more than 50 million gallons of water daily. A new draft version for public review and comment is expected in mid-2010.

EPA is considering a technology requirement to retrofit fine-mesh (£2.0 millimeter) screens at all applicable facilities as a central feature of a revised Phase II rule. There are numerous U.S. power plants operating with fine-mesh screens but none is located along waterways with heavy sediment and debris loads commonly found in Midwestern rivers, particularly the Missouri River and its tributaries.

The Hawthorn facility is an ideal site for testing as the plant is subjected to heavy loads of leaves, wood byproducts, corn husks, and other debris at its water intakes.

“If the screens overlaying the cooling water intake structures become clogged with debris from the water source, it could threaten cooling flow reliability and plant reliability, resulting in equipment damage and station outage,” said Douglas Dixon, senior program manager for EPRI’s Fish Protection Program. “The research results will be used to help determine the practicality of requiring a technology retrofit of fine-mesh screens in all operating conditions under a revised §316(b) Phase II rule.”

The Hawthorn facility has conventional coarse-mesh (9.5 millimeter) screens on its water intake system. Fine-mesh screen overlays will be installed on one intake bay and operated continuously through 2009 and early 2010.

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