Biomass Learns from Marine Safety

Houlder has used its experience of marine safety systems to design critical equipment for the UK’s first biomass power station.   Northumberland’s Lynemouth Power Station is the first in the UK to convert from coal to full biomass supply.  The biomass, sustainably-sourced renewable wood pellets, required new storage and process equipment including six 26m diameter, 40m high reinforced concrete storage silos.

Houlder was contracted by Sir Robert McAlpine to design and supply 3m2 emergency access doors for each new silo. The brief was to ensure the barrel doors remain securely closed under an internal pressure of 6 ton per m2 working load and have the capability to contain a 3 ton per m2 blast accident load case.

Remote opening from a safe location was a key requirement. Infrequent emergency use also meant any operating system needed to be robust and suited for its exposed coastal environment . The desired design life was 20 years. Houlder referred to its long experience of installing lifeboats and other marine safety critical equipment offshore in responding to Sir Robert McAlpine’s challenge. The resulting load release system, comprising an inner and outer frame, is well suited to safely and securely storing biomass fuel.

Houlder’s team of structural and controls engineers designed the doors before the project team supervised their construction and installation  (pictured) using local sub-contractors. The contract is an exciting new venture inland for Houlder’s  engineers. It is a clear demonstration of exciting opportunities to innovate across the sustainable energy sector.

Houlder’s marine equipment business, based in London and Tyneside, is no stranger to innovation having won numerous accolades including the SPE Offshore Achievement Award for Safety, The Seawork’s Spirit of Innovation Award, a British Engineering Design Team of the Award and recognition for Innovation by the Employee Ownership Association in recent years.

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“Charting a ‘solo’ course through this swirl of uncertainty is close to impossible. That’s why we’re often asked by clients to build their knowledge, evaluate their challenges and assess their options. We work closely with research funds and clean-tech providers by bringing decades of industry experience to bear. Our position is independent, technical ‘client friend’ for the decarbonising decades ahead.”

Rupert Hare, Chief Executive Officer

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