Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A look inside the gates of the Lacygne Power Plant

Timmy works at a Power Plant that is about an hour south of our house in La Cygne Kansas (pronounced LaSeen). Last Saturday, they had a "Family Day" which is rare, and I got a look inside the gates of an operating Power Plant.

OK, so they call it a Generating Station, but most of us know it as a "Power Plant".

Here is a picture of the plant that my stepson took for me as we were driving across the dam.

This Power Plant furnishes electricity to A MILLION houses and businesses in the Kansas City area. (Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas area.)

The red and white stacks you see are the old chimneys for the Power Plant. The grey concrete stack is the new chimney (just built this year) and is going to be used to create cleaner coal emissions. This is the answer to cleaning up the exhaust and emissions coming from the plant and into the air that we breathe. More on the cleaning process later.....

But first, it's FAMILY DAY at the Power Plant so let's see a little of the barbecue picnic and the fun they had set up for us:

There was a big yellow and white tent set up with tables and chairs for us to eat our lunch (hamburgers, hotdogs, potato salad, chips, drinks) and they had several fun things for the kids to do.

Everything was free to do, and we enjoyed cotton candy (I ate two!)

They had a fun airbrush tattoo booth.

I got my first tattoo!

Tim's step-mom is getting a tattoo too!

She got a butterfly:

My stepson Patrick also got a tattoo. He got a red fox:

After our tatoos, we walked around a little bit while we waited for Tim to join us. He was busy helping get all of the cars parked. That's my Timmy with his arm up directing cars, and that's Timmy's boss across the parking lot.

There was a little truck with ice cream, fried twinkies, fried oreos, etc.....all free for us for the day

A gal making balloon creations for the kids

They also had a photo booth.

Tim and I had some fun with the photo booth. We went in there expecting to just get a few "normal" pics of us together. 

Like this one:

But after she snapped the first shot, she called in to us that we should find a prop (from the buckets near our feet) and we had about 6 seconds to pick something out of the bucket before the next shot would be snapped. We went for it!

Our second shot had us both cracking up!! I grabbed a viking hat but
look at Timmy's lips!! That was too funny, and we could see the shot on a small screen inside the booth just after it was snapped.

We were laughing from looking at that shot, and now we had 6 seconds to pick a new prop. 
This is what we came up with, and of course there was more laughing when we saw the picture.

6 seconds later, and we looked like this:

Tim's bunny ears just kill me!!! 

The photobooth was quite a fun time. I had never been in a photobooth before, unless you count Chuck E Cheese's photobooth, but that was a long time ago, and they didn't have props.

Timmy showed us where he works in the warehouses. (The two metal buildings below) He is a Foreman and is in charge of shipping and receiving. Every single part, piece and bolt used in this project comes through the warehouse before it is distributed to it's final destination in the Power Plant.

Next we went to line up for the tour buses to tour the plant.

In this pic, Tim's dad (Bob) is in the green jacket and Tim's step-mom (Sue) is in blue.

That's a rare pic of Tim's son Patrick, and of course there is my Timmy:

While we waited for the tour buses, they had a crane running and were showing us how it works. They were letting kids "help" raise and lower the ball. It was a huge crane, and I'm sure this was thrilling for the little kids. I thought it was pretty cool. 

Within a few minutes, the tour buses came around to load us up for a tour.
There was a trolley

And there was some kind of yellow submarine looking bus. Tim and I picked the submarine bus:

The inside of the submarine bus was kinda cool. We found out later the submarine bus was a last minute pick. The other bus they had ordered for us had a problem and the submarine was a substitute. It was a nice bus, but a little difficult for picture taking because of those small round windows. It turned out OK, and I was able to get my pictures.

 On with the tour!

First, let me start with my disclaimer (and I'll make it quick): I know nothing about the operations of this or any Power Plant. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
The info I am about to give you is coming from what I learned on the tour. Timmy is doing his best to explain these pictures to me, and I'm doing my best to convey this info correctly. If you notice that I have any of my info wrong here, please feel free to correct me!

So, back to one of my "bigger pictures" of the whole plant,
The red and white stacks are the stacks they have been using since this Power Plant was built in 1973.

The concrete stack is the "new" stack, just built in the last year. It's purpose is to clean up the exhaust and emissions that come from the Power Plant.

La Cygne is a "coal fire generating station". In order to provide electricity to those million homes in Kansas City, they use turbines to generate electricity. 

The turbines are driven by steam. The steam is created by burning coal and heating water. 

Every day, a train full of coal arrives at the power plant with approximately 100 cars full of coal. 

The coal is burned, which then super-heats water in a boiler. This creates steam.  The steam turns the turbine, which turns the generator, which makes the electricity. 

The "building" below that looks like it is made entirely of scaffolding and pipes, is actually not really a building at all. It's a giant boiler.

Below is a closer view of the boiler.
You can see two boilers next to each other.

See the long green building? I'll point to it with a handy arrow....
The turbines are in that building

The structure being built in the picture below is going to be "Bag House #1"

The Bag House is going to be sort of like a giant vacuum cleaner. It will collect all of the ash out of the exhaust using forced air. The ash will be separated and collected.

Below, you can see a triangle thing. (I have no idea what the name of it is). That triangle thing is being welded together now. When it is complete, it will be turned upside down - pointy side down - and will be used to collect ash.

Below on the left, you can see a smaller building - with orange scaffolding -  they are building beside the new stack.
This will be an "Absorber" building. Here, ground limestone gets mixed with water and will be forced into the exhaust. This takes out the sulpher and also circulates. This absorber building will make the exhaust about 98% clean.

Another picture of the new Absorber building - with the small door - next to the new stack.
Inside the Absorber building will be balls (like small cannon balls) that will smash and pulverize the limestone.

These giant green things are liners for the new stack. They are made on site. They are made of a material that will not corrode from the lime.

These are ammonia storage tanks. They use ammonia to further clean the exhaust.

Below, the giant brown containers are the old fly-ash silos.
Fly-ash comes from the burning coal smoke. 
The fly-ash is collected through the Baghouse and then can be used for things like making concrete, or road bases.

Below is the conveyor that takes the limestone to the absorber building.

Below are giant pumps. They pull the water from the man-made lake that surrounds the Power Plant. The pumps pull the water out of the lake at 800,000 gallons per minute!! WOW!

The water is used to cool the steam, and then the water is sent back into the lake on the other side of the power plant. 
Because of the warm water constantly being sent back into the lake, this lake never freezes in the winter.

Some of the lake water is purified and used to create the steam.

That's all I have for our Power Plant tour............any questions??
HaHa, I sure hope not because I won't be able to answer them! (But you can ask anyway and I can ask Tim)

After our tour, the Family Day at the power plant was winding down. I enjoyed the day, and it was really nice to finally be able to see where my husband works!

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