Package Steam Boilers to Provide Efficiency

Five modern, modular steam boilers have replaced three larger coal-fired boilers that comprised the steam plant at EM’s Paducah Site.

Moving to the more energy-efficient equipment is anticipated to save energy and maintenance dollars that can be invested elsewhere at the former Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP).

The environmentally friendly steam plant represents part of a larger effort by EM at the Paducah Site to right-size infrastructure for current and future needs. The effort also included the recent consolidation of the site’s four outdated and oversized electrical switchyards into a single switchyard providing a more efficient and sustainable supply of power.

The PGDP, which ceased enriching uranium in 2013, is being deactivated in preparation for future decontamination and decommissioning. For more than 62 years, the PGDP operated three massive coal-fired boilers capable of supplying 100,000 pounds of steam per hour for each boiler — enough to heat nearly 18,000 homes during the winter.

After evaluating current and future steam needs of the PGDP, and considering the age and cost of maintaining the existing coal-fired boilers along with environmental regulatory compliance needs and the cost of refurbishing the old boilers, the site decided to upgrade to the right-sized modular steam boilers.

The new boilers, which operate on natural gas and fuel oil, have been tied into the existing steam distribution system. A package boiler system is housed in multiple semitrailers and operates to provide steam on demand. The boilers are most efficient when they run at full capacity. When a boiler is turned down, the efficiency drops. To maximize efficiency, a series of five boilers were installed, allowing additional boilers to be added or removed as demand changes. The package boilers arrived at the site fully wired, equipped, and ready to tie into the site’s steam distribution system.

The boilers are necessary to support future projects at the site, such as removal of deposits in the plant piping left over from uranium enrichment operations. In addition to providing a reliable source of steam to implement site projects, the boilers will also provide heating for some office spaces during winter months.

“I am pleased we have been able to update the steam system at the site,” said Jennifer Woodard, the Paducah Site Lead for EM’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office. “We have a responsibility to be a good steward of the environment and taxpayer dollars, and these boilers will help us uphold that responsibility.”