Weidlinger: Algonquin Power Cogeneration Plant Reconfiguration Project Receives Connecticut Associated Builders and Contractors Top Award

Weidlinger Associates designed many aspects of the intricate plan to erect a massive boiler on a narrow, inaccessible site and transport it on rails into an existing building, from which an entire wall was removed.

Boston, MA, March 12, 2013 --(PR.com)-- Global engineering firm Weidlinger Associates, Inc. (www.wai.com), collaborated with R.G. Vanderweil Engineers, LLP, and general contractor Cianbro Corporation on the $7.6-million Algonquin Power Cogeneration Plant Reconfiguration Project in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, which received a 2012 Excellence in Construction Award from the Associated Builders and Contractors Connecticut Chapter. The project was also named the 2012 Top Project in Connecticut (Best in Show) by the organization.

The newly engineered 14MWe/55,000 lb/hr CHP (combined heat and power) facility was placed into full service in July 2012.The electricity and steam it generates is required to operate a nonsite mill owned by Ahlstrom, an international company that manufactures high-quality nonwovens and specialty papers from natural and synthetic fibers. Conversion to cogeneration, supported by state funding, increased the plant’s energy efficiency and cost effectiveness and reduced its emissions below Department of Environmental Protection requirements. As a bonus, power that is not needed by the client will be sold back to the grid.

Cianbro described the project, which required the installation of a Solar Titan 130 Series natural-gas-fired combustion turbine generator with an IST once-through steam generator, as “one of the most challenging projects that [they] had been asked to perform in recent years. The main challenges were related to the massive size of the boiler, the constrained access/egress, and the lack of physical space inside the existing facility.”

Normally, a boiler of this size is built prior to erecting the building enclosure or brought in through the roof of an existing building. It was not feasible, however, to remove Algonquin’s 70-foot-high roof, which is supported by a massive truss, due to access issues. Cianbro developed an alternative scheme of erecting the boiler on a 600-ton crane outside the building in a narrow space between a canal and the Connecticut River and transporting it into the building on heavy-lift rails, using a strand-jacking process. The boiler consisted of four modules, stacked and welded onsite. The finished unit was jacked up and placed on rollers so that it could be pulled into the building.

Weidlinger engineers, led by Boston-based Principal Steven Lew, PE, and Associate Principal and Project Manager Wayne Siladi, PE, developed crucial analyses and designs that (1) facilitated raising a utilities bridge six feet to allow the crane to pass beneath it, (2) established the feasibility of removing a bracing bay from the existing building, and (3) secured the foundations and access platforms for the massive units during erection and final installation.

“The turbine foundations were the most difficult,” said Siladi. “Micropiles were used to isolate the turbine so as not to damage a 24-inch-diameter cooling pipe located underneath it. Heavy machines of this type can produce eccentric loading patterns that cause excess vibrations and compromise nearby structures.” Foundation construction, with proximity to “live” systems, included slab removal; excavation; and installation of form work, reinforcing, anchor bolts, and conduits. The piping from the mass foundation was isolated using temporary cardboard forms.

The project, which took months of planning, was accomplished with only a three-day shutdown of the plant in March 2012. It was completed under budget and ahead of schedule, with no lost time incidents or regulatory NOVs (notices of violations).

Weidlinger’s Massachusetts office, which recently relocated from Cambridge to South Boston, was established in 1962. Recent award-winning projects include the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Art of the Americas Wing; the MIT Media Lab Extension; and the LEED Gold-certified JW McCormack Post Office and Courthouse Renovation and Upgrade. After successfully supporting contractors in building the Boston Central Artery/Tunnel, the office expanded its services to include geotechnical and civil engineering, construction support services, and engineering of heavy industrial facilities, including power plants.

In Connecticut, Weidlinger was responsible for protecting utilities during the demolition of the New Haven Coliseum. The firm, which has an office in Hartford, is the structural engineer for two new Residential Colleges at Yale University, designed by Robert A. M. Stern.

Weidlinger Associates, Inc., is a 300-person structural engineering firm that designs and rehabilitates buildings, bridges, and infrastructure and provides special services in applied science, forensics, and physical security. For more than 60 years, the firm has been recognized worldwide for its innovative and practical design solutions and for its long-term commitment to advancing the state of the art in engineering. Headquartered in New York City, the firm has branch offices in the United States and the United Kingdom. For more information, please see www.wai.com.
Weidlinger Associates, Inc.
Lynn Trono, LAK Public Relations, Inc.