Biomass sector learns from lifeboat launch technology

Engineering company 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,” a spokesperson said. “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.

“Houlder referred to its long experience of installing lifeboats and other 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 supervised the construction and installation of the doors using local sub-contractors. The contract is an exciting new venture inland for Houlder’s structural engineers and a clear demonstration of exciting opportunities to innovate across the sustainable energy sector.

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