Fuel for prosperity

by Keith Laycock, Kuntz Electroplating, Inc., Kitchener, Ontario and Mike Savel, Toromont Power Systems, Concord, Ontario

From the late 1980s to the early 1990s, Kuntz Electroplating Inc. saw its electricity costs rising rapidly. The company also experienced as many as 15 utility power outages per year, typically lasting only seconds, yet causing major process disruptions.

Today, the company, based in Kitchener, Ontario, enjoys more reliable power and lower utility costs with a natural gas fueled cogeneration system. Five heat recovery-equipped G3516 engine-driven generator sets from Caterpillar with a combined 4 MW capacity operate around the clock, providing electricity for 56 000 m3 of production space and process heat for parts-cleaning and electroplating tanks.

The heat recovery system, capturing heat from the engine exhaust and jacket water/oil cooler circuits, helps satisfy a plant heat load of 18 million Btu/hr (5.3 MW/hr). Kuntz installed three Cat G3516 units in 1997, then one each in 1999 and 2000. The company projects simple payback on each unit at about six years, based on savings on electricity and steam.

Kuntz Electroplating operates North America’s largest and most diverse polishing and plating facilities for original equipment manufacturers of steel and aluminum wheels, bumpers and other motor vehicle components. The Kuntz facility and its parts cleaning and ion-exchange plating processes create a continuous 6.5 MW electric power demand. The plant operates six days per week for two 12-hour shifts.


Kuntz Electroplating operates North America’s largest and most diverse polishing and plating facilities for manufacturers of steel and aluminum wheels, bumpers and other motor vehicle components
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Beginning in the late 1980s, the local electric utility, Kitchener Wilmot Hydro, began raising its rates by up to 10 per cent per year. When those increases continued into the early 1990s, Kuntz became concerned about future power supply costs. Also, Kuntz was expanding and was about to be classified as a ‘large user’, which would have increased rates further.

Kuntz also sought a solution to frequent, seasonal utility power outages that caused downtime in production processes at costs from C$10 000 to C$15 000 ($7000-11 000) per hour. Utility service was generally reliable, but each year Kuntz experienced several brief outages that occurred when transmission lines touched during wind storms or when birds nested in substations.

Such events caused power interruptions lasting several seconds, long enough to stop electroplating production for as much as one hour. The outages interrupted the filtering of plating solutions. After each outage, solution pumps had to be restarted and effective filtration re-established before plating could resume.


Payback is projected at six years as utility rates have remained level since 1994 and gas prices have increased more rapidly than projected
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Power quality was another concern. While the utility generally delivered quality power, Kuntz experienced voltage spikes when nearby businesses turned on arc welders, arc furnaces or large electric motors. The changes in voltage damaged solid-state controls in rectifiers – sometimes as often as once per week. Repairs typically cost C$3000 per occurrence and shut down the electroplating line for 45 minutes.

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For all these reasons, Kuntz began investigating on-site power generating systems. It compared generating technologies under a range of return on investment (ROI) scenarios with different forecasts for natural gas prices and utility electric rates. After that analysis, the company selected the Cat G3516 generator sets, primarily for the availability of high temperature solid water, ebullient cooling systems able to produce low pressure (1.03 bar) steam for process heating.

In the solid water, ebullient cooling systems, engine jacket water circulates under pressure at 130°C, and engine cooling is accomplished by using the heat of vaporization. The hot engine jacket water is flashed to steam by releasing the pressure from the water in the heat recovery vessel. This form of heat recovery is simple and inexpensive, as it eliminates the radiator and allows recovery of virtually all engine heat rejected to the jacket water. Steam produced in the heat recovery system is recovered as condensate, treated and reused to cool the engine.

The Cat G3516 generator sets are driven by 16-cylinder lean-burn, electronically controlled natural gas engines. The units are well suited for extended-duty distributed generation service in island mode or grid parallel operations. They are capable of over 80 per cent mechanical efficiency with heat recovery at the 130°C jacket water rating. NOx emissions are rated at less than 2.0 g/bhp-hr. Each unit, factory rated at 815 kW, includes a Cat SR4 brushless generator.

At Kuntz Electroplating, the G3516 generator sets together produce continuous 13 800 V, three-phase power in parallel with the utility grid. When operating at rated load, the units carry roughly 65 per cent of total plant electric load. Installation of the generator sets, heat recovery equipment, switchgear and controls cost C$1225 per kW. The cost of generated electricity is approximately C$0.0475/kWh, variable with fuel price.

The generator sets are configured to ensure process continuity regardless of events on the utility grid. In case of utility power interruption, the control switchgear is configured so that non-critical plant loads are shed while the generator sets operate the critical process loads in an island mode. When utility power is restored, the generator sets automatically resynchronize with the grid and the utility breaker closes.

The generator sets run around the clock on production days. During times when electricity generated exceeds plant load, generators sets are shut down in sequence.

Kuntz operates the cogeneration system under a turnkey five-year contract with Toromont Power Systems, the Caterpillar dealer based in Concord, Ontario. Under its Customer Service Agreement, Toromont stocks recommended replacement components and provides all scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and top-end and in-frame overhauls, at a cost based on kW hours produced.

The cogeneration system has met Kuntz’s financial and reliability expectations. The company originally projected 5 to 5.5 years simple payback on the system, based on assumptions on fuel and electricity price increases. Actual payback is now projected at 6 years, as utility rates have remained level since 1994 and gas prices have increased more rapidly than projected. The payback calculations do not include the economic benefits of eliminating process downtime caused by power outages and power quality concerns.

The generator sets have achieved 98 to 99 per cent reliability. The engines on the original three units have recorded 43 000 operating hours each, yet have required only one top-end overhaul per unit and no major overhauls.

Gensets power five star service

Beirut’s five-star luxury Movenpick Hotel has found the answer to the city’s unsteady mains electricity supply by installing a high-grade backup power system consisting of six new diesel generator sets.

The hotel, which is at the forefront of the country’s initiative to rebuild the tourism industry following the 16-year civil war, engaged Cummins Power Generation’s Lebanese distributor, Overseas Consultants, to carry out the installation.


The Movenpick hotel in Beirut overlooks a private bay and boasts two swimming pools and a fantastic marina
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Boasting 293 rooms, 72 chalets, 1000 cabins, five restaurants and an Olympic-sized swimming pool, the hotel needed a considerable back-up power system to meet its needs. Overseas Consultants therefore installed six generators rated at 1005 kW, powered by Cummins K50 engines. The new gensets are dual functional, providing standby power as a back up for unreliable utility supply and peak lopping to minimize tariff payments.

Due to the hotel’s location and its function, the installation was noise and pollution critical. Overseas Consultants therefore installed noise absorbent material lining the inside walls and ceiling of the power plant room. Two in-line mufflers were also embedded on the pipework of each engine.

Wärtsilä makes its mark

Wärtsilä has exceeded the 1000 MW mark for supplying power plants to Turkey, following an order in April for the Aksa heavy fuel oil power plant.

Wärtsilä has developed a strong profile in the country over the past ten years, achieving more than 60 per cent of the energy market share based on engine-driven power generation technologies.


Wartsila delivered two 18V46 engines to Turkey in May 2003
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The Aksa plant is owned by Aksa Enerji Uretim, and is part of the Aksa Group which belongs to Kazanci Holding. Wärtsilä delivered two 18V46 engines with a combined capacity of 34 MWe at the end of May. Plant operation is scheduled to begin in the autumn. Electricity generated at the plant will be fed to the national grid, using three outgoing power lines.

Aksa operates nearly 30 Wärtsilä engines, so spare parts and service logistics are already well established at the site.

The plant is located in north Cyprus on the east coast, close to the port of Magosa. Due to its proximity to the shore, it has to optimise its environmental solutions – including waste treatment handling – to avoid pollution. Wärtsilä’s reputation for providing environmentally friendly technology was one of the factors leading to Aska’s choice, as well as the company’s long-term relationship with the company and the region.

The best things come in small packages

Generating set manufacturer FG Wilson has introduced two innovative new product ranges to its product portfolio, purpose built for the needs of the small business and domestic markets.

The gensets, providing power outputs from 5.5 to 35 kVA, are ideal for use in retail outlets, business units, restaurants, petrol stations, agricultural establishments and domestic properties.


The new range is purpose built for the needs of the small user markets
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Kubota engines power the sets from 5.5-12 kVA, while the sets rated from 12.5-35 kVA are powered by Perkins 400 Series engines. The gensets can be ordered for use as either prime or standby power, and there is also the option of having either open or canopied units.

The new generating sets are ideal for use in built up areas, providing environmental benefits such as low noise levels and emissions compliance with Euro II level/EPA2005, says Ian McClay, product definition manager at FG Wilson.

“These new products demonstrate our commitment to innovation, product development and the environment. They have been designed with ease of use as a top priority, and include items such as auto start panels, removable doors and single point lifts to make it easy for the end user to operate the sets”, said McClay.

Car shows drive rentals for GE

GE Energy Rentals has signed contracts with Event Solutions International (ESI) to supply power for the Audi 8 Auto Show and the GM Auto Show in Motion this summer. The Audi 8 Show is a three-city promotional show for Audi and the GM Auto Show in Motion is a 19-city weekend Ride and Drive show for General Motors (GM).

GE Energy Rentals will provide temperature control for tents, generator power and distribution for the temperature control, as well as ancillary needs for the Audi shows in Los Angeles, California and one in New York.

The GM Auto Show in Motion is travelling to 19 major cities in the US. Attendance at each venue ranges from 8000 to 10 000 people. The shows feature at least one of every car in GM’s product offering for consumer trial. Competitive models are also available for comparison drives. “ESI’s confidence in our services is clearly illustrated by these contracts,” said Luis Ramirez, president of GE Energy Rentals. “Events like this place a premium on executing well and we have great confidence in our ability to deliver.”

The GM compound includes a 12 m by 24 m registration tent, a 15 m by 37 m catering tent, concept car tents, and restroom trailers. GE Energy Rentals will provide generator power and distribution for the entire GM compound, as well as air conditioning for the catering and registration tents. The majority of the power will be used for the AC equipment which includes one 176 kW sound attenuated generator, one 100 kW sound attenuated generator, seven 20 t vertical ‘event’ air conditioners, cable, distribution panels and cable ramps.