Summer Intern 2007 Report

by Rochelle Green 3rd Year Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Imperial College London

In summer 2007, I was given the opportunity to participate in a 12-week BIAPWS Award research project with Thames Power Services at Barking Power Station in Dagenham, Essex. Through this project I was able to gain valuable experience of working on a 'real-world' problem within the power industry, an industry which previously I had limited knowledge of. My time at Barking enabled me to learn a significant amount about the systems, processes and environmental considerations involved in power generation. It also allowed me to appreciate the importance of water and steam system chemistry control in enabling these plants to operate successfully. Following its completion I am now pursuing a career within the power industry. I would thoroughly recommend the BIAPWS Award to any undergraduate student doing a science or engineering degree and seeking industrial experience.

The Project

Barking Power Station is a combined cycle power station. Corrosion control issues had previously been experienced within Barking Power Station's closed circuit cooling water systems. These systems are used to supply cooling water to the power station's auxiliary equipment. Past application of chemical biocides to the system had subsequently led to serious corrosion related problems within the system coolers. I was asked to investigate the past issues involving corrosion and fouling in the closed circuit cooling water systems and look at possible methods of preventing their reoccurrence.

Through extensive research on the system, operation methods, corrosion and prevention techniques I was able to carry out an analysis of the corrosion problems and issues experienced. I was also able to make feasible recommendations for the station's existing system and propose design improvements for a future development. I compiled a project report and presented my findings and recommendation to the station managers, engineers and chemists. I also made a second presentation to the BIAPWS committee.

My Experience

The scale and complexity of power generation systems was initially quite daunting. However, I benefited from close supervision and also support from my colleagues. Their knowledge and guidance allowed me to gain better understanding of the system processes and to rapidly obtain the resources I required to complete the project.

I consider this project an achievement from which I have benefited a great deal. Not only did I gain confidence in my ability to apply the analytical skills gained on my course to a real problem but I also managed to substantially improve my technical communication and presentation skills. I feel this project has opened a window for me into career opportunities within the power generation industry.