Infrared cameras to ensure safety at Lithuania's first waste-to-energy plant

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After it starts operating at full capacity in Klaipėda this week, the first waste-to-energy plant in the Baltic States will generate heat and electric power from the incineration of waste and biofuel. Fire prevention at the plant has been ensured by the latest in advanced technology – infrared, heat-detecting video cameras.

It is the first time that thermal imaging cameras have been used to guarantee fire safety in Lithuania according to the specialists from intelligent engineering solutions company FIMA, which was responsible for installing the system at the Fortum Klaipėda plant.

The thermographic surveillance system has been installed in the fuel bunker – the section of the plant which is at a higher risk of spontaneous ignition. This is where a thick layer of biofuel and waste is stored before entering the incineration process.

“The cameras constantly scan the surface of biofuel and waste, displaying a thermal image to the system operator with the hottest areas and their temperatures displayed on a screen. Once the system has detected a high temperature, it automatically alerts the staff with an audio signal, and if the temperature continues to rise, triggers the fire alarm. The image displayed on screen allows for the exact source of the ignition to be located and for staff to take appropriate action to bring the temperature down quickly. The steps that can be taken include stirring the waste at the site of ignition or using remotely controlled jets of water,” said Fima’s project manager, Ričardas Raudys.

A fire alarm system that offers the ultimate in reliability has been installed in other parts of the plant and can detect indoor temperature changes, smoke and naked flames. In the case of fire, the system will control the fire extinguishing, evacuation and ventilation systems it is integrated with.

The operational security of the Fortum Klaipėda plant will also be ensured by an advanced access control and video surveillance system.

In addition to providing site security, the video surveillance system is used to control the technological processes within the plant. Operators are able to monitor the entry of vehicles bringing biofuel and waste in to the site on displays in the control centre and are able to control the weighing and waste unloading processes. Cameras also provide staff with the opportunity to monitor the entire journey of fuel through the plant from it entering the fuel bunker through to the final emptying of cinder from the boiler. The cameras even show the interior of the boiler.

According to director of UAB Fortum Klaipėda, Juozas Doniela, every type of security is a high priority at the plant. “The security of the most technologically up-to-date power plant operating in the Baltic States is ensured at every stage of the waste’s transformation into energy: from when waste gets to the site through to smoke treatment. The fire prevention system installed by Fima specialists is a reliable part of the plant’s overall security system,” said Mr Doniela.

Situated in the Klaipėda free economic zone, the new power plant is expected to generate about 40 per cent of the port city’s annual needs (400 GWh) and about 120 GWh of electric power. Some 50 per cent of fuel combusted at Fortum Klaipėda will be domestic refuse brought from Klaipėda region landfill sites, 20 per cent will be industrial waste and the rest biofuel.

Using waste to generate energy is an advanced and environmentally-friendly way to dispose of rubbish and solves many issues including landfill problems, energy dependence and high energy prices. There are more than 400 of these types of power plant operating in Europe.

The formal opening of Fortum Klaipėda – the Baltic’s first waste-to-energy co-generation power plant – is scheduled for May 15th.