Category Archives: Community

Engineer’s Week

Happy Engineer’s Week!

As the 60’th Celebration of Engineer’s Week comes to a close (official Engineer’s Week is February 20-26, 2011, according to the National Engineers Week Foundation [NEWF]), I was reminded this morning that Engineer’s Week is about more than just recognizing a slice of industry.  It’s about celebrating what engineers do for others.  The front page at the NEWF web site is covered with awards to engineers from various groups (NASA, National Academy of Engineers, etc.) that recognize individual engineers “whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society”.  Engineer’s Week is about reaching out and encouraging more people to get involved, and to be part of the solutions to the problems we face.  Engineers don’t just sit on the sidelines and wait for someone else to ‘take care of things’ – they are actively involved in making the world a better place.

You don’t have to dig very deep on the NEWF website to find ways to participate.  Their “get involved” page lists 50 different examples and recommendations for reaching out to others, helping to solve the worlds problems and encouraging younger people to get interested in science and engineering.  There are links to volunteer opportunities with organization such as Engineers Without Borders, Mathcounts, and local schools and science centers.   It’s worth a look.

And don’t let something like an engineering degree stop you from participating.  I know many, many people who do more engineering than I do who don’t have that piece of paper.  Engineering is more a process for solving problems than anything else.  For me, it’s about helping others to be more efficient – more efficient equipment, more efficient data collection, more efficient reporting systems.  Getting more done with less effort.  Maybe I’m just lazy at heart… but my pursuit of leisure time sure keeps me busy!

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Power Plant Forum

I’ve been tossing around the idea of starting a forum for discussing power plant performance issues… so I ‘Googled’ “Power Plant Forum”… and whaddya know – there IS one!

I just signed up – looks like there are more than 16,000 members.
I haven’t browsed around too much yet, but I’m hoping I can add some value there and connect with some new power plant professionals.

Any one here a member?

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ASME Power 2010 – Keynote

Greetings from the ASME Power 2010 Conference in Chicago.

A quick overview of the keynote speech:

Ed Tirello once again lit up the audience with great commentary on the status of the industry. He talked about a number of things, including what all the keynote speakers seemed to agree with: the lack of a US Energy Policy is hampering the ability of the industry to move forward. And while he did state outright that he’s “not an engineer” and tended to “make things up” (which garnered many smiles from the audience), his views bring some insights into the issues which our industry will be facing in the near future.

Richard Knoebel spoke next, providing some numbers to the CO2 sequestration issue – including some potential costs of adding carbon capture & sequestration (CCS) to new coal and gas power plants (noting in some cases it will double the capital costs of installing new generation assets).

Stephen Kuczynski stepped up next to speak of his company’s experiences with operating nuclear facilities – and some of the steps they’re taking to keep their fleet operating safely and reliably. One item I noted – was their program of promoting “assertive engineering”. In other words, if an engineer sees something that needs fixing – he/she should not let politics or the companies quarterly stock price get in the way of seeing that it gets fixed, and fixed correctly.

In light of the BP disaster, I can only imagine how many engineers were told to be quiet in light of the costs and schedule delays which would have occurred in order to do things right. In the case of nuclear power, where there have been accidents in the past, engineers – and others – are encouraged to take personal responsibility for the equipment around them, to make sure avoidable accidents don’t happen in the future. I encourage us all to apply that same confidence and assertiveness to all our projects.

The final speaker was Gregory Snyder, who covered some of the future-thinking options of integrating renewable energy and electric cars into the grid.

All the speakers provided great information that is of great interest to the industry. Thank you to ASME for bringing this group together and providing a venue for their presentations.

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ASME Power 2010 Conference

The ASME Power 2010 Conference is coming up next week (July 13-15, 2010).

I’ll be going early to take the steam turbine performance class on Monday (7/12/10), presented by Gary Golden (EPRI), James Wieters (SCANA) Dr. Simon Hogg (Durham University) and Robert Scott (Alstom). It got rave reviews last year, so I’m really looking forward to attending.

I’ll also be presenting a paper this year:

    An Experience with PTC 70 – Ramp Rates

The presentation is in Session 13-4 (Performance Test and Performance Monitoring Techniques) on Wednesday afternoon, July 14, 2010. I hope to see you there.

If you’d like a copy of the final paper and/or the presentation slides, drop me a note ( I’ll get them posted here after the conference, as well.

If you have any experiences with determining ramp rates for your facilities that you’d like to share – I’d love to hear from you.

    How do you determine your ramp rates?

Do you run a dedicated test to collect data, or do you use ‘normal’ operating data as the basis?

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GHG Impact of Electric Cars

An interesting article on electric cars and net greenhouse gas emissions (during operation) can be found at

What I don’t see them taking into consideration, is the manufacturing costs of the car. So, as long as you’re comparing the gas-only new car versus an electric version you’re OK. But, I think you’re still better off just running your existing car for another 100k miles, even if it gets pretty poor gas mileage.

The article includes some interesting charts on the regions mix of power generation across the US. I was surprised to see that TVA’s Hydro production does not have an appreciable impact on the SE generation mix. Here in Washington, BPA’s hydro is still the main source of electricity in the region.

Another note of interest was the amount of power still generated with oil in New York and Florida.

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Conservation or Green Generation

There’s a heated debate occuring in a LinkedIn discussion – about where our investment dollars should go – Should they go to Conservation programs or new Clean Generation?

The whole discussion can be found here.

One very interesting item which was shared today – was a press release about a pilot test program by PG&E which installed SmartAC thermostats at 2,000 residences. Results showed that the utility could shave approximately 0.65 kW of load for each residence. Not much you say? When you consider they have 135,000 potential participants in the plan… that can add up to nearly 88 MW of peak load shaved – allowing the utility to avoid construction of new peaking power plants – which sit idle most of the year in anticipation of the next heat wave.

The article shared can be found here.

More about the SmartAC program from PG&E can be found here.

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PowerGen International 2009

Two Weeks to PowerGen 2009 in Las Vegas, NV USA.

I’ll be there!

If you’re also going to be there, and would like to meet for lunch or around the exhibit hall or sessions, drop me a note or voicemail (see the T2E3 website for contact info). I haven’t lined up which sessions I’ll be attending yet – pending getting the full conference agenda – but you can bet if there are papers dealing with finding efficiency improvements, I’ll be there.

If you have any recommendations on vendors to visit in the exhibit hall – I’d be interested in hearing what those might be as well. The exhibit hall is HUGE, so I try and map out a plan for my “must see” vendors in advance.

I hope to see you there!
Until then – I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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WTUI 2009 Recap

Can you believe it’s the end of the first quarter of 2009 already?
I must be having too much fun (again), because time has really been flying.

It’s already been two and a half weeks since the end of the WTUI conference. Once again, it was a great conference. Attendance did not look to be down due to the economy – which I took as a good sign.

There was increased interest in the LMS100 – with enough people to create their own break-out group for more detailed discussions. This year’s discussions revolved mostly around construction and startup issues, but with the increasing numbers of operating units and operating hours, next year’s issues could be very interesting indeed.

The exhibit hall seemed to have grown by at least 30% – but I think most of that was in floor space. The hallways were very large, which made the numbers of people wandering through look more sparse. And, while it appeared to be slow in the hall (at least from an exhibitor’s perspective), I was able to collect just as many new contacts this year as in years past – so “THANK YOU” to everyone who stopped by to chat.

The evening entertainment was, once again, superb. On vendor night, there were three great hospitality events to attend:

* IHI hosted a Sake & Sushi gathering at a local restaurant, and I was surprised at the number of people who wanted to partake of raw fish in the California desert. It was a fun evening, including a traditional Sake barrel opening ceremony.

* Air New Zealand (ANZ) kept their hospitality suite on site and cozy. The roast lamb with mango jelly was nearly as superb as the company. Those Kiwis are some fun people!

* Aviation Power & Marine (AP&M) once again had the late night concert venue. This year’s group: The Guess Who. There were two original members present – the bass player and the drummer. The rest sure looked and sounded the part! Great fun, food and lots of Guinness (it was St. Patrick’s Day, after all).

I shouldn’t forget to mention golf and tennis. Once again the golf event was the larger of the two (try ~400 participants versus 11…). But I think the tennis players have more fun. For one, the golf tournament was on a course that must have been under the local wind turbines – from what I heard, the course was positioned to catch all the largest gusts going through the valley. The tennis tournament, on the other hand, was within walking distance to the hotel, in 75 degree sunshine. Beverages provided. What a great way to get to know your fellow gas turbine professionals. WTUI posted a picture of all the “tennis pros” at the event.

If you missed this year’s WTUI – be sure to check back here, or at their website:, so you don’t miss the next one. It will probably take place in March or early April 2010. Next year’s location has not been announced yet, but it’s always somewhere with lots of sunshine in the US Southwest. Hope to see you there – if not before!

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Power Planters

A contact from LinkedIn recommended a new site for people working at Power Plants…

I thought I would share the site here with you as well. It is a network site, like LinkedIn or FaceBook, with a twist: Members can join different power plants. You can search through the power plants already listed on the site, or add new ones – and join any that you have worked at in the past.

There are also overview groups for coal plants, gas plants, nuclear plants and more.
They currently have over 400 members all over the globe.

In today’s world where we all have more to do than time exists in a day, this may be one more stop you don’t have time to make… but, then again, if you can find someone to help with an issue quickly, because in two clicks you can find someone who works at a site with similar equipment to yours – this just might be a time saver in the long run.

I’ve joined, and setup my profile on PowerPlanters. I hope you join me.

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