Cleanliness and Tidiness

Everyone who lives in a city finds themselves surrounded by a variety of scents: hot pavement on a summer day, subway, ports, parks, narrow streets and wide noisy highways. We feel how railway stations, station halls, warehouses and industrial sites with high fences smell.

However, as architectural historians and urbanists say, a city changes its scent, and now we observe a tendency for cleanliness.

One of the largest industrial enterprises of the "capital of the Arctic Circle" — Murmanskaya CHPP — has been providing heat and electricity to almost every resident for 80 years now. When in the early 20th century with the GOELRO plan being implemented and the energy industry workers figuring out how to supply heat and bring light to each house, in the 21st century it is time to think about cleanliness too.

The Fuel Oil Story

Power plants may run on coal, fuel oil and gas. The technological feature of Murmanskaya CHPP is its operation on fuel oil.

What Do We Know about Fuel Oil? Under normal conditions, fuel oil is jelly-like in consistency and solidifies if frozen. Fuel is delivered to plants in railway tanks, and it is not so easy to pour it off, especially in winter. Until recently, the energy industry workers utilised an open fuel oil drain system so-called “defrosting”, and further cleaning of fuel oil tanks with steam or “steam treatment”. That's when a specific odour appeared, which could be felt in Murmansk along with the scent of “the cold sea and solemn fishing”.

Implementing the Closed Fuel Oil Drain Technology

In 2017, Murmanskaya CHPP and TGC-1 concluded an Environmental Agreement on Implementation of Projects Related to Murmansk Environmental Protection with the Government of Murmansk Oblast. One of its clauses specified the implementation of a closed oil fuel drain system, and, as a result, reducing the specific scent of black fuel.

The energy industry workers have worked for two years on the new fuel utilisation and treatment procedure from scratch on Centralnaya CHPP and the South Boiler Facility of Murmanskaya CHPP. This technology not only helps to avoid the odour, but also provides for high performance due to low heat loss.

Before, the tank's body and fuel had to be heated with steam which required major heat consumption. After that, the tank's valve was opened, and fuel oil was gravity fed to the storage vessel. Mercaptan escaped into the environment as the result of steam and air reaction, and the steam watered the fuel reducing its quality.

The steps of the new procedure differ:

1. The initial vessel is filled with a small amount of hot fuel oil.

3. Inside the tank, the oil product heats the main bulk of fuel layer by layer.

2. The heated fuel oil is fed from the vessel to the tank through pipelines.

4. When the fuel oil reaches its flow point, it is drained to the storage facility in a leakproof way.

Due to the closed draining and automation of the process, the working environment of staff is improved, and the procedure complies with the most recent fire safety requirements. Railway workers are also pleased, as tanks are cleaned much better.

However, this technology has its own restrictions. The closed drain cannot be used at low negative temperatures, as dilution of cold fuel takes too long. To ensure reliable operation of energy facilities, a compromise was reached: Draining jetties were re-equipped partially.

Thus, 10 out of 20 lines of the South Boiler Facility were re-equipped with the new technology, while 6 out of 13 operating draining jetties were re-equipped on Centralnaya CHPP. This solution allows the plant to operate during severe frosts of the north.

Construction of Water Treatment Facilities

In 2015, the energy industry workers of Murmanskaya CHPP launched a projects for renovation of water treatment facilities of East and South Boiler Facilities, as well as Centralnaya CHPP. The industrial wastewater contains liquids produced after various washings and used in technological processes.

A complex of water treatment facilities provides for a multi-staged procedure of settling-out, chemical treatment, residue de-watering, fine screening, heavy metal absorption and cleaning with the help of carbon filters, fine oil product and organic compound cleaning, chlorine removal and disinfection. The reverse osmosis technology is used to remove salts: Water passes through a semi-permeable membrane under pressure, and the membrane lets it through without dissolved particles.

This complicated and multi-staged filtration allows a company to reduce its ecological footprint on the water area of the Kola Bay (South Boiler Facility), the Rosta River (East Boiler Facility) and the Varnichny Stream (Centralnaya CHPP). When treated, industrial and rain wastewater comply with the standards and produce a minimal impact on natural water bodies.

A True Change for the Best

The significance of the project is underlined by the attention of the regional leaders. On 24 July 2019, the Acting Governor of Murmansk Oblast Andrey Chibis and the General Director of TGC-1 Alexey Barvinok visited Murmanskaya CHPP. Workers demonstrated how the closed fuel oil drain system of Centralnaya CHPP and the industrial wastewater treatment complex work.

"Today, all three sources of heat supply of Murmanskaya CHPP are equipped with modern water treatment facilities. The system of closed fuel oil drain introduced at the enterprise plays an important role in improving the quality of life of the locals," Alexey Barvinok, General Director of TGC-1, commented.

The next step to a comfortable and sustainable city will be transferring to a new fuel type: Heavy fuel oil can be replaced by the cleanest fossil hydrocarbon, i.e. natural gas.

The Acting Governor of Murmansk Oblast Andrey Chibis told the news, that the region generally consumes 1 million tonnes of fuel oil per year, and it is necessary to reduce utilisation of this fuel with its rising price, so that to transfer the region's largest boiler facilities from fuel oil and to reduce fuel oil consumption by at least 67% within the next five years.