Coal plant helps keep Cherry Point warm at night

Published: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 10:46 PM.

Utilities Director Alvin Fonville said the coal costs $142 per ton, with the plant spending about $3.8 million for coal each year.

The coal comes in chunks ranging in size from about a half inch to 1 1/2 inches. The plant burns 90 percent of the coal, leaving about 10 percent in fine gray ash, which is taken and dumped at the Craven County landfill located in Tuscarora.

Filzen said the plant of today is considerably more efficient than when it opened in 1943 and is even better than when he arrived in 1995.

He said the plant invested money in its condensate return system, which is the water that returns to the plant after the steam has lost much of its heat. The steam leaves the plant at 449 degrees and returns as water at about 130 degrees.

Filzen said in 1995 that about five percent of condensate was returned to the plant, but that is now at 60 to 65 percent.

“What it means is you’re returning back water that’s 100 and something degrees that you turn back into steam, so it takes less energy to turn it back into steam,” he said. “It’s also got the impurities removed so it’s less chemicals, so you are saving a lot of money the more condensate that you can get.

“Steam leaves the building. It gets wherever it’s going. Typically it goes through a heat exchanger, whether it’s going for hot water in the barracks, or going to the mess hall or going to the depot. As the process removes the heat from the steam, it condenses back into water, then it comes back to the plant. A pound of water, a pound of steam.”

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