STORY Power Generation

50 degrees and no shade

Posted on May 12, 2014 by Yvonne Wirth, Images by MTU Detroit Diesel Australia

Gensets based on mtu engines provide a camp in the Australian outback with a reliable power supply.
Pilbara, Australia

Generator sets with  mtu Series 1600 engines  supply energy for a desert camp in Western Australia. They have to contend with heat, dust and floodwater – and have been doing so for nearly 7,000 hours.

To live out here you have to be tough. The heat is extreme in the summer, with temperatures often reaching as much as 50° Celsius. Added to that there is the fine desert dust that blows into every nook and cranny. And then there are the sudden cloudbursts when the rain buckets down and flash floods follow. The Pilbara region in Western Australia is visited by every imaginable extreme in weather terms. But it is exactly the environment where vast iron ore reserves are to be found. Rio Tinto Iron Ore is investing in extending the iron ore mines, rail and ports of Pilbara to expand production of iron ore to 353 million tonnes per year. The mined iron ore has to be transported to one of the two shipping ports up to 500 km away. To improve transport links, Rio Tinto aims to extend and improve the existing rail network, which covers some 1,500 km. The mine operator has contracted Calibre Rail to engineer and manage the improvements to the existing rail network. To provide accommodation for the people who work in that harsh environment, Calibre Rail is building a special camp called the Wildflower Camp. As part of the project, Calibre Rail commissioned MTU Detroit Diesel Australia to install a power plant to supply the camp with electricity. Located 130 km northwest of Newman in the shire of Ashburton, the camp will provide 120 expanding to 240 rooms for railworkers.

Of note, the Wildflower Camp owes its name to its position in the middle of a small meadow covered in native wildflowers. To provide a reliable supply of electricity to the camp, MTU Detroit Diesel Australia installed  three mtu Onsite Energy diesel generators  each producing 275 kVA of electrical output. The electricity is used to supply private rooms and communal amenities such as the canteen and meeting rooms, air-conditioning and lighting systems, as well as cooking facilities. The generators have been in use since April 2013 and have already clocked nearly 7,000 hours of successful service. To enable the mtu engines to function reliably in the arid desert conditions, each unit is fitted with special air filters and a protective enclosure to protect it from extreme weather conditions and to minimise noise outputs. The Type DP 275 D55 generators driven by  inline-6 Series 1600 engines  produce a combined output of 825 kVA. The Wildflower Camp is intended to provide a home for rail and mine workers for ten years. If the population of the camp increases, the power station can be extended to accommodate two more generators, which MTU Detroit Diesel Australia can deliver, install and interconnect to the switchboard without modifications.

Point of contact

Sebastian Huchler
+61 8 9273 7777