The ECLUSE project, one year on: work progressing steadily

A year after the first pipe was laid in the ECLUSE network, work on this large-scale steam network in the Waasland Port has already progressed significantly. On 24 January 2018 ECLUSE invited its stakeholders for a visit to several of the site project sites. The heat network was named ‘ECLUSE’ – French for ‘sluice’ – because the steam will be sluiced from the Indaver and SLECO waste-to-energy plant to steam consumers in the port.

This ambitious, super-strategic project will make the energy supply in the Waasland Port more sustainable. Companies using ECLUSE steam can switch off their own individual fossil fuel based boilers. This means that with this heat network climate targets will also be given a serious boost. If we add up the CO2 emissions from all those installations, this represents an annual reduction of 100,000 tonnes of CO2. This is comparable to the CO2 saving achieved by installing 50 standard 2.3 MW wind turbines. Other emissions such as those from nitrogen oxide and particulate matter will also decrease.  At a stroke, the Waasland Port will become a lot ‘greener’.

Information about the three project zones

On the Indaver/SLECO site we visited the condensate building and at DP World we were given an explanation of the underground works. Lastly, we made a stop at Geslecht, where a pipe bridge crosses the public road and the railway above ground. The engineers and safety coordinator from the ECLUSE team gave a full explanation at each of the sites. They monitor the Dutch contractor, AHP, on a daily basis, and make adjustments where necessary. The contractor’s project managers were also present.  The visitors were given plenty of opportunity to ask questions. For those who could not be there, here is a short summary of what we were shown and told.

Stop 1: condensate building

At Indaver/SLECO we visited the condensate building. The Indaver and SLECO installations treat around 1 million tons of waste annually. The total thermal capacity of the installations is 250 MW. The transport network works in a closed system consisting of two parallel pipes running along the whole section: one for the steam supply (approx. 40 bar and 400°C) and one for condensate return (approx. 25 bar and 130°C). The returning condensate is collected in a 50 m³ tank at low pressure and temperature. This condensate tank forms a buffer against fluctuations in flow and temperature in the ECLUSE network. From here, the condensate is pumped back into the existing Indaver/SLECO system.

Stop 2: underground pipes at DP World

Next, we visited the DP World site, where were shown a section of the underground pipe network.  Around 20% of the ECLUSE network's total length of 5 kilometres is underground.  The longest underground passages are on the Ineos and DP World sites (approx. 600 metres and 200 metres respectively). The underground works are expected to be completed some time in February. The ECLUSE network also features seven underground junctions; these were laid in recent months. For the condensate pipe, a ‘connected pipe system’ (CPS) was chosen, comprising a steel tube, PUR insulation and an HDPE coating. A steel-in-steel (SIS) system is being used for the steam pipe: the inner pipe feeds the steam, while the outer pipe, coated with HDPE, acts as a protective sleeve.  The space in between is filled with rockwool, before being vacuumed to limit heat loss. The inside and outside are only connected to each other at the fixed points in the system. The inner pipe has roller bearings, which allow it to move freely lengthways, to cope with thermal expansion. Four underground expansion loops have also been fitted along the entire underground section.

Stop 3: Geslecht pipe bridge

The pipe bridge over the Geslecht was the last stop on the visit. The network has 15 pipe bridges in total. The longest is on the Geslecht and also crosses several railway tracks.  It comprises three sections, is 50 metres long and 12 metres high.  First, all pipes, supports and insulation were assembled on the surface, on the girders of the bridge. After erection of the vertical pillars, the girders, including all installation parts, were hoisted into place as a single unit. Part 1 of the bridge was installed on 18 November 2017, over the railway lines. In consultation with Infrabel, the infrastructure manager for Belgian railways, the tracks were temporarily taken out of service so that the structure could be installed. Because there are high voltage lines on both sides of the track, the safety regulations of Elia, the high voltage network administrator, also had to be strictly complied with. 

The second part of the bridge, over the public road, was installed on 19 January 2018. The preparatory works only caused minimal disruption to through traffic, although the road was closed for 20 minutes during the actual hoisting, in consultation with the highways authority. Access for the emergency services was guaranteed throughout.

Follow the progress of the works

Anyone wishing to monitor the progress of the works can visit the ECLUSE website: http://www.ecluse.be/en/construction-site/progress/ where you will also be able to view photos of the various phases of the project.

For more information watch the following videos:

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