26/06/2014 Back to News
On Wednesday 25th June a number of members and friends went along to visit Drax power station near Selby, and the verdict on the tour was.....AWESOME! (Thank you Agent Barnaby Smith!)
The tour started with a safety briefing, and then onto the learning zone where explanations of how the plant actually worked, examples of the fuel used and the viewing of a model turbine were the subjects.

Everyone was then kitted out with PPE (personal protective equipment - hi vis, hard hats, goggles) and all loaded onto the plant coach - er not the personal trainer of the plants, but the bus.

Earphones were handed out which were not just to block out noise but so we could hear exactly what was being said via a radio link, and on to the very noisy pulverisers, these are huge steel tubes with giant steel balls loose inside pulverising coal and biofuel - the dreaded Miscanthus Grass - ask Dad (Alex Smith) about that one, it grows near Thirsk!

After the pulverisers, we viewed the boilers, which weigh 4000 tonnes each and expand approx 0.5m from cold, which means that all the fixings have to take that into account - so it is suspended from the ceiling. In each of the boilers there are approx 300 miles of steel tubing - enough to stretch from London to Newcastle.

Upstairs to the turbines - all six of them, spinning at 3000rpm from the steam produced by the boiler and which are all connected to the big electro magnet; strangely enough needing power to create power, and this electro magnet is spinning inside a huge copper cylinder.

The ash mounds were another huge problem but after landscaping and careful management this problem has been overcome by turning them in nature reserves open to the public, many grateful animals taking up residence including a large colony of badgers.

After this we went into the control centre where a multitude of alarms were constantly ringing, bedlam! We learnt how the power plant only supplied 7% of the UK's power needs yet is the largest plant in the UK, it is only 40% efficient, and how the plant itself took 5% of that amount to power itself. The biofuel is only used in two of the six furnaces at present at the supply of biofuel and food waste (nutshells etc) is not yet high enough to power all of them; it would take the complete United Kingdom growing Miscanthus Grass to power the entire station.

At the end of the visit, we were all given a 'wind up' torch, and Katie and I (the only kids on the tour) were given iPhone speakers too.

It was a really interesting visit and one not to miss if the opportunity arises.

Barnaby Smith
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