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'Chiller Pack' Boosts Power Production Near Najaf

By Mitch Frazier
National Guard Bureau

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 7, 2004 – Beads of sweat drip from the foreheads of Iraqi laborers finishing a power plant upgrade north of Najaf. In the wake of war and in 115-degee heat, the team installs a new radiator on a generator air intake. It's an installation that increases electricity output of the machine by more than 15 percent by cooling the hot, dry desert air.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
A new chiller unit like this one at Bayji, Iraq, came online Sept. 6 at a power plant north of Najaf, helping to bring electricity to more Iraqi households. Courtesy photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The radiator, known as a "chiller pack" to the electrically savvy, came online Sept. 6 at the south central Iraq power plant, boosting electricity production from the generator to 24 megawatts, enough to service 72,000 Iraqi homes.

The gain is one of many logged over the past 18 months that have boosted electricity production here to more than 5,300 megawatts, enough to service 27 million more Iraqi homes than were fueled under the former regime.

The chiller pack operates much like an automobile radiator, pulling hot desert air through water-cooled coils to create a cooler, denser air-fuel mixture. The mixture is then drawn into the turbine, where it is further compressed before it is combusted.

"If you have clean cool air, clean water and clean fuel, you can increase the efficiency of a turbine generator significantly," said Maj. Erik Stor, the operations officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Restore Iraqi Electricity Directorate. "This chiller pack gives us that nice dense air we need to generate more electricity for the Iraqi people."

The chiller pack is one of few operational across the country. Similar units proved themselves this summer under the searing desert heat in Bayji as temperatures there soared past 135 degrees. The benefit fueled the decision to add similar units to four new generators at a Baghdad power station that will be online later this year.

"It is all about efficiency and increasing the production of these units," Stor said. "These chiller packs can cool the incoming air up to 15 to 20 degrees, and while that may not seem like a lot, it is when you think about the thousands of more houses that can have electricity because of the increased electricity production."

(Mitch Frazier is deputy chief of public affairs, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division, Baghdad, Iraq.)

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Related Sites:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division

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Progress Continues in Restoring Iraqi Electricity

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