The Thermal Equipment and Services segment of Charlotte, N.C.-based SPX Corp. was awarded a $47 million contract to install a flue gas discharge system and other upgrades to enhance the existing natural draft cooling tower at Cardinal Station.

The coal-fired power plant, jointly owned by Buckeye Power and American Electric Power, is located in Brilliant, Ohio. Flue gas discharge technology enables better dispersion of the exhaust plume into the atmosphere, resulting in reduced local ground-level concentrations. Treated flue gases will be conveyed from the flue gas desulfurization (FGD) system into the cooling tower through one or two glass-fiber-reinforced plastic ducts and discharged into the atmosphere together with the cooling tower plume. According to SPX, this combination of flow allows for improved mixing and updraft into the atmosphere.

“Our flue gas discharge technology can help some new and existing coal-fired plants using natural draft cooling towers achieve enhanced cooling efficiencies,” said Drew Ladau, SPX segment president.  “And in some cases, it may even potentially reduce costs,” he added.

Built in the 1960s, Cardinal Station has three coal-fired units and generates a total of 1,830 MW of electricity.  Preliminary on-site work on the cooling system retrofit began in late 2009. The final flue gas discharge system installation is expected to be completed in 2012 during the commissioning of a new FGD system (scrubber) that Cardinal Station has said that it expects will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 98 percent.

The principle of discharging flue gases via the cooling tower is not limited to new natural draft cooling towers. Existing cooling towers can also be retrofitted with the technology. Many cooling towers in Europe have been retrofitted with similar flue gas discharge systems to meet environmental regulations.

The first flue gas discharge system was completed in Europe at the Volklingen MKV power station in Volklingen, Germany in 1981.  Since then, more than 25 similar systems have been installed in Europe. There are currently more than 55 natural draft cooling towers at coal-fired plants in the United States.