Comments: 576 • Responses: 59  • Date: 

falsehood132 karma

What's your worst "oh shit" scenario that is actually plausible (understanding that there are many checks in place tha twould have to fail to make that happen)?

nugoo201 karma

An 80m high boiler exploding and taking out 200 people. Big steam bomb.

EDIT: Just to add we once had a truck size clinker drop from top of said boiler and had to bring explosive contractors in to blow it out. For those who don't know what a clinker is its coal that got to hot and turned into a rock. Its safe to say i thought the boiler did blow up the day i heard that thing drop.

AlfCock103 karma


nugoo49 karma

Haha not as much as i would like, im pretty busy most of the day.

festivemanb75 karma

What do people who work in coal energy production think about climate change?

nugoo145 karma

The same as most people, some care, some dont. A big miss conception we get is that because we work in a coal plant we must hate the Eco system. That's the complete opposite of what i think. I think climate change is a real and big threat to our future and if the proper steps aren't taken to control it the generations after us could be in for some tough times.

memtiger25 karma

Do you think that coal and a clean environment can co-exist? Meaning are there hopeful changes to coal that can make it closer to zero emissions?

nugoo80 karma

Eh coal has a stigma with it that will never go away. The core essence of turning coal into energy comes with carbon emissions, you can't change that. But no they cant, its obsolete now for the most part anyway.

cuddlefucker0 karma

I think coal is necessary for a long time heading into the future. The beauty in coal is that it's a scalable energy source. You can raise and lower production in ways that solar/wind/nuclear can't. Until batteries reach a point where they are cheap enough and it's environmentally efficient enough to produce them coal will be necessary. That said, I'm a huge advocate for the push for those renewable energy sources because we use entirely too much coal right now. Also, I would like to see newer more efficient coal plants built.

TimmahOnReddit5 karma

You can raise and lower production in ways that solar/wind/nuclear can't

Nuclear and Coal power are both "baseload" energy sources, that is, they are designed to be turned on and left on because it is expensive to shut them down and restart them.

Natural Gas, Solar, and Wind are "variable load" neergy sources that are designed to meet usage fluctuations (like summer A/C usage) or are dependant on external factors that vary (sun/wind)

nugoo2 karma

Couldn't of said it better myself

kothomefries33 karma

Canadian here... what are the requirement for flue gas scrubbing down under? What slurrys/chemicals are used? Do you use a high sulphur coal blend and scrub or a low sulphur coal blend and sceub less? Are you required to capture mercury? So I guess what are the emissions requirements/permits you have to follow?

nugoo37 karma


kothomefries36 karma

In Canada and the US we use a process called flue gas desulphurisation, FGD or a spray dryer or scrubber where the flue gasses are passed through a fine mist of slurrys or powders to capture sulphur or mercury or other harmful compounds or elements from entering the atmosphere. These attach to the lime slurry or power activated carbon and are captured in the bag houses. So this is not something Australia has instituted yet. You indicated tht there are very few coal plants. Is it perhaps this low number of coal emissions that means the governing environmental body in Australia does not see this as a major polluter?

nugoo19 karma

Ahh ill have to look that up and have a read

cudddleuptome15 karma

Are you a union member and if not what association represents you? In your role do you you have an opportunity to contribute to OHS policy forming? In your opinion does your facility have much effect on the local community, the wild live and the environment in a negative way?

nugoo32 karma

I am not. I would say it does more good then bad to the community. It's the focal point of our town. The company pumps a lot of sponsor ship into organisation/sporting clubs in our local town which helps a lot. They pretty much find all the golf tournament prize winnings. As for the wild life not really, we have had this 1 random goat living behind the fence on the edge of the water for almost 10 years now, there's a cat that follows him around aswell.

LincolnHox15 karma

If I needed to economize based on outside air enthalpy, how should I tune my PID loop?

nugoo34 karma

ziegler nichols theory or you can find the Auto-Tune button on the controller lel.

vem_vare10 karma

Can you tell me a little about what kind of controllers you use in the process?

nugoo17 karma

Back a few years ago PLC's were used for small stand alone parts of the plant that were independent of the main control system. Now the entire plant runs off a distributive control system (DCS), its practically a HUGE PLC but the information is digitized and all interpreted by large amount of computer servers. That's the way the industry is going at the moment.

awesomecostumelady9 karma

I am an instrument mechanic in Canada! (Female, one of the few) Are you more of a mechanical troubleshooting type or do you do more of the programming side? Keep up the good work. Our job can be pretty awesome sometimes!

nugoo7 karma

More of the programming side, PLCS/Setting up of instruments. Radar level detection etc.

serpentsevensix7 karma

Are you pro or anti nuclear power? Do you think it might ever replace coal for base load power generation in Australia?

nugoo9 karma

Mmmm that's tough, i think if your going to be placing nuclear plants around you need to be 100000% sure that nothing will ever go wrong. Some country's are willing to take that risk some aren't. I think nuclear fusion is a very interesting concept and i see that being that way of the future in 30+ years time, don't get that confusion with nuclear fission which is what current nuclear power stations operate on. Gas powered stations replaced coal, for gas to be replaced with nuclear some very specific circumstances need to come about for that to happen. Gas prices will have to soar to make it justifiable to run nuclear energy reactors, there would also need to be approval from the government.

murilomm1927 karma

I'm studying electric engineering and did control systems last semester and I found the subject fascinating, how much of that (P, PI, PID, state feedback controllers) do you use on a daily basis or most of it is computer controlled and your job is more to assure everything is running smoothly?

nugoo9 karma

Every day we deal with the control loop, we have to routinely do loop tuning which is adjusting the PID parameters to make up for changes in the control loop. EG: Valve wear over years and slow its reaction time. But yes to answer your question quite a bit, every day.

HakunaPotatoe7 karma

What did you take in school to get into instrumentation? I took an instrumentation class in my electrical engineering program and really enjoyed it. Any advice for a young person hoping to get into the field?

nugoo13 karma

Physics, more physics and more physics. You need to understand how the instruments make there measurements and its all done on the manipulation of physical properties. Pressure, electricity, magnetism, radiation all that sort of fun stuff.

NicolaiStrixa5 karma

As a former Power station IT guy I must ask something - How "Current" is your computer hardware in the control systems area? The stuff that I used to have to deal with was so ancient. I was giving the CS guys stuff that I was replacing because it was too old and it was still 4-5 years newer than the gear that was being used....

nugoo4 karma

It's not that bad now compared to what it use to be. It was all PLC driven up untill about 5 years ago when they upgraded to the DCS, the control system is modernised now but you somewhat still feel like your in a time machine when walking around some parts of the plant lol.

mr_dr_professor_125 karma

Thanks for the AMA! Is Australia planning to eventually discontinue the use of coal fueled power stations in favor of a cleaner alternative? And what are the more noticeable differences between the 80's era power station and the 60's power station?

nugoo12 karma

Yes there is a big push for more solar and wind energy in Australia. The market has seen a HUGE change with the amount of wind turbines in Australia at the moment. That's not always a good thing though because you sacrifice the stability a base load power station provides. I believe without a shadow of a doubt we will probably be the last operating coal fired power station in the years to come and i don't see any more being built. Australia's main power income comes from solar, wind and gas now days. The 60's power station was a lot less automated, if you wanted a certain steam temperature in a specific spot someone physically had to go down and turn a valve to make that happen. In the modern power stations its all done automatically, with the use of monitoring instruments and control instruments, a giant distributive control system powered by a brain room makes all the adjustments accordingly. My job is centered around this system and the controlling of process.

SerpentineLogic15 karma

Yes there is a big push for more solar and wind energy in Australia.

That's not what the Prime Minister says :(

nugoo10 karma

This was before our dear leader abbot took command. On windy days win will make up roughly 40% of South Australia's energy needs.

JeffersonTwilite4 karma

What type/brand of PLCs were used before the migration to the DCS?

I'm in Canada, just curious what the popular ones are down there.

nugoo4 karma

Alan bradly, mitsubishi, APB

chipedals3 karma

So, I'm an I&C design engineer that's had a lot of fights with operations over just how automated plants should be. In real terms, how much do you actually do to operate the plant through manual controls on your HMI, and how much do you just watch your plant run?

nugoo3 karma

Yea theres a mentality of proove the instrument is right before we belive it were i am lol. Half and Half there are two unit operators on all the time, they work on shift and controll the plant through a HMI. But that being said a large portion of it is run automatically. A lot when we are doing loop tuning you just watch and observe lol.

scrid20003 karma

How often do people berate you about your job contributing to climate change, and equate you with a mass murderer or a cannibal who considers small children a delicacy? Also, do you slap these people, and if not, why?

nugoo4 karma

I don't really hear it at all. Had one guy complain to me about it once before, its a job, its interesting it applies to everything not only coal plants. I mainly just ignore there ignorance and dont give them the time of day lol.

ooboof2 karma

If the plant closes down, what do you plan to do after it?

nugoo3 karma

Work somewhere else, preferably not a coal power station, you get rediculously dirty doing nothing at all.

bracnogard2 karma

Does Australia have a regulatory body for critical infrastructure (similar to NERC/FERC in the US)? If so, how does that affect your job, if at all?

nugoo2 karma

If there is one it has no effect on my job what so ever.

nontheistzero2 karma

I started in nuclear power. I moved to a coal plant and after 4 years on coal we did a biomass (wood) conversion.

Is the same thing happening in AU? What's the state of your energy production?

nugoo2 karma

Our primary means of base load in Australia is gas, we have a lot of homes powered on personal solar panels and wind makes up for the rest. I don't see a change happening in the near future. Our population is small compared to the size of our county so energy production probably isn't as intense as it is in other country's.

theRealWeissy2 karma

Hey, thanks for the AMA! This is quite the interesting topic! Anyways, I was wondering what sort of qualifications one needs in order to have your job whether they be educational or anything else?

nugoo2 karma

The feild has a few levels to it. You can become an instrumentation and control system trade person wich is a 4 year apprentiship. That entales installing feild instruments as a profession. Its hard to get into though the feild is sort of specilised and the class i went through with only had 15 for that year. You can really only get positions in industrial plant and things of that sort. Then you can do an extra year or two in a tertiery learning centre (uni etc) to become a technition.

Leovinus_Jones1 karma

How do you feel about the various political goings-on which seem to be guaranteeing you employment in a continued coal-burning power industry?

Also, what kind of safeguards are in place for radiation exposure, which as we know is higher in coal burning plants than in Nuclear plants?

nugoo1 karma

Is what it is, i don't worry to much about that. Coal is becoming out dated though, that is a fact. Mmm heat is radiation the radiation nuclear plants put out is different to the radiation we have at coal power plants. Its not really harmful to us.

jenssenfucker1 karma

one of the few remaining coal fired power stations in Australia

Please excuse my ignorance. Aren't most power stations in Australia coal-powered right now?

Did most of them switch to natural gas while I wasn't looking?

nugoo3 karma

Yes gas alot have shutdown also

boynxdor1 karma

Wikipedia suggests 77% of Australia's power is generated by coal (granted that reference seemed to be 2003 so that might well have changed). That said I can't believe coal is currently any less than 50%.

nugoo1 karma

A lot of coal fired power stations can be converted to gas with little expenditure. Most of the plant is already set up for it. We couldn't swap because our boilers cant be converted. I know a large majority of Australia's coal swapped to gas if it was viable.

thesmiddy1 karma

How long do you think it will be until Australia contributes its "fair share" of carbon emissions? i.e. we currently contribute ~1.5% of global emissions but only have 0.3% of the population so we would need to reduce our emissions by a factor of 5 to achieve this goal.

Is your company working on any CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) modifications to the power plant? Is the plant modern enough to be compatible with existing/immediate future solutions?

Might be a bit outside your area of expertise but I thought I'd ask anyway.

nugoo3 karma

I think it will come in the near future, our country as a whole is moving towards a more renewable future with wind solar etc. We dont have nuculear like other countrys so we still resort to gas and coal wich contributes to alot of that. Coal will be out of the picture in the next 10-15 years without a doubt. Out plant only has 10 or so years left in it. Our plant is to old to warrent the spending of carbon capture and storage modifications.

Ulanyouknow1 karma

Are the machines in these factories safe? Do you have the feeling that some of these machines could blow in your face while you are working?

One could asume that being that old maybe some could have some malfunctions.

nugoo1 karma

Yea there are times when I'm walking passed a pipe that has 18MPA worth of steam pressure in it that could cut me in half. Odds of some of that stuff happening though are astronomical. But


dublinirish0 karma

are there many immigrant irish people working in your station and what is your opinion on them?

nugoo1 karma

None at all

iglyboop0 karma

As a student studying power stations in regards to clean energy, how has your plant made efforts to decrease emissions?

Also, how did you end up with this role/job or in this industry/workplace, and what advice can you give a young one?

nugoo2 karma

It hasn't really, its hard to do something like that because that involves re-designing plant, most higher ups are of the mentality that this place is so old there's no point spending huge amounts of money to cut emissions if they don't have to.

I started as a trade, the best advice i can give to anyone who is still in school or just left and is looking to get into a trade is do a prevocational study course in your chosen field. EG: Electrical, Fitting, Metal fabrication. In South Australia we call it prevok, its a golden ticket into any trade. Most tafe institutes do it over 6 months or a year full time. Every single person i work with did a prevok before they were employed.

Trades are sort of endless, if you have the potential you can work up to becoming an engineer if you really applied yourself, there great career paths that lead to many opportunities.