THE WEST DESERT PUMPING PROJECT ON THE GREAT SALT LAKE, UTAH
9025 Phoebe Court Annandale, Virginia, 22003
Most antique engine collectors are aware that large bore gas, diesel and even gasoline engines were produced between the late 1800's and early 1940's but how many people are aware that large-bore gas and diesel engines are still being produced by a handful of engine manufacturers throughout the world? Via a long-sought employment change, this author has become associated with Ingersoll-Rand four-cycle, natural gas fueled engines. Three of these engines are the star performers at the West Desert Pump Station located at Hogup Ridge on the western shore of the Great Salt Lake in Utah.
The West Desert Pumping Project was conceived as a means to control the level of the Great Salt Lake. Throughout history, the level of the Great Salt Lake has risen and fallen, but by June 1986 the level had reached an elevation of approximately 4,212 feet. This record high was twenty feet above the lake's 1963 record low. The cities of Salt Lake City, Ogden and Willard along with farmland, railroads, interstate highways and a wildlife refuge were threatened. Construction of the Pump Station had begun in 1986; Ingersoll-Rand had been awarded the contract to supply all of the major equipment.
Three vertical shaft pumps, three right-angle speed reduction drives and three lean-burn gas engines acting through low resonance couplings and pneumatically actuated clutches comprise the heart of the project. A multitude of support systems also exist; lubricant and cooling/raw water pumping systems, air compression systems for engine starting, instrumentation and plant use and a self-contained electrical generation system featuring Kato alternators driven by Cummins GAS engines. The Pump Station also houses a computerized data acquisition/monitoring system that is tied into the State of Utah Division of Water Resources Office.
The first engine and pump were commissioned and put on line in April 1987. By early summer all units were operating. From the outlet of the pumps, the water flows through an approximately 4.5 mile long canal and out into an area that is now known as the West Pond. The West Pond covers an estimated 500 square miles with a depth of 2.5 feet. This large area, combined with the shallow depth, provides for rapid evaporation of the water.
The engines were built at Ingersoll-Rand's Engine Process Compressor Division in Painted Post, New York. From Painted Post, the engines were transported to the I-R Services Division in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. At the Services Division, the engines were mounted on custom fabricated skid packages then transported out to Hogup Ridge, Utah. The engines are model PKVSE, 16 cylinder, vee-style. The cylinder bore is 16.250 inches, stroke is 18 inches. All current Ingersoll-Rand engines are fueled with natural gas; the PKVSE is fuel injected by means of an individual poppet-style valve in each cylinder. These engines are turbocharged with air only being admitted through the intake manifold. The PKVSE/KVSE series represent state-of-the-art technology in gas engine production because they incorporate lean-burn combustion for low NOx exhaust emissions. The lean-burn combustion makes use of a stratified charge, divided combustion chamber. A very lean air/fuel charge is admitted to the main combustion chamber while a rich air/fuel charge is admitted to a small precombustion chamber located adjacent to the main chamber. A conventional spark plug located in the precombustion chamber ignites the rich charge; this flame front then travels through a small passage and ignites the lean main chamber charge. Due to the excess air in the lean mixture, the peak combustion temperature is low (as compared to the peak temperature of stoichiometric combustion), which results in very low formations of NOx emissions. Another advantage of the pre-chamber is that the flame issuing from it provides multiple ignition points within the main chamber insuring reliable, stable ignition of the lean main charge. The effect of the multiple flame fronts actually results in an audible combustion knock similar to a diesel engine! This thorough combustion also contributes to low emissions of CO and reactive HC. These engines also feature microprocessor controlled turbocharger boost, ignition timing and air/fuel ratio.
The pumps were produced by Ingersoll-Rand's Engineered Pump Group in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. They are 50 feet high, 12 feet in diameter and weigh 160,000 pounds each. In order to operate with the high salinity of the water, all pump components are made with an aluminum-bronze alloy. Each pump is rated at 450,000 gallons per minute; the three pumps operating at rated engine speed will move 1,350,000 GPM! The pump bearings are lubricated by a Farval grease system that operates whenever an engine is running.
The right-angle speed reduction drives were also supplied by the Engineered Pump Group although they were built by the Brad Foote Gear Works in Cicero, Illinois. The gearset is a spiral bevel type having a ratio of 2.37:1. The drives feature a fully pressurized oil lubrication system.
In February 1987, the corporate structure of Ingersoll-Rand underwent a major change. A joint venture was formed between Ingersoll-Rand Company and Dresser Industries. Both companies combined forces in a number of areas. The steam turbine groups, engine and compressor groups and the I-R Services Division were separated from their respective parent companies and combined as DRESSER-RAND. Ingeroll-Rand, Clark and Worthington engines are all currently handled out of the Painted Post, New York plant. Dresser-Rand Services Division was awarded and subsequently extended the operations and maintenance contract for the West Desert Pumping Project. After all, who knows the equipment better than the people who built it?
As of February 1988, all is well with the Pumping Project. Water is flowing and the personnel are looking forward to another summer of Salt Lake fun!
Engine enthusiasts seeking further information should feel free to contact me at my home address or the following: Dresser-Rand Company, West Desert Pumping Project, 261 E. 300 South, Suite 150, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84111. Telephone (801) 295-5666.