COLUMBUS, Ga.--(The Medical Center of Columbus Regional Healthcare System is a 400-bed hospital that offers a comprehensive menu of medical services. Like all healthcare facilities, The Medical Center relies on emergency standby generators to ensure uninterrupted electrical power during utility outages. However, like many established healthcare facilities, the hospital’s backup system was an aging collection of standby generators that had been added over the years as the hospital grew. The generators were still adequate to power critical loads during utility outages, but they lacked the capacity to handle the hospital’s total electrical load, including HVAC.)--Recognized as the region’s leading healthcare provider,
“If any piece of equipment in this plant fails, there’s a backup piece of equipment that will do its job”
Rather than add to its mix of existing standby generators—some that were over 30 years old—The Medical Center decided to replace all of them with a new central power plant equipped with four new 2,500 kW generator sets from MTU Onsite Energy. Not only does the new central plant provide emergency standby power for all of the hospital’s current needs, it also gives hospital personnel new flexibility in managing the power supply and utility costs, while ensuring enough backup power to accommodate future growth.
Over the years, utility outages at The Medical Center have ranged from a few seconds to several hours, according to Mark Smith, the hospital’s director of facilities management. When utility power is lost, patients’ lives literally depend on backup power systems to keep electricity flowing to operating rooms, nurseries and life-sustaining medical devices. Backup systems also power emergency egress-lighting and fire-protection equipment, Smith noted.
Plant features four new generators
The new central plant, located across the street from the main hospital in a free-standing building, houses four new 2,500 kW generator sets from MTU Onsite Energy. With a total capacity of 10 MW, the four units could power almost 1,000 homes with 200 amp service panels, according to Smith. The generator sets’ MTU 20V Series 4000 engines feature greater cylinder displacement than comparable generator-drive engines, giving them greater reserve horsepower for better load acceptance, as well as precise voltage and frequency control. Voltage and frequency control are important in healthcare applications because medical imaging and other equipment are especially sensitive to power quality.
Like many mission-critical facilities, the hospital has provided for several layers of protection against power outages. To ensure redundancy, utility feeds from two separate substations supply power to the main switchboard. If power from one utility feed fails, the other utility feed automatically supplies the power. The standby generators get a signal to start if one of the utility feeds fails; however, if the second utility source remains stable, the generators shut down and return to a standby state. A generator equipment failure won’t cause problems for what Smith described as a “totally redundant” system. “If any piece of equipment in this plant fails, there’s a backup piece of equipment that will do its job,” he said. “So you’d actually have to have multiple failures before the plant wouldn’t operate.”
The MTU Onsite Energy generator sets generate power at 12,470 volts, which is fairly unique for standby power systems. However, the ability of the generators to operate at this high voltage enables them to match the incoming utility voltage and avoid energy-wasting transformers between the utility and the central plant. Also, by generating at this high voltage, electricity travels more efficiently through the underground cables connecting the central plant to the hospital across the street. Even the layout of the new central plant contributes to the system’s efficiency. For example, the design engineer arranged the four generator sets so that the exhaust vents from the engines and the cooling air intake vents for the radiators were located on the same side of the building. This design makes sure that the exhaust gases do not reenter the building, and it allows all of the switchgear to be grouped together along the other side of the building, resulting in more efficient use of space and easier maintenance access.
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About MTU Onsite Energy
MTU Onsite Energy is a leading producer of diesel-powered generator sets from 30 to 3,250 kW and natural gas-powered generator sets from 30 to 400 kW for standby, prime power and cogeneration applications. The company also provides automatic transfer switches, paralleling switchgear, controls and accessories for complete power system solutions. MTU Onsite Energy is a subsidiary of Tognum America Inc., part of the Germany-based Tognum Group.
About Tognum America
Tognum America (formerly MTU Detroit Diesel) is a Tognum Group company and is responsible for the manufacture, sales and support of MTU and MTU Onsite Energy branded products in North and Latin America.
With its two business units, Engines and Onsite Energy, the Tognum Group is one of the world’s leading suppliers of engines and propulsion systems for off-highway applications and of distributed power generation systems. These products are based on diesel engines with up to 9,100 kilowatts (kW) power output, gas engines up to 2,150 kW and gas turbines up to 45,000 kW.
The product portfolio of the Engines business unit comprises MTU engines and propulsion systems for ships, for heavy land, rail and defense vehicles and for the oil and gas industry. The Onsite Energy business unit supplies distributed power generation systems carrying the MTU Onsite Energy brand. These comprise diesel engines for emergency power, prime power and continuous power, as well as cogeneration power plants based on gas engines and gas turbines that generate both power and heat. Tognum’s product portfolio also features fuel-injection systems built by L’Orange.
In 2011, Tognum generated revenue of around €2.97 billion and employs more than 10,000 people. Tognum has a global manufacturing, distribution and service structure with 24 fully consolidated companies, more than 140 sales partners and over 500 authorized dealerships at approximately 1,200 locations. Since September 2011, Engine Holding GmbH, a joint venture between Daimler AG and Rolls-Royce Group plc, has a majority holding in Tognum.AG and Rolls-Royce Group plc, has a majority holding in Tognum.