On Wednesday, Eskom announced the high levels of ash being emitted by the Lethabo power station located in the Free State.

The Lethabo power station is currently experiencing very high emissions on four of its six units due to the failure of the ash plant equipment that is responsible for moving ash to the ash dump, resulting in significant fly ash backlog on the precipitator hoppers of all six units’, Eskom said in a statement.

The precipitator hoppers are responsible for removing dust and the build-up of ash has limited the hoppers from operating efficiently, leading to the high emissions.fly ash

During the generation process coal is ground up into a powder like form which is optimal for combustion. The ground product includes fine ash which is called fly ash or pulverised fuel ash which is used for generation and coarse ash which is the excess to be excreted by the system. Any ash remains in the hopper and flue gas streams is removed by the electrostatic precipitators, which remove 99.8 percent of ash remains.

The technical team is working around the clock to resolve this problem and have managed to get the hoppers working on 2 of the 6 units with a further 2 more on the mend.

Eskom said that Unit 5 had been ‘taken off load for repairs and production’ in order to reduce the high levels of emissions which would be in breach of the power station’s atmospheric emission license should it continue to run.

Unfortunately there has been some internal damage which has been done to the precipitator fields in one of the units and will be forced to shut shown for maintenance repairs.

Eskom said that ‘this work may take some time to complete and recover the good performance levels the power station had prior to this incident’.

The plant has an installed capacity of 3 708MW and has an ash content of 42 percent, it is the only global power station which runs off low grade coal.

The Utility has extended their apology to the community and public that are likely to experience high level emissions at Lethabo Power Station.

(Pic credits: Hampton roads.com)