Trash rack cleaning machines from Vorarlberg in global demand

Autor: Andreas Pointinger , 16.12.2019

There is a good reason why Künz GmbH, which was founded in 1932, is one of the leading companies in the engineering ­industry in Vorarlberg. Among other things, ...

... over recent decades the company has established itself as a reliable partner for ­manufacturing high-quality hydropower equipment around the globe. Its range of products comprises of complete hydraulic steelwork solutions for run-of-river and storage power plants, high-pressure gates, crane systems and trash rack cleaning machines. Künz provides customised solutions to suit the particular requirements of new construction projects, upgrade projects, replacement projects or remediation projects. In Künz recent history, the company has continued to expand globally with an influx of projects in North America and South-East Asia. The primary focus of these projects has been to proivde trash rack cleaning technology to large hydropower plants. Künz’s most powerful hydraulic trash rack cleaner to date is being supplied for the 195-megawatt “Forrest Kerr” power plant in Canada. Still very much present back home in Austria, Künz engineers are delivering their largest horizontal trash rack cleaning machine for the reconstruction of Traunleiten Power Plant in Upper Austria. With more than 50 years of experience in manufacturing reliable trash rack cleaning systems, Künz offers a technical solution that is always individually adapted for a wide range of different areas of application.

To ensure that a hydropower plant can operate as efficiently as possible, great importance is attached to making sure that the inflow works properly. Any floating debris that is washed up at the inflow area may considerably hamper the operation of the plant and the performance of the electromechanical equipment as a consequence. To address this problem, Künz GmbH, which is based in the town of Hard in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg, provides an extensive range of semi-automatic or fully automatic trash rack cleaning solutions. With their technical sophistication and robust design, the hydraulic systems from Künz are ideally suited to removing bulky debris both from vertical and inclined protective screens. They have a lifting capacity of up to 6 tons and are manufactured with a cleaning depth of up to 33 m. If necessary, the hydraulic systems can be expanded with additional equipment such as bulkhead lifting devices or grabbers. For dams where a restricted amount of space is available, Künz provides rope-type trash rack cleaning machines that offer high precision and reliability. These machines are noted primarily for their low maintenance requirements, lifting capacities up to 8.5 tons and can clean up to depths of 100 m. In addition, the integrated loading crane enables carpets of floating debris to be removed from the surface of the water. In the case of new construction or even power plant revitilizations, fish and eco-friendly horizontal screens are increasingly installed. Künz also offers a trash rack cleaning solution for this situation, further catering to the needs of any potential client. Machines with this design have a thrust cleaning capacity of up to 3 tons and are suitable for cleaning to depths of up to 8 m. An integrated loading crane allows rapid removal of bulky floating debris such as large branches or tree trunks. With systems of this design, the floating debris is removed automatically via a flushing unit at the end of the trash rack array.

“Made in Austria” in global demand
“To be able to guarantee the highest quality standards, all trash rack cleaning machines from Künz are fully designed, manufactured, commissioned and rigorously tested in our three dedicated production facilities. Künz’s central hub for the hydro sector is its plant in Groß St. Florian in the Austrian state of Styria,” explains hydro product manager Samuel Wolfgang. In total, the major company employs around 500 workers at its five sites in Austria, Italy, Slovakia and the USA. In recent years, Künz has acquired an outstanding reputation both nationally and internationally with its reliable technical solutions. The products of the company from Western Austria are particularly popular on the North American continent, confirms Wolfgang: “In the last four years, the energy provider AltaGas, which operates in the USA and Canada, has ordered four trash rack cleaning machines, making it one of our most important customers in North America. For the current ‘Forrest Kerr’ AltaGas project, a 195-megawatt plant located around 1,500 km north-west of Vancouver, Künz is supplying what is to date the heaviest and most powerful hydraulic machine of the ‘H4000’ type from its own production.” The Shoeshone Falls Power Plant, which is operated by Idaho Power in the North-West USA, also relies on quality “made in Austria”. In 2017, the operators placed an order for the supply of three hydraulic “H200” trash rack cleaners, a new machine type that arrived to market in 2016.

Prestige project in the Far East
Künz is also developing a strong presence in South-East Asia, having recently installed a „GE85“ rope-type trash rack cleaning machine at the 1260-megawatt project on the Xayaburi Dam in Laos. According to Wolfgang, the construction of the mega-power plant on the Mekong River in NW Laos by the client Xayaburi Power Corporation, is currently one of the most prestigious hydropwoer projects throughout Asia. A few thousand kilometres further west, Künz proved to be stiff competition in India for the new customer “OM Metals” a rope-type trash rack cleaning machine of the “EK45” type shall be delivered for
the Vyasi Power Plant. Künz has also secured a new customer in its home country with Wels Strom GmbH. For the reconstruction of Traunleiten Power Plant in Upper Austria, which will start operating at the end of 2019, Künz is manufacturing a horizontal trash rack cleaning machine. “Masses of rock lichen that accumulated on the trash rack installations made life difficult for the operator over many years. With the reconstruction of the power plant, Wels Strom is now also investing in a powerful trash rack cleaning facility with a patented drive system that in future will reliably guarantee a free flow through the installation,” states Wolfgang.

Individually adapted technology
With more than 50 years of experience delivering unique trash rack cleaning machines around the globe, Künz can confidently provide solutions to any hydropower plant. Whether the plant exhibits tropical conditions like in South-East Asia, or harsh winters like northern Canada, Künz has a solution for you. “Künz trash rack cleaning systems generally always derive from a series that has been put to the test. But the basic machine is then always adapted precisely to cater for the needs of the customer. This ensures that operators receive solutions that are customised yet have already been tested over many years,” explains Wolfgang, citing as an example the “H4000” XXL trash rack cleaner for the Forrest Kerr Power Plant in Canada: “With this plant, a difficult inlet geometry results in unfavourable inflow conditions and very special requirements placed on the trash rack cleaning system. Huge side currents of > 3 m/s at the hydraulic boom system represent a very unusual requirement and demand everything from the system. The extremely robust design of the steel structure and the bearings ensure that the large power plant operates smoothly, especially during the snow thaw in the spring.”

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The globally proven hydraulic trash rack cleaners by the engineering experts from Vorarlberg ensure optimum flow conditions and are also very adept at handling even bulky floating debris. The picture shows a trash rack cleaner from the “H4000” series in use in Arkansas.

photo credits: Künz

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“GE85” rope-type trash rack cleaning machine for the new large power plant on the Xayaburi Dam in Laos, South-East Asia.

photo credits: Künz

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Horizontal Trash Rack Cleaning Machine at the Rüchlig Power Plant on the River Aare in Switzerland.

photo credits: Künz

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“EK45” rope-type trash rack cleaner for the Vyasi Power Plant in India.

photo credits: Künz

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Hydraulic trash rack cleaner of the “H200” series at Halsey Afterbay Power Plant.

photo credits: Künz