6 Safety Management Tips For Dam Owners

Humans have increasingly become dependent on electricity, which is due in no small part to the many advances in technology. From healthcare and commerce to the way people communicate with each other, everything that makes life livable now requires electrical power.

With all the growing demand for electricity, government and business leaders are continually pressured by the public to find ways to generate more power while keeping the planet safe. Renewable energy is the buzzword for finding the balance between power generation and giving the environment a much-needed TLC (tender loving care).

That said, water is one of the most common sources of renewable energy – it generates hydroelectricity, which makes up around 44% of renewable energy in the U.S. alone. Harvesting hydropower involves harnessing the flow of water. In other words, hydropower plants require dams to be built to hold and control the water that’ll turn the generators or turbines, generating electricity.

But hydropower is just one part of the equation. Water is essential for humans, without which life won’t even be possible. From hydropower to drinking water supply, dams will continue to be vital for humanity’s survival. Owners must manage their dams effectively to keep them safe and working. Doing so can prevent risks that may result in loss of life and property.

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Challenges Posed By Dams

Most dams used for hydropower generation and water supply are man-made–they’re made up of concrete. Hence, there are structural and stability challenges that need to be solved. You don’t need to see a movie just to know what might happen if a dam is breached.

 There was a time when operators relied on visual inspection, photos, and interpretation by engineers to analyze a dam’s safety levels. Today, there are state-of-the-art monitoring tools to help dam operators. Hence, there are now advanced solutions that allow dam owners to keep the structural integrity in check.

Take the case of Hunter Water Grahamstown Dam in Australia. This dam is designed to provide a drinking water supply and recycled water service to an area with approximately 600,000 people. As a storage dam, it constantly presents challenges that can compromise its structural integrity.

Using modern dam monitoring tools, Grahamstown Dam owners can effectively manage the dam’s integrity in a remote setting. In turn, this allows nearby residents to sleep soundly at night. The secret lies in using AI technology, such as Rezatec’s Dam Monitoring solution, to remotely churn out geospatial data that tracks everything–from ground movements to moisture levels. Nothing is left to chance or open interpretation. Also, fewer visual inspections are now required.

Dam Safety Management Tips

Indeed, humans have completely changed the way water is stored–whether for drinking or generating power. In a study aimed at monitoring and taking a closer look at the changing levels of global freshwater sources, researchers used NASA’s satellite and found that humans are now responsible for 57% of the planet’s seasonal water storage, which is happening in reservoirs and dams.

With the ever-increasing world population, it’s logical for one to think that more reservoirs and dams will be built in the foreseeable future. Whether it’s for drinking or harnessing hydropower, dams are here to stay. Owners and operators must learn to manage their dams dynamically.

Taking a cue from what operators did in managing the safety of the Grahamstown Dam, here are some tips on how to keep dams safe and functioning properly for years to come.

1. Create A Dam’s Risk Profile

No dam is perfect. For one, there’s always a trade-off among costs, location, and capacity when designing and building dams. It’s left to the owners to make the best out of the dams they’re managing. In a bid to reduce risks, owners should always know the status of their dams. For one, they should define risk areas and be aware of the dam’s weaknesses.

By creating a dam’s risk profile, managers won’t be caught unaware should disasters occur. For instance, if a barrier was designed to withstand a 10-magnitude earthquake, then a reading of 11 on the Richter scale should put workers on full alert even if the dam isn’t breached. Emergency inspections and responses should also be triggered.

2. Effective Dam Monitoring In Place

Dams, like the one in Grahamstown, require continued monitoring. There’s no shortcut to knowing or tracking the structural integrity of a dam except via monitoring.

In the past, owners relied on photography and visual inspections. The problem was the data gathered could be biased and were open to misinterpretation. Hence, it would be best to adopt AI-based solutions to ensure accurate monitoring data.

3. Ready Access To Construction Documentation

Dams are big structures and they’re often made up of different segments and materials. Making things more complicated is the fact that no two dams are the same–each has its own design features.

When managing a dam, the people responsible for it should have access to the dam’s design and construction blueprint. By doing so, managers will be less likely to do things that can compromise the dam’s structure and functionality.

4. Prioritize Incident Reports

Dam workers must be required to report all incidents that occur, including emergencies and operational shutdowns. Such reports will keep the management in the loop and enable key players to recommend a plan of action to prevent such incidents from happening again.

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5. Operations And Safety Manuals At The Ready

Dams are run by different people working in various shifts. While training workshops are essential for new and experienced workers, people tend to forget what they’re trained for. It’s crucial to have operations and safety manuals readily accessible to ensure that everyone is on the same page while operating the dam. This way, workers won’t be left guessing on what to do in case emergencies happen.

6. Multi-discipline Management Approach

While new technologies allow remote, scalable, and cost-effective dam management, it’s still vital to have human operators and engineers tracking changes or investigating anomalies. Environmental sciences should work with soil engineering and other disciplines. AI should also work with good old-fashioned human insights.

By combining multiple disciplines, dam owners will be more confident in reducing risks and meeting regulatory requirements across different sectors.

Conclusion

Dams are vital for human survival. They can be harnessed to provide water supply and electricity. Due to this, expect that there will be more dams built in the foreseeable future.

With that in mind, owners and operators should learn how to keep dams safe and effective to prevent loss of life and property.

Applications of Epoxy Resin in Clean Energy Sector

Epoxy resin is a kind of reactive prepolymer and polymer that contains epoxide groups. It is important to note that epoxy resin is different from other polyester resins in terms of curing. Unlike other resins, instead of using a catalyst as a curing agent, it is cured by an agent known as the hardener. It possesses many desirable properties such as high tensile strength, high adhesive strength, high corrosion resistance, and excellent moisture & chemical resistance. It is also resistant to fatigue, has a long shelf life, and has good electrical and insulating properties. The ability of epoxy resins to be used in various combinations and reinforcements makes it the foundation of a plethora of industries, including clean energy systems.

Applications of Epoxy Resins

Because of the versatile properties of epoxy resins, it is used widely in adhesives, potting, encapsulating electronics, and printed circuit boards. It is also used in the form of matrices for composites in the aerospace industries. Epoxy composite laminates are commonly used for repairing both composite as well as steel structures in marine applications.

Due to its high reactivity, epoxy resin is preferred in repairing boats that have been damaged by impact. Its low shrinking properties and ease of fabrication make it well suited for many tooling applications such as metal-shaping molds, vacuum-forming molds, jigs, patterns etc.

Use of Epoxy Resins in Clean Energy

A variety of industries have been actively trying to find a path that’s moving towards a society that puts less load on the the environment and also contributes towards reducing the carbon footprint. The accelerated use of epoxy resins in generating renewable energy has lead to a rise in its production demand. This is why the epoxy resin market is projected to witness a high demand and growth rate by 2022. Here are some of the sectors contributing to the production of clean energy and how they utilize epoxy resin for their functioning:

  • Solar Energy

The harnessing of solar energy dates back to 700 B.C, when people used a magnifying glass to focus the sun’s rays to produce fire. Today solar power is a vigorously developing energy source around the globe. It not only caters to the rising energy requirements but also the need to protect the environment from the exploitation of exhaustible energy resources.

A piece of average solar equipment endures intense environmental conditions such as scorching heat, UV radiations, bitter cold,  pouring rain, hail, storms, and turbulent winds. To withstand such conditions, the sealing and mounting application of epoxy resins increase the environmental tolerance of the solar equipment.

With their high mechanical strength, impressive dimensional stability and excellent adhesion properties, they are used to protect the solar panels from a wide range of temperatures. Epoxies are cheap, less labor-intensive and easy to apply.

  • Wind Energy

The global wind industry has quickly emerged as one of the largest sources of renewable energy around the world. The wind energy in the U.S. alone grew by 9% in 2017 and today is the largest source for generating clean energy in the country. With such a tremendous demand for wind power, the need for fabricating bigger and better wind turbine blades is also rising. The industry is in a dearth of long-lasting blades, that endure the harsh climatic conditions and wear tear and are able to collect more wind energy at a time.

Sealing and mounting application of epoxy resins increase the environmental tolerance of the solar equipment

Epoxy thermosets are used for making the blades more durable because of their high tensile strength and high creep resistance. Mixing of epoxy resins with various toughening agents and using them on the blades have shown positive results towards making the blades corrosion resistant and fatigue-proof.

  • Hydropower

Hydropower is an essential source of renewable and clean energy. As the hydropower industry is developing rapidly, the solution for protecting the hydropower concrete surfaces against low temperatures and lashing water flow has also been looked into.

As a solution to this issue, epoxy mortar, a mixture of epoxy resins, binder, solvent, mineral fillers, and some additives has proven to be the most effective material used for surface protection. Owing to the properties like non-permeability, adhesive strength, anti-erosive nature, and non-abrasiveness, epoxy mortar paste has been used as a repairing paste in the hydropower industry.

Over the last few decades, epoxy resins have contributed immensely in the maintenance and protection of clean energy sources, helping them to become more efficient and productive.

Final Thoughts

While many argue that factors like a relatively high cost when compared to petroleum-based resins and conventional cement-mortar alternatives has affected the epoxy resin market growth, the fact remains that epoxy resin never fails to deliver top-notch and unmatchable results in the areas of application.