The 981-mile Ohio River requires periodic improvements to the waterway’s transportation infrastructure. The last of its 1920s-original locks and dams are now being replaced by the Olmsted Dam and Lock, crossing from Pulaski County, Ill. to Ballard County, Ky.
The $350 million Olmsted project will feature a new method of dam construction. Without halting the flow of the river, piles will be driven in the river bottom and rebar cages will be placed on the bottom around the piling. Large concrete shells measuring about 100 by 125 ft are built on the shore, and then picked up by a catamaran barge, which carry them into the river to piles where they are filled with concrete. Each shell stands as high as 30 feet tall and weighs as much as 3,700 tons.
As the shells are carried, their weight and movement must be carefully balanced. A pumping system is required to control ballast and de-ballast duty in the barge’s eight ballast tanks. To help solve this marine balancing act, the shipbuilder constructing the barge reached out to Beckwith & Kuffel (B&K), an ITT Goulds pump distributor based in Washington State, with extensive experience in the marine industry.
The pumps specified for this service were ITT Goulds brand, 10” axial flow pumps with 50 HP motors. Each pump was equipped with an ITT PumpSmart PS75 VFD control system in order to control the bi-directional operation of the pumps. Adarsh Iyengar, a Sr. PumpSmart Application Engineer, remarked that “with this pumping system, you have to open or close a series of valves depending on whether you want to ballast or de-ballast. In the event a suction or discharge valve failed to open, the pump is going to be running dry. Dry running a pump could quickly cause permanent damage to the pump. PumpSmart recognizes the condition immediately and either alarms or shuts down the pump.