Sherritt’s Energas Joint Venture combined cycle power facility at Boca de Jaruco in Cuba takes in sea water for the purpose of cooling. In recent years, the seawater intake inlet has been inundated with a brown seaweed known as Sargassum. Sargassum is a nuisance in the Caribbean due to larger than historically recorded blooms that impact sea-life and tourism. Unfortunately, seaweed is not the only debris impacting the coastline. Man-made objects, including plastic pollution, can also be prevalent depending on tides and weather conditions.
For Energas, the Sargassum creates problems during water intake, fouling up integral equipment in the power facility that provides necessary power to the city of Havana. For operations to continue, a solution had to be engineered. A seaweed intake channel barrier was installed to prevent the buoyant weeds from gaining access to the channel near the circulation pumps. Along with this intake channel barrier, a floating seawater basket has been implemented at one end of the barrier to allow the buoyant weeds to funnel into this basket. Additional barriers, as well as a trash rake and screens, provide added protection from any debris making it past the initial barriers.
The seaweed and debris is then collected and hauled by truck to the local landfill and disposed of by the municipality in a regulated facility. In 2019, approximately 30 truckloads, or 800 m3, of Sargassum and ocean debris were removed from the inlet canal area. While access to debris-free water is an important operational consideration, we are proud to also positively impact the coastline adjacent to where we work.