CalEnergy, part of BHE Renewables, operate 10 generating plants in the Salton Sea ‘Known Geothermal Resource Area’ in Southern California’s Imperial Valley. This active geothermal zone runs along the San Andreas Fault, where geologic forces allow the Earth’s natural heat to rise near the surface, creating one of the world’s most powerful geothermal hot spots. The energy reservoir extends beneath the Salton Sea, where underwater vents release steam that rises in boiling circles of bubbles on the lake’s surface. Geothermal production wells tap into superheated water reservoirs thousands of feet beneath the Earth’s surface to release tremendous pressure, caused by the hot water, which rushes to the surface. There, steam is separated and used to drive turbines to generate electricity.
The individual plants were developed between 1982 and 2000, and generate around 330MW of power. After operating for over 30 years, CalEnergy are investing more than $1 billion in improvements to its existing facilities to sustain its Salton Sea operations for another 30 years, as well as consider further capacity expansion. Langley Alloys has supplied large quantities of corrosion resistant alloys in plate form, predominantly Alloy 2205, used for the fabrication of pipework and treatment units. Whilst super duplex alloys such as Super Duplex Alloy 32750 have been used to replace the original Alloy 625 material, with significant savings, Alloy 2205 has shown to provide acceptable corrosion resistance in areas of the plant where the temperature of the geothermal fluid has dropped below 180degC/370degF.
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