Wilson Hall to receive new emergency generator
|Fermilab obtained the current emergency generators in Wilson Hall as government surplus from the Korean War.
After close to 60 years in service, the emergency backup generators in Wilson Hall will retire this spring.
First used in the Korean War in the 1950s, Fermilab obtained the two generators in 1975 from government surplus and made them key components in the emergency power system in Wilson Hall. But after years of ever-increasing maintenance and questionable reliability, Fermilab will remove the two generators and replace them with a single, diesel-powered one.
“The generators run our fire pumps and are a very important safety unit in case of an emergency,” said Fermilab engineer Jim Niehoff. “Replacing the old generators with a single unit will greatly increase reliability.”
With funding provided by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, Fermilab purchased the new generator from Patten Industries, a local distributor for Caterpillar, for roughly $150,000. Fermilab awarded the contract for the excavation and removal of the old generators and the installation of the new one to Pandecon, Inc. in North Aurora for roughly $260,000.
Similar to the type of emergency generator that hospitals use, the new unit will provide emergency power to Wilson Hall for 24 to 36 hours, depending on the electrical demand in the building. “If the electricity gets cut off, the generator automatically comes on in 10 seconds,” said Greg Klyczek of Patten Industries.
A crew of 14 workers from Pandecon, Inc. will first remove the old generators and then install the new one, which weighs about 30,000 pounds and is roughly the size of a small train car. It will reside outside Wilson Hall, adjacent to the southwest corner of the building. Visual screening and landscaping will be added after the construction project is complete.
Excavation of the area is scheduled to begin next week. Drivers and pedestrians should take caution and be aware of the construction that will occur on the west side of the building.
Pandecon, Inc. expects to hook up the new generator in June.
-- Elizabeth Clements