Energy Recovery Station at Transalpine Pipeline (TAL): From a Vision to an innovative Crude Oil Pipeline Power Plant (Design – Construction – Operation)
Markus Mühlmann
Markus Mühlmann, Markus Klingenschmid, Dietmar Lehner
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At the TAL-IG, starting at Adriatic-sea-level at Trieste (Italy) and crossing the main Alpine Ridge at Felbertauern (1,573 m) in Austria, slackline conditions occur in the steep downhill sections. Slackline sections are pipeline sections downstream from mountains which are not only totally filled with liquid crude oil but contain both crude oil in liquid and vaporized form.

As the pipeline is hydraulically split into two sections with quite different hydraulic behavior, slackline sections pose operational challenges. Slacklines monitoring and leak detection is significantly more difficult and partly not even possible. Until the installation of an energy recovery system, the potential energy of the crude oil flow used to be lost and dissipated into thermal energy heating up the oil, the pipeline itself and the soil along the pipeline’s right of way.

With the energy recovery station Taimeralm, the world’s first crude oil power plant, some seven pipeline kilometers downstream of the highest point of Felbertauern, the dissipated energy is recovered by a Francis turbine in a packed line section at Amertal. With a nominal power of about 2.5 MW, an annual energy recovery potential of about 11.5 GWh is possible. This corresponds roughly to some energy savings of about 12% of the yearly energy demand of the TAL-pipeline in Austria. This is equal to the annual power demand of approx. 3,000 single family homes whilst also significantly improving the leak detection by avoiding a slackline in the section Amertal.

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