MMA Engineers Power Up Jackson Lab
After we featured MMA alumni who work at The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) in the last Mariner (Issue 2, 2019), Luke Damon, Utility Plant Assistant Chief Engineer at JAX, wrote to us with more information on the engineering side of the operation. —Ed.s
I joined JAX in 2011 for a Per Diem job after returning home from working on LNG regasification tankers at sea. I was looking for something productive to do in my off time and surprised by how big JAX was and what a decent career it offered for marine and power engineers. I was able to take the skills I gained from my maritime experience and apply them to the lab’s Process/Heating/Power plant that was right in my “backyard.”
I am proud that 12 out of 14 full- and part-time plant engineers at JAX are MMA alumni. Another MMA engineering alumnus is a Building Automation Specialist in the maintenance group.
When I tell people I work at The Jackson Laboratory, many ask if I’m a scientist or work with mice. It is less known that JAX has two steam plants in Hancock County, each with an around-the-clock crew of engineers. We also have a steam plant in California and a high-tech facility in Connecticut.
The JAX utility plants employ as many or more MMA alumni than the other JAX departments combined, in the most traditional role for MMA marine and power engineers. Employment here is an easy transition role for sailors coming home from sea who are used to operating and maintaining all systems onboard. Our plant is run more like a sea-going vessel as opposed to most shore side facilities with segregated duties and responsibilities. We have an excellent balance for engineers who like to turn wrenches and maintain the plant they operate.
The plant in Bar Harbor alone has seven boilers capable of producing 140,000 #/hr @ pressures of 300 psi and 85 psi. Our flagship boiler is a suspended combustion wood dust unit, the only one of its kind on the continent. It runs at 300 psi and drops to campus line pressure of 85 psi through a back pressure turbine generator and then supplies steam for process equipment and heating loads.
Along with this small 600kW steam turbine generator, we oversee four 35 series Caterpillar generators producing emergency power for the Bar Harbor campus. We also have four 480VAC diesel generators capable of an additional 1.0MW for critical buildings and behind-transformer support.
We run and maintain a large chilled water plant as well, with nine chillers rated at more than 6,100 tons of capacity for almost 800,000 square feet of building space. These boilers, generators, chillers, associated auxiliary equipment and miles of steam, condensate, and chilled water lines and vaults are our responsibility. Plus, we’re also first responders to any and all alarm conditions across the rest of campus, which makes the job versatile and interesting.█
Photo: courtesy of Luke Damon