British Salt has this week fired up two new boilers for the first time at their manufacturing site on Cledford Lane in Middlewich. Almost exactly 12 months on from the day Middlewich town centre stopped to watch a giant convoy with two 90 tonne boilers being carefully moved through the streets, British Salt’s major £8m project is nearing completion.
Likened to a heart transplant operation by Project Manager Stewart Prentice, the boilers are the beating heart of British Salt’s manufacturing process, providing steam used to generate electricity to power the site and the heat required for the salt making process. The new boilers replace those installed nearly 50 years ago when the site was first built. Far more energy efficient, they will lower emissions from the plant below current and future regulatory standards, producing less than half the NOx emissions and reducing the carbon footprint of the site.
Since the delivery in November 2019, the project team has been hard at work installing the boilers with state-of-the-art control systems that will make their operation highly automated. Despite coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, progress on the project continued over the spring and summer. Working closely with over 20 contractors, many drawn locally from Cheshire and Merseyside, the team has implemented new methods of working to ensure that social distancing measures could be observed.
In the past week, the project team lit the boilers for the first time and started testing steam production as part of a carefully managed programme. The testing involves producing steam at lower volumes and building up to full operational levels to prove the new heart of the plant is ready to take the load without missing a beat. Once ready, the manufacturing plant will then switch over from the old plant, which will be on standby for a period of time to provide back up.
The £8m investment sanctioned by British Salt’s parent company, Tata Chemicals Europe, is the largest single investment in the plant since it was first built in 1969. With an operational life of 30 years, the new boilers have secured the future of salt production in the area for the foreseeable future, supporting hundreds of local jobs. The story does not end there though as Tata Chemicals Europe and British Salt are working on plans for further exciting investments in the plant as demand for high purity salt products continues to be strong from customers across the world.
Projects Director, Ladan Iravanian, said: “2020 has been a really challenging year to deliver projects as the pandemic has disrupted normally stable supply chains and meant we’ve had to find new ways of working. Despite this, our project team and our contractors have worked extremely hard to ensure we deliver this major investment. It’s great to see the testing of the new boiler plant kick-off and we’re excited to integrate the new plant into our existing manufacturing operations.
“We are now looking to the future again and considering how we can how we can invest in our British Salt operations to meet global demand for our high quality, high purity salt products.”
This story featured in the Winsford and Middlewich Guardian on the 7th November 2020 and can also be seen here: