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A Layman Fixing a Power Plant Problem
Old 08-08-2014, 12:33 PM   #1
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A Layman Fixing a Power Plant Problem

Here's another scenario in my book that I need help with.

70% of Earth's population has died (bodies dry up, so disposal isn't a top priority). In a small town in Maine, an eighty-year-old woman has taken over for the dead sheriff.

She goes to the small hydroelectric power-generation plant, and finds the sole operator dead. An alarm is flashing with a countdown display indicating that she has 40 minutes to fix the problem. She calls an engineer who talks her through a fix for the problem.

Anyone know of a physical problem that could fit this bill? This is the kind of thing I'm looking for:
“You’re going to need to perform a manual switchover between the overvoltage quad phase regulators.”
“Can I do that, whatever it is, in time?”
“Maybe. Are you good with electronic devices?”
“At home, my DVD player is flashing 12:00, does that answer your question? What happens if I can’t fix this?”
Blah blah.

Thanks.


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Old 08-08-2014, 01:05 PM   #2
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Since there are mass casualties, let the hydro damn be overflowing with water, since there weren't operators to open the gates to let water flow through and produce electricity. Due to the rainy season the water has overflowed so much, it's partially eroding the ground base around some of the damn anchors.

Rather than it being a time-based dilemma, consider sensors that measure the ground-bearing strength or some other status of the anchors in the damn, where if the ground isn't giving it enough support, the damn could start weakening to the point of giving way and washing out everything in its path.

Something kind of similar happened to a power plant storage lake in Missouri a few years ago (the sensors misread water levels, and combination of heavy rains and water overflowing the earthen lake walls washed out the wall and out flowed over a billion gallons of water):

Four years after disaster, Ameren says Taum Sauk is “as fail safe as you can get” (AUDIO)
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Old 08-08-2014, 04:00 PM   #3
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I can't help with your question, Al, but this is certainly going to be an interesting book!
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Old 08-08-2014, 04:09 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
70% of Earth's population has died
Can't help with the question, but being an introvert I am already liking this book!
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Old 08-08-2014, 04:28 PM   #5
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Can't help with the question, but being an introvert I am already liking this book!
Careful Walt! There are number of good science fiction stories about people who get what they are asking for.
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Old 08-08-2014, 06:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by MooreBonds View Post
Since there are mass casualties, let the hydro damn be overflowing with water, since there weren't operators to open the gates to let water flow through and produce electricity. Due to the rainy season the water has overflowed so much, it's partially eroding the ground base around some of the damn anchors.
Or, the dead bodies could be plugging the turbine inlet strainers (normally for aquatic life). The dam is overflowing and she has to open the emergency by-pass (no strainers) before the increased strain and undermining of the sides of the dam compromises the dam. Strain gauges are very common:

Strain gauge - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 08-09-2014, 08:48 AM   #7
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I would think she would need to take down turbine number two. So many power lines have gone down that there is too much power. Slowly close the inlet valve on station three ( it would be a pneumatic controlled valve) until the power output drops below 10% then flip the disconnect breaker.
Or something like that
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