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Case Studies

Energy Saving Potential Identified for Master Blaster Water Ride

Anna Ellam

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CENTRAL GROUP WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

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The Master Blaster water ride is one of the main attractions at Alton Towers Waterpark.  Visitors travel at breath-taking speeds around the twists and turns, blasted up and down the ride which travels around the entire waterpark.

Already working on a wider energy saving project at the Waterpark, on behalf of Centrica Business Solutions, Central’s lead appraisal engineer noticed there was another opportunity for Alton Towers Resort to make further savings on the Master Blaster ride. There was also the benefit of reducing operational wear and tear on seven of the 55kW pumps used to power the ride.

As part of Centrica Business Solutions’ wider project, Central Group had already provided an energy saving solution on a total of 47 pumps used throughout the rest of the Waterpark complex.

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THE SOLUTION

A total of 7 pumps are used to operate the Master Blaster ride; 5 in duty with 2 on standby and regularly cycled between to prevent excessive use. Alton Towers’ management were originally sceptical about interfering with the operation of the ride as previous attempts had been made by other drive manufacturers to provide a solution and reduce their energy usage using VSDs. None had been successful as the pumps were controlled by a complicated, interconnected pipework system. The other main issue was being able to fit the inverters on-site without interfering with the operational hours of the waterpark.

The team from Central discovered that each pump flow was controlled by a valve which was 50% shut, making it a prime candidate for the retro-fitting of inverter. To run all pumps at full capacity would send too much water through the ride, hence the use of the valve to slow the pressure, however Central’s solution was to open the valve fully and instead use an inverter on each pump to control the water flow. This would not only reduce wear on the pump but would also save electricity; every 10% of speed reduction would equate to approximately 30% energy saving.

With this being one of Alton Towers’ main waterpark rides, concern was raised as to the safety of the project, so a series of strict tests were carried out prior to the ride being opened to the public. A drive was fitted to each pump but before they went into operation a flow meter was used to check and measure the rate of water of each individual pump. The flow was then matched identically with the valve opened up fully by means of reducing the speed of the pump via the inverter.

Under a strict test environment, the flow readings for each of the 7 pumps were logged both with the valves in their existing positions and also when the valves were fully open and then the flow controlled by the drive. This was done to ensure that there was no interference with the performance of the ride.


BENEFITS

Previous solutions provided by alternative suppliers had suggested the complete replacement of all 7 pumps, which would have resulted in a very long and complicated job and considerable down time for the ride. The solution provided by Central improved the life of the existing equipment, making it work more effectively and efficiently, and resulted in no downtime.

A saving of nearly 300,000 kw/hr has been made in a 12 month period; the energy saving equivalent to 7,666 energy saving lightbulbs.