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Going Green

April 2012

How Industrial Duct Systems along with Industrial Process Piping and Detroit Boiler helped Warren, Mich., become a model of eco-friendliness

No one would guess that the unassuming building sitting in a metro-Detroit industrial park housed a metal fabrication company that’s in the process of transforming the city of Warren, Mich., for the better. But the company in this unassuming concrete building did just that.

Enter Industrial Duct Systems, owned by Glenn Croft and specializing in ductwork and installation. The city of Warren needed help undertaking bold renovations to its sewage treatment plant that, when finished, should make it much more energy efficient. To get underway, Warren contracted with a company called Cogeneration Consultants to do the engineering aspects of the project and another company called Industrial Process Piping for the mechanical installation.

When Industrial Process Piping needed the ductwork completed for the project, they called Industrial Duct Systems.

“They had called Detroit Boiler and asked them, ‘Who do we use to do this?’,” recalls Croft. “And Detroit Boiler told them, ‘Call Industrial Duct Systems, they’re the best around – use them, they’ll get it done for you.’ So they called us.”

After that, Industrial Duct Systems, located on Groesbeck Highway in Roseville, Mich., began to work with Industrial Process Piping, helping them with the engineering and building work for the sewage treatment plant renovations.

In essence, the sewage treatment plant project aimed to harness the enormous amount of heated exhaust generated by the incinerator – 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit’s worth of heat – and turn it into electricity. Industrial Duct Systems’ job was to create the duct system that made harnessing this heat possible.

“By harnessing the exhaust, the generator is able to produce 25 percent of the total electricity requirements to operate the plant,” explains Croft. “That’s huge to be able to take a plant that size and to take its waste – just the waste – and create 25 percent of the overall required electricity to operate it. That 25 percent now becomes free energy.”

To accomplish this project, Industrial Duct Systems had to weld a massive amount of ductwork and then also install it. Doing so presented certain challenges.

“We had an existing facility [the plant] that was closed in, and it was really tight,” says Croft. “It was five levels of stairs that we had to climb up, and we had to really measure from where we were at the top and measure from where we were at the bottom and figure out how we were going to attach the first piece of duct.

“And then we had to figure out how that piece was going to set in there in correlation to the very top piece,” he explains. “We also had to make sure that it was going to clear all the structural members around it and where the coil section was going to go was going to fit properly with the pieces that we were making.”

Croft notes that looking at something on a drawing is conceptual. “The bid was based on our field dimensions,” he says. “But when we got there, the first thing that we noticed was a stanchion right in the center of the existing ductwork where our ductwork had to be attached. So we knew right off the bat that we had to change our plans, so revision number one came.”

Industrial Duct Systems had to go through several creative revisions before they could overcome the unique problems posed by obstructions resulting from the pre-existing plant structure.

“There was a series of floor grating after floor grating, and we had to make sure that the very top section of the ductwork was in perfect alignment with the bottom piece,” says Croft. “That’s really the challenge. But right now, we’re hopefully on the final revision.”

In order to weld the ductwork together, Industrial Duct Systems used Lincoln Electric and Miller Electric MIG welding equipment.

“We use MIG unless we’re doing a pressure vessel or we’re doing something that’s got to be absolutely watertight, because it’s filled up with water – then we’ll use stick,” explains Croft. “It has a tendency to not have as much porosity when you use stick welding.”

As far as the Lincoln Electric and Miller Electric equipment, Croft admits that he uses these companies partly because he’s simply partial to the brands.

“Really the only other manufacturer out there that I’m familiar with is Hobart, and I just grew up around Lincoln and Miller,” he says.

For the project, Croft used a Miller CT-302 MIG Runner and a Lincoln Idealarc CV-400 Portable Welder.

The project of welding the ductwork was completed using 316L grade or above wet wire and a standard 75/25 nitrogen/oxygen gas. Four certified welders worked on the project using the previously mentioned equipment.

Since this article was written, the sewage treatment plant renovation project is complete, and Warren has become a model of eco-friendliness, turning waste energy from the plant into green energy that can then be used to power the facility, thus cutting the plant’s power requirements by 25 percent.

Croft says that the city hopes the project will inspire other cities in Michigan to follow suit. If that ends up being the case, then Industrial Duct Systems will have had a large part in sparking a green technology revolution in Michigan.

Industrial Duct Systems
Lincoln Electric
Miller Electric