Coal dust or hydrogen leak could have caused major power outage

28 May 2021

Coal dust or a hydrogen leak could be the cause of the Callide Power Station fire that triggered major power outages across Queensland this week.

That's according to CQUniversity's Professor in Mechanical Engineering' Mohammad Rasul' who is the founder of the Clean Energy Academy at the University.

Providing some insight into how power outages like this occur' Professor Rasul said this week's power station fire and power outage could have happened from coal dust ignition.

"According to CS Energy the recent power outage happened at Callide Power Station because of fire and an explosion in one of the plant's four turbines hall'"

said Professor Rasul.

"At the Callide Power Station' the outage was due to an explosion which can happen from coal dust ignition.

"When a fire ignites' oxygen' fuel' and heat is merged into the fire triangle which is a cause of explosion. This is triggered because of dispersion of confined dust."

He said another possible cause could be a hydrogen leak from the generator.

"There are many power stations that use hydrogen cooled generators. About 99.9 per cent hydrogen purity is needed to not to have an explosion.

"If a mechanical break happens in a turbine blade (due to a crack)' that can cause mechanical failure because it has high pressure and temperature.

"Turbine and generator relate to the shaft that can impact generator rotor breakage and subsequently hydrogen leak.

"When leaked hydrogen mixes with oxygen an explosion can happen through ignition."

Professor Rasul said although this week's power outage was caused by a serious situation' power outages can happen at power plants for a variety of reasons including weather events' equipment failures' distribution and transmission failures and insufficient electricity generation.