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Reliable wireless communication in the wastewater treatment plant of the RWE power station in Neurath


Omnidirectional antenna on the circular scraper  

An omnidirectional antenna is installed on the circular scraper

  • The waste process water generated by the RWE power station in Neurath is treated in a dedicated wastewater treatment plant.
  • As part of a modernization drive, operators also wanted to be able to operate the wastewater treatment plant remotely.
  • Wireless technology and other components from Phoenix Contact help ensure that the plant operates flexibly and reliably.

Customer profile

Waste process water cleaning  

The power station's own wastewater treatment plant cleans the waste process water

RWE Power AG operates the Neurath power station in the south of Grevenbroich, Germany.

With an electric gross output of 4400 megawatts, it is the largest lignite-fueled power station in Germany and the second largest in Europe. The two new blocks with optimized system technology have an efficiency of 43%.


RWE Project Manager Stefan Strasser  

RWE Project Manager Stefan Strasser

A wastewater treatment plant on the power station site, which cleans the waste process water, was completely modernized in 2014. During the course of upgrading the electrical and control engineering, the independent controller that had previously been used as a blackbox system was removed and integrated into the Procontrol P14 control engineering from ABB.

The objective of the retrofit was to enable the wastewater treatment plant, which could previously only be operated on site, to be operated remotely. To do so, all areas had to be visualized on the monitors in the control room and process sequences had to be depicted in real time.

“Because of the continuous rotary movement of the circular scrapers and the limited number of slip rings, using a maintenance-prone slip ring package to transmit the feedback and control commands was out of the question,” says RWE Project Manager Stefan Strasser. Therefore he and his colleagues looked for a communication solution that was robust enough to fulfill the requirements for high availability of all system parts.


Control cabinet for the circular scrapers  

Central switchgear cabinet for the control engineering

“Since we already knew about the successful use of the Radioline wireless system at other RWE power stations, we got in touch with Phoenix Contact,” reports Strasser. During an on-site inspection, a radio frequency site survey was carried out in order to evaluate the signal strength and reliability of data exchange.

After all tests were completed with positive results, RWE employees began planning the wireless transmission paths with support from Phoenix Contact. Each of the four circular scrapers was to be given its own wireless system. The central switchgear cabinet for the P14 control engineering is housed in the pump house of the wastewater treatment plant. Furthermore, a large number of signals at different voltage levels needed to be forwarded on a floating basis by means of optocouplers.

After the planning phase was completed, the project was officially put up for bid and won by SAG GmbH, based in Cologne. This service and system supplier created the four control cabinets for the circular scrapers and the central switchgear cabinet for the control engineering in a workshop on the power station grounds. Then the stainless steel control cabinets with IP65 protection were installed in the wastewater treatment plant.

Due to the fact that the circular scrapers continuously move in a circular path, each of the control cabinets is equipped with an omnidirectional antenna. At the receiver on the pump house there is a total of four directional antennas. This achieves optimum signal strength, regardless of the current position of the circular scrapers. In order to protect the antenna system, RWE employees also installed surge protective devices from Phoenix Contact together with the control cabinets so as to ensure maximum availability. Redundant power supplies are also used. “In addition to the power supply units of the QUINT product range for converting voltages, we also use an active redundancy module to ensure that the failure of one power supply unit does not bring the entire system to a standstill,” reports Strasser.


“Starting up the Radioline modules proved to be really easy,” Strasser says in conclusion. “All we had to do was assign the radio modules to one another via a thumbwheel on the device. This sets a digital input to the same number as the associated output. Immediately the signals are distributed correctly throughout the system without the need for programming. After disconnecting and restoring the power supply, the wireless devices automatically find each other again within a few seconds. We were thrilled by this intuitive operation as well as the support we received from Phoenix Contact.”


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