A Drop of Water

Rain water and other water sources drain into the nearby Etowah River, which has an average flow of about 1.6 billon gallons per day.

About 29 million gallons of water are pumped daily into a storage pond. Most of this is supplied to the cooling towers. Impurities are removed from a smaller amount for use in the boiler.

The purified water is pumped to the boiler, where it passes through tubes and is turned into steam at a very high pressure.

The steam is piped into the turbine, where it turns the blades of the giant turbine connected on a shaft to the generator.

Each turbine is powered by a boiler capable of producing more than 6 million pounds of steam per hour.

Magnets spin inside copper coils in the generator to produce electricity.

As steam turns the turbine blades, it loses pressure and flows into the condenser. The steam condenses on the outside of hundreds of cooling water tubes.

Drops of water fall to the bottom of the condenser and this purified water begins the close-loop steam cycle process again.

The warm water within the condenser tubes flows through the closed loop cooling system to the cooling towers. From there, it flows downward through fill material and is cooled by ambient air.

From the cooling tower, cool water is pumped back to the condenser where the cycle starts all over again.

Water from the process is constantly replenished from the storage pond so it can be re-circulated back to the condenser and used the condenser and used for cooling again. This re-circulated system significantly reduces the amount of fresh water pumped from the river.

All four cooling towers combined circulate 1.7 billion gallons of water per day in the continuous close-loop cycle. When the temperature of water is reduced in the cooling tower, some evaporates into the air.

Of the 29 million gallons of water withdraw daily from the river, about 15 million gallons of water evaporate from the four towers. Almost all of the water goes back to the river.

In addition to the water used in generation, a relatively small percentage is needed for transporting ash, supply the air emission scrubber, and providing service water at the plant.

The electricity is instantly fed through an adjacent transformer into high voltage transmission lines for distribution to customers statewide.