Kastalon Lands Assist as Spawning Traffic is Restored

Kastalon products help to restore the natural migration of spawning fish in the majestic rivers of the Cascade Mountains, while maintaining the source of green energy from the dams.

Alsip, IL–Looking down from the Cascade Mountains at the three majestic rivers rambling through the picturesque countryside in central Oregon, no one would ever suspect that the salmon and steelhead were swimming their way up those rivers for the first time since 1968.

Although a series of dams, built in the early 1960’s, created a dynamic resource for hydro-power, the fish passage system built into the design proved unsuccessful for the fish to find their way downstream for migration.

Through a unique partnership, the co-owners of the dams, Portland General Electric (PGE) and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, spent several years developing a plan to improve the habitat for the fish.

The Barnard Construction Company and a team of engineers from CH2M Hill were commissioned by PGE and the tribes to design a system that would allow fish to be redirected for successful spawning migration without disrupting the source of green energy from the dams.

The unique solution involved constructing a 273-foot underwater tower and floating bridge from the floor of Lake Billy Chinook above the Round Butte Dam.

This massive structure’s one-of-a-kind design modified the current and temperature to mimic the natural conditions of the river for successful fish collection while maintaining water flow for power generation.

With the new collection station, the fish are efficiently transported downstream so they can continue on to the Columbia River and out to the ocean.

A key element of this project was determining a design for equalizing/dampening connectors that would join the floating apparatus with the stationary structure. These arrestors had to allow a full range of motion but provide predictable stability that could absorb storm forces and withstand seismic pressure.

After an extensive search, the engineers found Kastalon Polyurethane Product’s long-standing reputation for engineered to fit solutions to be a good choice to partner in the design and development of these unique polyurethane arrestor connectors.

Kastalon, a second generation family-owned business located outside of Chicago, accepted the challenge of providing a unique design and chemistry of polyurethane with the mechanical and physical properties that would give the strength and life expectancy the project required.

Today, after nearly two years of design, testing, and construction, the massive underwater tower and fish collection station rises from the floor of Lake Billy Chinook. For the first time since 1968 the migratory cycle for the fish has been restored without disturbing the hydro-power being provided to the region.

With improved habitat and downstream passage, the juvenile Chinook salmon and steel head can now return to their native spawning grounds and complete their natural cycle.

Helping Gentle Giants

Design engineers rely on specially formulated monolithic urethane to protect manatees from injury and death.

Endangered manatees are getting a helping hand from design technology. Thanks to the efforts of engineers at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution and the materials technology at Kastalon Inc. , these gentle creatures have a better chance of staying alive. The Florida manatee is one of the most threatened marine animals in the United States. They are often killed by collisions with boats or from entrapment in man-made structures. In fact, only a few thousand of these friendly “sea cows” can be found in the shallow rivers, bays, canals, and coastal areas of the Florida peninsula.

South Florida Water
Management, which operates a series of remote controlled gates that regulate the water level in its vast system of canals, knew more had to be done to save these sea wonders. The canals, full of warm brackish water, attract numerous manatees. Finding warm water is a matter of survival for them. If manatees remain in the Gulf of Mexico after the water turns cold, they risk catching a fatal respiratory illness. However, the warm waters of the canals can also prove fatal to the slow-moving manatee. The vertical gates that regulate water flow between the canals and ocean are unmanned. Manatees, which measure about 12 feet long and weigh about 1,000 pounds, are often trapped when the 20- to 33-foot-wide gates close. Since no one is around to rescue them, the manatees die. Making matters worse is the turbulent flow of water through the gates, which carries all manner of debris from floating branches to illegally discarded washing machines.

Fortunately, seven sophisticated manatee protection systems are currently in place in the canal system, and an additional 13 have been contracted. These systems are sensitive enough to detect the soft body of a manatee and yet are not prone to false alarms triggered by debris.

The first system was installed on the Miami Canal in 1996. “This site had the worst record of manatee mortality before the system was installed,” recalls Larry Taylor, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution’s EE production manager and the project manager for manatee protection systems. “Since the system has been online, there has not been another injury.”

The engineers at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution invented the manatee protection system after extensive testing of various alarm mechanisms. Called the Manatee Piezo-Electric Detector bumper system, it allows the vertical gates, which move at a fixed speed of 6 inches per minute, to gently contact the manatee, stop, and then reverse without harming the animal. The system’s sensor is sensitive enough to distinguish between a large object being violently pushed into the bumper and a manatee caught in the lowering gates. In addition, the unique shape of the bumper protects the sensor from impact.

“The bumper sensor design provides an extremely sensitive detector for the endangered manatee while including the ruggedness required for the industrial submerged environment,” says Taylor. “Kastalon provided the custom molding capability and the perfect materials for us to meet the required 10-year service life of this system.”

Kastalon, a manufacturer of polyurethane components located outside Chicago, developed the durable material needed for the bumper system. It’s a specially formulated monolithic urethane engineered to withstand years of continuous submersion in brackish water as well as impact from surging water and moving debris. Designed to offer mechanical properties stronger and more durable than rubber, it also resists both UV rays and salt water.

During a demonstration of the manatee protection system, a plump tomato was used to simulate a manatee. When light pressure was applied to the tomato, the system activated without damaging the tomato. More important, the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution has confirmed dozens of cases in which a manatee has been spared from injury or death.
“Although a good design is always rewarding to an engineer, saving an endangered animal really makes this project special,” says Taylor.

More information on polyurethanes and urethanes is available by contacting Kastalon Inc., 4100 W. 124th Place, Alsip, IL 60803 or calling (708) 389-2210. www.kastalon.com

Mining uncovers polyurethane advantages

One of the by-products of mining involves displacing huge amounts of dirt so it only seems natural that the type of equipment that is used is coined “earth movers”. Equally as logical is the fact that the OEM’s for these types of equipment must consider certain protection from the abrasive nature of dirt and vibration. For many years, Kastalon has engineered a proprietary polyurethane formula specifically for these types of applications.

Recently, a new mining challenge was given to the Kastalon designers for their problem solving. When reeling in a 4″ diameter steel cable, protection was needed to prevent the cable from banging into the steel structure of the equipment. Historically, wood blocks had been used to shield the cable from damage. The downside was that the wood splintered and broke easily. This created a housekeeping mess which required additional labor to clean-up and replace the blocks. If the operators did not take the time for the necessary maintenance, the steel cable would get damaged from banging into the steel structure which shortened the life of the cable.

Using the same proprietary Kastalon Polyurethane® formula used for other mining applications, the designers presented an engineered polyurethane pad that had a much longer life than the wood blocks it was replacing. In fact, the first set lasted over two years, which was unprecedented. The other advantage was that when the pads did need to be replaced, they were easily replaceable.

To learn more about Kastalon mining solutions or to contact a designer for a project that needs improvement, contact Lyn at sales@kastalon.com.