MDC Advisor
April 2012
Volume 29
In This Issue
-- Japanese Nuclear Disaster: Black Swan Event or Engineering Design Error?

-- Marcellus Shale:  Energy Source or Fracking Mess?

-- Comparative Solar System Performance Analysis

Current Events
ASHRAE/Chicago Chapter Event,  Chicago, IL (April 10)   
The afternoon seminar was conducted by Mitch Swann, MDC® Engineer and ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer. Mitch's seminar, entitled
"Can't We All Just Get Along - Keeping Your Eye on the Prize Despite Getting Poked In It," explored the innovative use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in construction.
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ABA - Forum on the Construction Industry's Annual Meeting, 
Las Vegas, NV (April 26-28)  
Bob McCue, PE, MDC® Principal, is attending this years' program on the ever changing use of Project Delivery Systems on construction projects.
The program is entitled “Advanced Project Delivery—Improving the Odds of
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2012 Small Business Conference, Society of Military Engineers, Baltimore, MD (March 21) 
MDC® attended this forum focusing on small businesses as well as sustainability. Presentations included Best Practices in LEED, Net Zero Energy/Fossil Fuel Rules,
Pollution Prevention and Waste Minimization.
Get More Info 

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Fukushima Dai-Ichi: Black Swan Event or Engineering Design Error?
By Robert C. McCue, P.E.
MDCSystems® Consulting Engineer

Aerial View of Reactors Before Accident
Tsunami Triggers Destruction of Nuclear Reactors, Japan
On the afternoon of March 11, 2011 a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the coast of Japan triggering a massive tsunami that ravaged the country’s northern coast.  The images of the water moving at a rate of 500 miles per hour inland carrying boats, cars and entire buildings were gut-wrenching. 
In the path of the destruction were six nuclear reactors at Fukushima. The reactors were automatically shut down (SCRAMMED1) on the sensing of the earthquake and the installed emergency shutdown systems operated to allow the reactors to begin the process of cool-down.
About 40 minutes after the shutdown, the tsunami waves  reached the Fukushima complex. The waves engulfed the plants with over 18 feet of water sweeping over Units One, Two, Three and Four. Units Five and Six were constructed after One through Four and they were sited about 15 feet higher in elevation, resulting in about three feet of water covering those units at grade level. At the time of the earthquake Units One, Two, and Three were operating; Units Four, Five, and Six were previously shut down for maintenance and refueling. 

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Marcellus Shale: Future Energy Source or Fracking Mess?
By Donald R. Keer, PE
MDCSystems® Consulting Engineer
Tower for drilling into Marcellus Shale Formation The Marcellus Shale natural gas deposit is currently the focus of intense exploration and development that could provide energy for the entire U.S. for the next 100 years.  As with any development of an energy source the level of activity is dependent on the ultimate retail price of the delivered energy.  In recent months the supply of natural gas has outstripped the demand resulting in a slight slowdown in activities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia.  As with other energy sources, eventually the economics will again favor aggressive development of this resource.
Despite the attractiveness of natural gas the development of the Marcellus Shale deposit is limited by the ability of developers to manage the large quantities of water required to complete the wells.  The issue has such a high public profile that the EPA is aggressively conducting studies and analysis together with other federal, state and local agencies to determine the impact and options for water treatment.

Comparative Solar System Performance Analysis
By Amal Kabalan, LEED A.P. 
MDCSystems® Consulting Engineer
Preliminary Analysis of an Industrial Photovoltaic System and Comparison of Its Performance with a Wind Energy System and a Fuel Cell Power System

The purpose of this article is to test the feasibility of installing a Photovoltaic (PV) System on an industrial facility and then compare its costs to both a Wind Turbine and Natural Gas Fuel Cell system. A model that predicts the energy which a Photovoltaic (PV) System can generate in a certain location based on insolation data and shading will be used. The model also calculates the savings and the pay-back period based on current state subsidies and federal tax incentives. The article will start by describing the project and will simulate the energy expected from the solar panels. The article will then proceed to compare the power output and the cost of a Photovoltaic System to that of a Wind Energy System and a Fuel Cell Power System.

Solar System Analysis

The example industrial location is located in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, which is 40 miles west of Philadelphia. Due to its proximity to Philadelphia, it is reasonable to consider that it has the same latitude, longitude and weather conditions to that of Philadelphia for the purpose of the analysis. Latitude is 39.88 and longitude 75.25. Elevation is 6 meters. Figure 1 shows the location of the facility (B) in correspondence to Philadelphia (A). The facility has south and north exposures. The orientation is shown in Figure 2 (above).
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