18 June 2021

To ensure the continuity of hot water and heating during emergencies or planned plant replacements, a bespoke mobile plant room unit has been built for Newport City Council. This unit included a 350kW Alpha Ares Tec commercial boiler, selected due to the output flexibility and reliability it could deliver as well as its compact dimensions and relatively low weight, making it ideal for a mobile application.
With a number of boiler replacements planned, Newport Norse, which manages property maintenance for Newport City Council, approached Alpha Heating Innovation with its requirements for a mobile plant room unit. Newport Norse was looking for a unit that could be towed easily to a site and connected quickly. The unit needed to meet both the heating and domestic hot water requirements of a wide range of buildings. Furthermore, the capacity of the boiler needed to be flexible enough to operate at a low output just as efficiently as at full capacity.
Alpha brought Metric Engineering on-board, a mechanical engineering specialist based in Plymouth, who had worked with Alpha to create its own fleet of mobile heating units. Metric Engineering used the existing design for Alpha, with a number of modifications, to meet Newport Norse’s requirements. This included the integration of components such as a plate heat exchanger, buffer vessel, controls and pipework to deliver domestic hot water capabilities. The use of the Alpha plate heat exchanger means the Ares Tec within the mobile unit will benefit from a ten year warranty.
Colin Smith, Contract Manager at Metric Engineering explained: “The Alpha Ares Tec was ideal for this mobile unit. Its compact dimensions and comparatively low weight meant it was easier to build into the required space and at the same time, keep the total weight of the trailer down – especially with the additional hot water components. In addition, the space we were able to maintain around the boiler means it will make it easy to service and maintain.
“The Ares Tec also offers a very high-level of modulation. The 350kW boiler we used is capable of running at just 12kW, delivering the required degree of flexibility that few alternative options could provide. The modular configuration of the Ares Tec was very important to provide a guarantee of reliability over the long term. With seven self-contained heating units within the boiler, if one drops out the boiler continues to function with only a small reduction in the maximum output.”
Flexibility was a key criteria. The mobile unit built for Newport City Council was designed with a bypass that allows it to be used on systems with and without a hot water return. In addition, the footprint of the trailer is among the smallest of any mobile plant room solution available. This means it is towable by any vehicle as the total weight is below three tonnes – ensuring it can be utilised in a variety of locations.
The mobile unit has already been used at Maindee Primary School in Newport. During the replacement of the boiler, it provided a reliable supply of hot water for handwashing and for use in the kitchen and toilets.
Gary Moore, Mechanical Design Engineer at Newport Norse commented: “We are very pleased with the finished result and it performed as we intended when deployed for the first time at Maindee Primary School. Having a reliable and flexible temporary heating and hot water solution means we can ensure minimal downtime and disruption for building occupants, even in an emergency.”
Following the success of the new mobile unit, Newport Norse and Newport City Council are considering the purchase of further units to increase their ability to respond to emergency requirements.