Imperial College London

First year students visit campus power station


Students with one of the plant experts

On 9-10 January, all 176 first year Mechanical Engineering students visited the campus Combined Heat and Power (CHP) station.

The station provides electricity (8.8MW) and heat (sometimes over 30 MW) to the South Kensington Campus at Imperial College London. The system is over 80% efficient, which saves money and reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions compared to using electricity from the grid.

Students spent an hour touring the plant with experts and learning about how it works. They will now be able to use the power station within their curriculum.

Students in the plant listening to an expert

Here are a few comments from students on their visit:

“Just the glimpse I have seen shows me how important and essential Mechanical Engineering is in practical situations.”

“I gained a deeper appreciation for the real-life application of what we are currently learning in Thermodynamics and am looking forward to broadening my understanding of power generation now that we are currently learning about steady flow energy processes.”

“It’s exciting to see what engineers overcame on building a power plant: carbon emissions, efficiency (heat is reused) and so on. It’s also exciting as I realise I might have the ability [of] being those engineers after four years study in Imperial College.”

Students in the plant listening to an expert

“The biggest thing I took away from the tour wasn’t the verbal or visual information I received. It was the experience of walking through the plant. The vibrations of the engines; the deafening shrill they produced; the raging flames in the tanks; the overall heat of the plant. Being there certainly makes you have a healthy respect for what the CHP plant is, how it works and the engineering behind it.”

“We had a close look at the fire within the boiler through a small window located at the back, the blue flame growing in the darkness seemed mysterious, as if we are peering at a distant galaxy through a telescope.”

“I have never in my life been to a place like this. I was really mesmerised, I literally felt like stepping into a whole new world, where the world is sitting just right underneath the campus.”


Nadia Barbu

Nadia Barbu
Department of Mechanical Engineering

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