This week we look at what 'powers' Macca

Keeping the lights on

While it is often said an army marches on its stomach, and an Antarctic station is fuelled by our superb chefs, in a more literal sense we have a special house that powers the station, the “Power House”.

Being 1500 km from the Tasmanian power grid we have to make our own electricity and this is the job of our Station Mechanical Supervisor (Dieso) Gary (Gaz). One of Gaz’s primary focuses is maintaining the generating sets in our two power houses. We have two power houses because power is critical to our survival and prosperity - a “main” power house (MPH) that usually hums along day to day and an “emergency” power house (EPH) that’s on standby to kick into action at a moment's notice.

This week Gaz took one of the Caterpillar engines apart to replace the high pressure diesel fuel injectors, a good chance to give the sets in the EPH a run and make the MPH (that’s usually a deafening roar) a nice quiet place to work.

Work in the power house isn’t all left to Gaz, team sparky look after the electrical distribution and are always willing to give a hand. Another clever Antarctic contraption is the heat exchanger system. This system (which the plumbers maintain) diverts the waste heat from the engines into pipes around station as hot water for heating, very efficient.

As well as the power house Gaz also looks after all the mechanical equipment, earthmoving plant and our armada of watercraft (inflatable rubber boats); all extremely valuable assets on Macquarie Island – thanks Gaz!