Science4Us team visits Wheelabrator team to talk Electricity

In our most exciting and exhausting outing yet, the Science4Us team got the opportunity to go behind the scenes and visit with the team at Wheelabrator North Broward!

Science4Us Team in the Control Room at Wheelabrator North Broward

If you’ve never heard of Wheelabrator Technologies, you may be surprised to hear about what they’re doing… even though they’ve been doing it for about 20 years. Since we knew about it, we just had to visit, so we could highlight it in our Electrical Energy module in the Energy Unit. It turned out, they were as excited to have us visit as we were to visit! And we were REALLY excited!

“The Wheelabrator”, as they’ve become fondly known by our team, burns trash to generate electricity! Plant Engineer Kyle Moran took us on a four hour tour… a four hour tour… of the plant and we loved every second of it. He took us through the water lab where we met Chris, the lab tech, who performed some cool chemistry experiments for us(and kept us laughing). Then we met Rick, Lead E&I Tech at Wheelabrator North Broward, who explained to us what “E&I” meant (and kept us laughing).

Our next stop was the highlight of the tour, especially for one of us. The crane pulpit was where we met Dan, a crane operator at Wheelabrator North Broward. We all stood mesmerized as Dan showed us what he does all day. Scooping up the right mixture of garbage in a “grapple” (a huge claw like in a claw machine!) which holds about three and a half tons of garbage, the amount an average family throws away in a year, Kyle tells us, and dropping it into a gravity fed hopper, which leads to a furnace where it gets burned. Cathy, who just wanted to work the crane, got the opportunity and was able to dump about 7 tons of garbage. Taking out the trash never made anyone so happy!

Cathy, working the crane with Dan

Next, we moved on to the Control Room and met Ken, the Plant Operator. Ken monitored a wall full of screens and explained to us what they were all telling him. He also let us tag along as he did a visual inspection of their three HUGE furnaces. It was really cool!… well, not literally.

From there, Kyle took us off the beaten (tour) path and we got to meet some other great people, like Jim the plant manager, Brenda the welder and Mark the warehouse manager.

And we got to see an extra grapple and how big they really are!

Standing in front of 'the Claw' or Grapple

Four hours after we found our way to Wheelabrator North Broward, we were still smiling and inundating Kyle with questions, which he answered all of graciously. We walked in curious and walked out as fans.

We are certain that this will be a fun, thought-provoking segment for the young users of Science4Us and maybe even for their parents and teachers!

Thanks to Kyle and all of the other great people at Wheelabrator Technologies! If you’re lucky enough to live near a Wheelabrator plant, I highly recommend a tour.

A special note of thanks goes to Melissa, in New Hampshire at Wheelabrator HQ, for getting this all set up for us! Thanks Melissa!