Constructing and maintaining the technical infrastructure of a research station in the Antarctic
69° 24' 28.00" South, 76° 11' 14.00" East, near the Larsemann Hills in Princess Elizabeth Land, is the location of the Indian polar research station "Bharati". Reliable and robust infrastructure is required to be able to survive in an inhospitable environment. Caverion installed all the technical building services for the company KAEFER Construction Ltd from Bremen.
The contract – worth around EUR 9.5 million– also included the installation of a seawater desalination, drinking water treatment and a biological sewage treatment plant. Caverion also built a sick bay as well as a high-pressure fire extinguishing system. Kerosene-powered, redundant CHP plants with 100 kW(el) and a complete air conditioning system with 10,000 m³/h air distribution provide electricity and heat in the winter months when temperatures can drop to -40°C. The scope of work also included the entire audio, video and fire alarm system, a CO, CO2 and NO2 warning system, lighting and data cabling, including building automation.
Since the station was completed in 2012, Caverion building experts have serviced the technical systems once a year. For a period of four weeks, the workers are guests at the station and meticulously inspect all the building components.
"The researchers must be able to fully rely on the technology. A breakdown could have disastrous consequences," says Andy Sinn, Project Manager, explaining the particular challenges of the job.
This is the fifth time that Team Leader Lars Kleppisch has been part of the operations team. He doesn’t just see the complex technology as a challenge, but also the tight schedule: "All engineers have attended a special training course and various relevant workshops. The question is not actually whether or not a problem can be solved. Rather, the question playing on our minds is: can we get to grips with the problem before we need to leave again? People need to keep a cool head and continue to focus on their work."
Ultimately, the well-being of up to 47 inhabitants depends on fully functional infrastructure. In the winter months in particular, when the station is completely cut off from the outside world for several months, everything has to work perfectly to ensure that valuable discoveries can continue to be made in the barren environment.