The expansion of the Panama Canal, whose work involved the Spanish company Sacyr Vallehermoso and Panama’s Constructora Urbana, allow the transit of vessels with three times the amount of cargo currently ply the known channel from October 2014.
“I think it will be one of the milestones in the engineering of this century,” said in Venice (northeastern Italy) Electromechanical manager of the work, the Spanish engineer Ametller Sergi, one of the consortium responsible for the United Group Canal (GUPC)-which also includes the Italian company Impregilo and Belgium’s Jan de Nul, which is responsible for building a third branch to join the two existing ones.
To achieve this it used 3.2 billion dollars to build two new channel outputs, one in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific, which will sail ships container loads of 12,600 and 366 meters in length, from a peak of 4,400 containers and 294 meters from the ships that pass through this important shipping route today.
Each of the fishing trips will consist of three water chambers closed with locks that will save the 27 meters between the two oceans and Lake Gatun, situated half-channel and following the operation of such systems, boats advance to equilibrate the water level between adjacent chambers.
According to project leaders, the expansion will allow a ship to pass through the waterfall on each side in about two hours and to complete its passage through the Panama Canal in an average of 10 hours and exceptionally eight.
The difficulty of extending the canal lies in the dimensions of the work, which will have 158 gates and 16-valve, weighing a total of 50,000 tons, which today are built in factories that the Italian company has in nearby Cimolai to Venice.
“The gates are the most technically complex project,” noted Ametller, who explained that, while those already installed in the channel are hinged, new trailers and altitude will be equivalent to a 20-story building, so that a good portion of its interior is empty so they can be dragged to close and open the camera.
As explained by the Spanish engineer, the gates operate in dual system to ensure that in case of breakdown, the branch continues to operate and have different sizes depending on the ocean side where you are located.
“The biggest will be on the Pacific side of the most seismic hazard and because the tides are higher,” noted the manager, who said that being with “100% European steel” from Italy, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Germany and Poland and to begin to move by boat to Panama – “fours” – during 2013 for testing in early 2014 and have completed the project on October 21, 2014.
The largest of these gates are 33 meters high and weighs 4,300 tons and the installation of these structures will begin on the Atlantic side once you have built the concrete base on which will be placed through a mechanism calculated to the millimeter by engineers designed enlargement.
A system side pools allow reuse 60% of water in each compartment, so as to reduce the total consumption by 7%, and the operation of the facility will be reviewed from numbers of control points.
Step of lake water to the compartments and between the pools shall be regulated through the 158 valves carmaker Hyundai being built in Korea.
The consortium estimates that a large freighter traffic through the Canal are needed 200 million liters of water but that the ship be “more efficient” and “fewer” on the other hand will have less impact than a larger number of smaller vessels, according to its environmental manager, Panamanian Luis Villarreal.
GUPC 99.6% should ensure the availability of navigation, or they could be penalized and even had to take over the maintenance of enlargement during the two years following the completion of works.
But officials of the consortium are optimistic because the project is “under constant audit” and “evidence” and has already completed 15% of the work of gates, so that the timetable deadlines fall, concluded Ametller.
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