An eco-production plant for helicopter engines

The brand-new “Joseph Szydlowski” helicopter engine production plant in Bordes, southwest France, was inaugurated on June 22, 2010 by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and is a showcase for the widespread use of renewable energies.

One of the defining characteristics of Joseph Szydlowski, the founder of Safran group company Turbomeca, was his focus on innovation. The company's eponymous new plant continues this tradition, since it is a real model of sustainable industrial development. Based on industry norms and environmental requirements, the plant was entirely "eco-designed" and is constructed according to High Quality Environmental (HQE) standards.

Alternative energies
The energy required to operate the plant is mainly produced by a wood-fired boiler! Generating some 3 MW of energy, this system covers up to 90% of the plant's energy needs, considerably reducing its environmental impact. Another advantage is that the heat generated costs 40% less than a comparable natural gas installation. However, to ensure a dependable energy supply, there are also two gas-fired boilers as backup, one fitted with a hybrid burner than can also use diesel fuel.

Let there be light

Both workshops and offices make ample use of natural lighting, with translucent panels accounting for about 20% of the roof's surface area, an approach that also helps cut electricity consumption by 40 to 50% compared to a similarly sized building using more conventional lighting. To reduce energy losses and provide better light diffusion, the air that is usually present between the three polycarbonate layers in these panels was replaced by a silica gel, Nanogel. Light fixtures in the workshops provide supplementary lighting, with levels adjusted automatically by sensors according to external light conditions.
To avoid unnecessary consumption, office machines are fitted with presence detectors to turn off these devices when people leave their offices. Furthermore, the plant has been fitted with a centralized, real-time management system for all machines that either consume or produce energy. This makes it easy to efficiently manage the energy supply for all installations, depending on demand, whether day, night or weekend, and weather conditions.

Another environmental benefit is water management at the plant: a closed-loop system has been set up for water used throughout the site, thus significantly reducing the amount taken from groundwater reserves.