Ironton native providing power to Olympics

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 26, 2014

Next month the Winter Olympics will get underway in Sochi, Russia.

One of the key questions leading up to these games was if the city could muster enough power to support the millions of people who will converge on the coastal city.

An Ohio-based company, Modular Systems Security Inc., along with two other companies answered that question.

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“Our company modifies shipping containers for various uses,” said Ironton native and MSSI President, Rob Slagel. “Because of that we were contacted by another company called Enter1 to help on a project for the upcoming Olympics.”

The project called for the construction of a battery system to help power the Olympic Village in Sochi. Enter1 designed battery packs that could supply one-megawatt worth of power, but had no way to store or ship them.

“So that’s where we came in,” Slagel said. “We modified the containers for electrical use. So the finished product was an uninterrupted power supply system that’s 8 feet by 40 feet and weighs 90,000 pounds.”

Six of the modified containers will contain the UPS system while two more containers will be used to house a power control system.

“So in total you’re looking at six megawatts of power,” said MSSI engineer Matt Vonderheide. “These systems will ensure that all the power needed is available.”

The massive units presented several challenges, chiefly the issue of trying to make everything fit.

“That was our biggest issue,” Vonderheide said. “It was a struggle to get it all to fit in place in the containers. There were also some concerns of overheating.”

Cleveland-based, Parker Hannifin addressed the heating concerns and designed a cooling system for the units.

“That was the last thing to go in,” Slagel said. “We sent them to Indiana for the battery installation, then they were sent to have the cooling system installed before being shipped to Russia. It was really a three-way partnership.”

The UPS systems of this size are the first of their kind, an accomplishment that Vonderheide describes as surreal.

“They are really unique,” Vonderheide said. “To take something from a conceptional idea and see it through to inception is an incredible feeling.”

The units and the power they supply are so important to the Sochi games that Russian President Vladimir Putin inspected the systems firsthand.

“We were told that he was going to inspect them firsthand,” Slagel said. “That is kind of neat. The whole thing is just so global and the Olympics are so iconic that it’s a really special feeling to be involved.”

Opening ceremonies for the 2014 Winter Olympiad are scheduled to begin on Feb. 7, with the closing ceremonies commencing on Feb. 23. Throughout that entire time the UPS systems will be providing power to Sochi.