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The Energy and Technology Museum was established in the first central power-station of Vilnius. You have the chance to get acquainted with authentic equipment of the power-station, which had been used for almost 100 years, in the expositions of the museum. The first central power-station of Vilnius started its operation on February 14th 1903. Electric power was produced until 1963. The power-station supplied steam and hot water to the citizens and enterprises later. Operation of the power-station was stopped in 1998, and The Energy and Technology Museum was opened commemorating the 100th anniversary of the power-station in 2003. Nowadays, the buildings and authentic equipment of the first central power-station of Vilnius are considered to be the technological heritage protected by the state.
There are 2 types of steam boilers in the power-station: gas and coal fired steam boilers. You can see two gas fired steam boilers, which were built in 1973 and 1972 (No. 4 and No. 3), here. The manifold of the power-station was painted in differed colours which denoted various materials which flowed inside: yellow pipes were for gas, green – hot water and red – steam produced in the steam boiler. Black pipes were for fuel oil, which, in case of interrupted gas supply, could be used as an alternative fuel for the power-station.
You are inside the steam boiler, in the furnace. The operating steam boiler was completely hermetic and it did not have the entrance which you can see now. The pressure inside the steam boiler was 13 atmospheres and the temperature was 1,400 degrees. You can see three red lamps on the wall. When the steam boiler operated, three torches used to burn instead of these lamps; they used to heat the water which flowed in the narrow pipes. The heated water used to rise, turn into steam, then it was returned to the steam boiler for superheating and was supplied to the steam turbines later. The steam produced in the boiler was especially dry and heated up to 370 degrees. You can see two small windows in the boiler as well; these were the observation holes with the help of which the gas burning process could be observed and controlled from the outside of the boiler. Gas fired steam boilers were installed in the power-station after 1961, when an industrial gas pipeline was built in Vilnius. The steam boilers of the power-station used to be coal fired until then.
This steam boiler was installed in the power-station before the Second World War and was coal or peat fired. Coal for the power-station was supplied from Vilnius railway station by horse carriages until 1940. A special narrow-gauge railway was built to supply coal later. In 1944, when the Red Army was approaching, the retreating Germans did not have time to demount and ship the equipment so they partly blew up the power-station. This steam boiler was almost undamaged after the explosion and was used later. When the power-station started to use gas, this steam boiler was adapted to use the new fuel. Therefore, you can see a yellow pipe surrounding the steam boiler.
As this steam boiler was designed to burn coal, it had doors for cleaning it from the inside. The employees of the power-station used to get into the boiler and perform the cleaning. The now cemented floor of the boiler was a grid, through which ashes of the burned coal fell to the cellar and were emptied to the yard of the power-station later. The conditions for cleaning of the boiler were not very favourable, as the heat inside the cooled down steam boiler was 100 degrees; moreover, it was polluted with soot and carbon monoxide.
The economizer is another important part of the steam boiler. It was used to heat the water supplied to the steam boiler from 20-25 degrees to 90-100 degrees. This was done seeking an economic benefit: the warmer the water supplied to the steam boiler, the less energy is required to warm the steam up to the proper temperature. The economizer itself is heated by the warm fume exiting the steam boiler.
The model of the Vilnius City Master Plan, created in 1980, depicts how architects of that time saw the development of Vilnius progressing up to the year 2000. Architect Augis Gučas was in charge of the model design, while architects Algimantas Nasvytis, Vytautas Edmundas Čekanauskas, and the Lėckai family provided ideas for the vision of Vilnius. Construction of the model took almost 5 months, with 9 to 14 people working on it during this period. The work was complicated, materials and time were lacking, and therefore the layout was not completed: the Antakalnis and Žirmūnai districts, as well as Kalvarijų street, are missing. Pay attention to the Neris peninsula, an ambitious water park project by the Nasvyčiai brothers. According to their plan, two pools – each with high-firing water fountains in the middle – had to be excavated, while a water cascade system for summer bathing was supposed to be installed on the edge of one fountain. The project was eventually abandoned and much later, in 1995, only the White Bridge was built. Most of the projects depicted in the model remained unfulfilled.
The mural “Architects” was created in 1983 by Rimas Jonušas, for the Vilnius Architecture Board, the current Urban Development Department. This was his diploma work while studying at Vilnius Academy of Arts, formerly known as the State Art Institute. Artists Gitenis Umbrasas, Arūnas Jonikas and others worked on painting the faces of the historical figures depicted in the mural. The mural depicts famous architects of that time, among them: the Nasvyčiai brothers, Vytautas Brėdikis, Birutė Kasperavičienė, and Vytautas Edmundas Čekanauskas. The mural was moved to the Energy and Technology Museum in 2009.
Now direct your attention to the historical photos of the power plant, located on the walls above your head. The photographs hanging above the power plant schematic diagram were taken in the 1940s. During the interwar period, the Vilnius power plant was a prominent symbol of the city. The photographs show the river pier, and moored ships. During the reconstruction, the power plant complex was supplemented with a four-story high-voltage switchboard building. When the power plant was built, the surrounding environment was cleaned up – the natural embankment was paved with stones and the new Žvejų street was planted with trees. Later, these trees also served to mask the plant. To the left, the middle photograph shows a Swiss 1800-kW Brown-Boveri steam turbine. It was sanctified in this hall on October 6th, 1926: the launch of the turbine marked the beginning of the huge reconstruction of the entire power plant complex. Unfortunately, the war broke out and ruined all these plans. It is gratifying that the turbo-generator shown in the photograph still adorns the turbine hall of the power plant, even today. In the photograph, behind the Brown-Boveri turbo-generator, an old steam engine and a gorgeous control panel bridge can be seen.
The steam produced in the steam boiler was supplied to the steam turbines. You can see the open steam turbine and a part of remaining turbine blades inside it. There is an electricity generator, where electricity was produced, next to the turbine. Dry steam superheated to 370 degrees and pressurized up to 12-15 atmospheres was supplied to the turbine where it rotated the blades. Some of the blades were removed from this turbine, as the need to rotate the generator disappeared when the power-station stopped producing electricity. There are wide openings, through which the de-energized steam after turning the turbine blades used to descend to the steam condenser in the basement where it turned into water again, at the bottom of the turbine. The second component of the turbine generator is a generator connected with the steam turbine. The generator consists of a conductor and magnets which create a magnetic field inside. A massive copper wire reel was used as a conductor in this generator. When the conductor rotates in the magnetic field, electrons move in the conductor and electricity is generated in this way. Electricity is directed from the generator to the transformer where voltage is changed and it is supplied to the consumers from the transformer. Electricity was supplied to the city via 7 different lines, which were managed from the control panel in the power-station.
You can see the model of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant made in 1980. Preparatory work on the power plant began in 1974 and it was launched on December 31st, 1983. At that time, the RBMK-1500 reactors operating here were the most powerful in the world, and even entered the Guinness Book of World Records. There were plans to build four blocks in total in the power plant, but due to the Chernobyl accident in 1986, only 2 were eventually built. In 2009, after 26 years of operation, the plant was shut down in accordance with international agreements. During this period, the power plant produced 308 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.
You see the model of the Kruonis Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Plant in front of you. This is the only power plant of its type in the Baltic states. Construction of the plant began in 1984, and it was launched in 1992. The Kruonis Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Plant is designed to balance the production of electricity and ensure the prevention and elimination of accidents in the energy system. The power plant also ensures a secondary emergency reserve of the Lithuanian power system. When the load on the energy system is low and there is a lot of cheap excess energy (e.g. during the night), the Kruonis Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Plant units, activated in pump mode, raise water from Kaunas lagoon to an artificial, upper 303 ha basin located 100 m above the Kaunas lagoon’s water level. During the day, when the demand for energy increases, the power plant works as a conventional hydroelectric generator. The capacity of the power plant is 900 MW, and it is one of the most important power plants in Lithuania.
The control panel is probably the most important part of the power-station where all management arteries of the power-station meet. This panel was installed across 1946–1949. The old control panel is gone: it was destroyed in the end of the Second World War. The control panel of the power-station, which you can see, consists of 20 shields. All equipment and devices were made in the Soviet Union. The lines for transmitting electricity, charging the batteries, connection equipment for generators and excitation contours: current switches, ammeters, voltmeters, wattmeters, ohmmeters, meters and fuses, were installed in the control panel of the power-station. The highly-qualified personnel used to monitor this equipment every day and night, as the panel was controlled manually. It was possible to call the senior engineer of the power-station via the phone line of the control panel there; the senior used to live in the administrative building, which is still standing next to the museum. It is decorated today with the sculpture “Electra”, which was created by Petras Mazūras. The water system of the power-station is installed in the basement under the hall of turbines. You will have the possibility to see it.
The steam turbine condensers, water top-up pumps, all steam and water manifolds and fire safety pumps were installed in the basement of the power-station. The water was supplied to the power-station from the river or the artesian well. Before entering the equipment, the water was chemically and mechanically cleaned. Water circulated around the equipment of the power-station: steam boiler – turbine – condenser. Steam, which operated the steam turbine, descended to the condenser where it cooled down and turned into water. It was prepared to return to the steam boiler again in this way. You can see a lot of small tubes inside the steam condenser. These tubes were filled with cold water and their cooled the descended steam. The water inside the tubes heated up because of the heat of steam and had to be replaced regularly. The warm water from the condenser was used for heating the premises of the power-station and was also supplied to the heating systems of the city.
The first power-stations in Lithuania were quite small and were usually constructed in the wind or water mills which used to be built near the manors. The official history of energy states that the first electric lamp in Lithuania was lit in 1892, in the manor of noblemen Oginskiai in Rietavas. You can see the iconographic material of this manor showing the electricity poles in front of you, on the left. Historic research showed later that electricity was used in the manor of noblemen Tiškevičiai in Kretinga at least two years earlier. It was produced in the nearby water mill, which was the first hydroelectric power-station in Lithuania. You can see the iconographic material of the manor of Kretinga in front of you, on the right.
Gas torches illuminated the city before the first central power-station of Vilnius was built. When the power-station started its operation, the streets were light by high, modern and much safer electric streetlights for the first time. Some houses in Vilnius had their own autonomous power-stations which produced electricity just for one particular building. One of such houses was the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society. You can see the photographs of the houses which had autonomous power-stations in front of you on the left.
17. „RŪTA-110“
Rūta-110 is a complex of second-generation computing tools, developed in 1969 at the Vilnius computing machinery factory, Sigma. The complex for carrying out arithmetic, as well as logical and other operations, consisted of several dozen devices: a control panel, processors, perforators, memory devices and other apparatus. The complexity of the computing machine led to the eventual failure of this project. In total, only 37 such complexes were produced. The Rūta-110 control panel also entered the history of Lithuanian design, as it was the final project of Petras Algirdas Šarka, one of the first three graduates of the Department of Artistic Design of Industrial Products in 1965, which was supervised by Professor Feliksas Daukantas. The name Rūta was taken from the first Lithuanian computer created in 1962. Part of the first Rūta equipment can be viewed at the Industry and Design exposition.
Craftsmanship flourished throughout Vilnius, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and in the Middle Ages workshops began to establish a foothold in the city: goldsmiths, tailors, carpenters, and many others. This kind of workshop operated for four centuries! The products from these workshops were mainly used by the nobility and townspeople. At the time, the river Vilnelė was considered to be the cradle of Vilnius industry. There were various mills, with food processing and brick-making enterprises established on the Neris’s banks. The industrial revolution came to Vilnius in the 19th century: rail-roads were built, machines were increasingly powered by steam, looms become popular, and much manual work became mechanized. Light industry began to develop which, due to the rulings of the Vilnius magistrate, was moved to the Šnipiškės and Lukiškės districts. This rapid industrial growth led not only to an increase in the volume of products created, but also to the growth of the whole city. The population of Vilnius increased from 20,000 in 1800 to 214,000 in 1914.
After World War I, Vilnius became a Polish city and industrial growth stagnated, with the population living in poverty with minimal food, while the companies lacked the raw materials for production. At the same time, Vilnius started to gradually modernize: modern public transport was built, cars started roaming the city streets, telephones entered the mainstream and the first radio broadcasts were launched. Metallurgy and the production of leather, building materials, paper, radio devices (radio “Elektrit”) and other commodities started to develop. Modern architecture was being developed, apartment buildings were built, a new water and sewerage system was under construction and the central Vilnius power station was also being modernized. All this changed with the arrival World War II, during which more than 50% of Vilnius’s residential buildings and more than 70% of industrial enterprises were destroyed. Only about 100,000 people remained in Vilnius. As a result of the Soviet occupation, ideology became important. Large-scale migration to cities and urbanization started to take place. Townspeople worked in large factories and technological progress was made in tandem with industrialization: computing machines, pumps, engines, televisions, and other modern products were being developed. The city was expanding, apartment buildings were built based on raw functionality and new neighbourhoods were formed: Karoliniškės, Lazdynai, Žirmūnai, and Baltupiai. The population grew from 236,000 in 1959 to 481,000 by only 1978.
Enter the typical residence of a Lithuanian settler of the 1960s – Khrushchyovka. Khrushchyovka is a large apartment building built in the Soviet Union during the reign of Nikita Khrushchev. Here you can see a fragment of the kitchen and living room interiors and their furnishings. 3-5 story residential buildings, with very basic apartments, were typical for many Lithuanian cities. The settler’s apartment was equipped with a balcony and a shared bathroom and toilet room. Such cheap and functional apartments had to be provided to every family in the USSR. On the left rack you can see various objects representing Soviet designs created and manufactured in Lithuania: an Audra vacuum cleaner, a cassette tape recorder Tonika-310 Stereo, and Šilelis TVs. One of the most prominent design objects during the Soviet era was the Saturnas vacuum cleaner, manufactured by the Vilnius Electric Welding Equipment Factory since 1962. This electric vacuum cleaner, with its spherical shape and bright colours, aptly reflected the aesthetics of the space age.
You are looking at the smoke extractor of the III and IV boiler. The smoke extractor is located within the exhaust pipe, right at the outlet of the chimney. Gas from the boiler furnace rises up from below, before passing through economizers. Above you is the chimney exhaust hole. The smoke extractor consists of two electric motors, one on either side. The motors rotate centrifugal fans inside the chimney. The function of the smoke extractor is to ensure gas circulation inside the boiler. When the boiler is in operation, the smoke extractor removes the gas heated during combustion through the economizer, where it releases some of its heat, and later removes such gas through the chimney to the outdoors. Removal of gas allows the air required to maintain combustion to enter the boiler. The smoke extractor is always operational when the boiler is running.
A laser is a light generator-amplifier, which was invented in 1957. LASER stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The laser amplifies light waves. The active substance amplifies the light trapped in it and the resonator mirrors return it to the active medium. The result is “clear” light. Laser operation is based on light physics phenomena -refraction, scattering, reflection, diffraction, interference, absorption, and complex effects of non-linear physics. As the light needs to go through a series of transformations, the laser uses a variety of optical elements. The first laser research applications in Lithuania were submitted in the 1960s at the Vilnius University and the Institute of Physics, where the Lithuanian laser companies developed. The Lithuanian laser industry began in 1983 with the establishment of experimental factories Eksma and Ekspla. Later other companies, such as Šviesos konversija and Altechnos, Lidaris, Femtika and others were also established. There are currently about 15 laser industry companies in Lithuania, manufacturing lasers and high-tech products related to laser applications. Most of these manufactured products are exported globally.
The machine in front of you is a cylindrical printing press weighing 2 tonnes. This printing press was manufactured by Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG in 1906. The labels attached to the printing press bear the words – “Frankenthal”, “A. Hamm” and “Heidelberg”. These words tell us the story of the manufacturing company: the company was first founded in the German city of Frankenthal, back in the 1850s and Andreas Hamm was one of the co-founders. After Hamm’s death, at the end of the century, his son sold the company to Wilhelm Müller, who moved the business to Heidelberg. This move led to a change of company name. Today, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG is one of the largest manufacturers of printing equipment in the world.
The gas control panel in the power-station had been operating since 1962 when gas first started to be fired, and it functioned until the power-station was closed. Here, the pressure of the incoming gas supplied via the distribution pipelines was regulated to the pressure suitable for the devices of the power-station. The pressure was regulated by the employee of the power-station who took care of all this authentic gas regulation system. You can see newer, more advanced gas control equipment here. Some of it is still used today.
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