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Baltimore Builds on a Floodplain with PENETRON


PENETRON ADMIX waterproofing admixture helped secure the construction of a new electrical substation in Baltimore, Maryland – even though the site is on a floodplain. Baltimore Utilities is making substantial investments to upgrade the reliability of the 115 kV electrical grid that incorporates Baltimore’s substations. The new Constitution Street Station is a key city substation, which replaces the previous substation. However, the 1.2-acre site is located in a riverine floodplain zone. Since no reasonable alternative land options existed, the project began construction in 2014.

View from the top: The top of the PENETRON ADMIX-treated concrete structure, with a view of Baltimore’s nearby neighborhoods, shows the proximity of this key electrical substation to the city.
View from the top: The top of the PENETRON ADMIX-treated concrete structure, with a view of Baltimore’s nearby neighborhoods, shows the proximity of this key electrical substation to the city.


“The main challenge was to design and construct a facility that meets Baltimore’s rigorous hazard mitigation building codes and obtain the local and state permits to build critical infrastructure in a 100-year flood plain area,” explains Christopher Chen, Director of The PENETRON Group.

The large, below-grade vault contains high voltage power equipment, including high pressure conduits lined with pressurized liquid to insulate from the foundation. The design of the high tech electrical substation included modification of the exterior walls to account for flooding conditions and minimize flood water displacement.


Black & Veatch, the project engineers, specified three-foot thick concrete walls and a massive base slab for the live electrical vault. Over 4,000 cubic yards (3,058 m3) of concrete, supplied by Vulcan Materials, the ready mix supplier, were treated with PENETRON ADMIX SB, delivered in soluble bags to simplify dosage during the batching of the concrete mix.

“How do you fit so much concrete on less than half an acre? It’s hard to imagine just how massive this building is until you realize just how much concrete was poured,” adds Mr. Chen. “Once it’s completed, this live electrical vault will be completely waterproof.”


While PENETRON ADMIX SB was used to treat the entire foundation slab and the three-foot thick walls, PENETRON topical waterproofing material was applied to any cracks on the surface before backfilling the structure, even though the concrete was already treated with PENETRON ADMIX.

“Using both our admixture and the slurry for surface application concentrates the crystalline PENETRON material at any locations where cracks might occur. This can accelerate the crack-sealing efficiency of the crystalline technology,” says Mr. Chen.

This Constitution Street Station project will connect with other energy infrastructure currently in service to fully meet NERC Planning Reliability Standards. This upgrade allows BGE to continue to deliver safe and reliable electric service to downtown Baltimore and meet the long term growth needs of the city.

The PENETRON Group is a leading manufacturer of specialty construction products for concrete waterproofing, concrete repairs and floor preparation systems. The Group operates through a global network, offering support to the design and construction community through its regional offices, representatives and distribution channels.

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