Tag Archive for Physical Plant

New CoGen System Generating 81 Percent of Electricity

Ray Mason, boiler tender, looks over Wesleyan's new cogeneration unit housed inside Central Power Plant. CoGen went into operation in February and creates electricity, heat and steam for campus buildings.

Ray Mason, boiler tender, looks over Wesleyan’s new cogeneration unit housed inside Central Power Plant. The “CoGen” system went into operation in February and creates electricity, heat and steam for campus buildings.

It’s one mean, green machine and it’s saving Wesleyan up to $5,000 a day in energy costs.

Wesleyan’s new Cogeneration system – or CoGen, – uses natural gas to simultaneously generate electricity, heat and steam for university use. It began operation in February after an 18-month installation process.

“Buying electricity from the grid is expensive and non-efficient,” says Peter Staye, associate director of utilities management. “With CoGen, we are generating 81 percent of our own power. It should pay for itself in five years.”

CoGen operates similar to a vehicle with an extreme super-duty engine. The natural-gas fired, turbo-charged, four-stroke engine runs on 16 cylinders. Each cylinder is 5.8 liters. (A 2009 Ford F-150 has eight cylinders with a 4.6 liter engine.)

Made by General Electric in Austria, the 22,000-pound Jenbacher gas engine runs at 1,500 revolutions per minute. It powers a generator, which ultimately creates 2,398 kilowatts of electricity.

Staye offered a comparison of two recent electric bills side by side. In February 2008, Wesleyan consumed 1,558,687 kilowatt hours. In February 2009, with CoGen in operation, the usage dropped to 359,584 hours. Monthly electric bills have dropped from the $180,000 range to under $50,000.

“By generating our own power, we’re saving Wesleyan up to $5,000 a day in electricity costs,” Staye says.

This will be especially useful in the summer when Wesleyan uses an average of 65,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a day to power 90 buildings on campus.

CoGen not only generates electricity, but uses its “wasted” 800-degree heat to make steam and hot water for university use. High Rise residence hall and the Central Power Plant are heated with the thermal energy from the engines cooling system during the winter months and the campus steam loop receives 3,000 pounds of steam per hour year round from the energy in the engine’s exhaust.

CoGen generates 81 percent of Wesleyan's electricity needs. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

CoGen generates 81 percent of Wesleyan’s electricity needs. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

“Conventional power plants emit the heat created as a by-product in to the environment. We’re using a waste product from the engine to make our own steam,” Staye says.

Gary Yohe, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, is an expert on the potential damage of global climate change. He applauds Wesleyan for installing a cogeneration system.

“Wasting energy is never good for the planet so when CoGen works out, it’s good for the bottom line and great for the planet,” Yohe says. “When you burn a ton of fossil fuel, you can waste 75 percent of the energy it makes. If but you have the ability to only waste 50 percent, that is reducing the carbon footprint by a third, and that is substantial.”

Like any vehicle engine, CoGen’s exhaust is toxic. It contains carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide. To reduce emissions from the engine’s combustion, the exhaust is mixed with a non-hazardous solution of urea, rich in ammonia. The mixture then enters a chamber full of honeycomb-patterned platinum plates and serves as a selective catalytic reactor.

As the exhaust passes through the reactor, a chemical reaction occurs that causes the emissions to break down.

“The nitrogen in the ammonia combines with nitrogen oxides in the exhaust and the resulting gas, now much cleaner, is a combination of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and carbon dioxide,” Staye explains. “The process works much the same way as a car’s catalytic converter, but on a much larger scale and with greater precision.”

Wesleyan is producing half of the permitted emissions allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We’re still making Co2 but the rest of the exhaust stream is very clean,” Staye says.

CoGen cost $4.5 million to install, however a grant from the Connecticut Department of Public Utility supported $1.6 million of the bill. In return, Wesleyan runs the system 24/7 and has agreed to run CoGen from noon to 8 p.m. June 1 through Sept. 31 and Dec. 1 through Jan. 31 to help reduce loads on the regional electrical grid. CoGen’s annual maintenance bill runs about $250,000.

Energy Association Honors Wesleyan for Conservation Efforts

A new 1,500-ton centrifugal chiller in the Central Power Plant uses half the electricity as the one it replaced. The chiller replacement is one reason that Association of Energy Engineers awarded Wesleyan the 2009 Region I Energy Project of the Year Award.

A new 1,500-ton centrifugal chiller in the Central Power Plant uses half the electricity as the one it replaced. The chiller replacement is one reason that Association of Energy Engineers awarded Wesleyan the 2009 Region I Energy Project of the Year Award.

Peter Staye, associate director of utilities, points to the ceiling of the Bacon Field House. About 140 high-tech light fixtures span the width of the dome-roofed gymnasium.

“These are special lights for high ceilings,” he says. “There’s 24 fewer fixtures here than there used to be, and it’s just as bright. If we used florescent fixtures, we’d need 240 of them.”

The new, 350-watt, high-intensity discharge bulbs have replaced the older, 400-watt bulbs, and use 373,000 fewer kilowatt hours per year. They’re also programmed to turn on in zones, and change luminosity throughout the day based on a newly-installed ambient light sensor.

The field house lighting project is one reason Wesleyan was awarded the Association of Energy Engineers 2009 Region I Energy Project of the Year Award. The award will be presented Nov. 3 in Washington D.C.

Wesleyan’s Energy Conservation Project Phase I plan also includes lighting fixture replacements and sensor additions in the Freeman Athletic Center’s basketball court,

Davenport to Re-Open with Public Life, Writing Centers

At left, Scott Martin, superintendent of PAC Group LLC in North Haven, Conn. discusses floor plans with Alan Rubacha, construction services consultant, inside the former Davenport Campus Center on March 16.The building is undergoing an interior remodeling project and will re-open as The Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life for the Fall 2009 semester.

At left, Scott Martin, superintendent of PAC Group LLC in North Haven, Conn. discusses floor plans with Alan Rubacha, construction services consultant, inside the former Davenport Campus Center on March 16.The building is undergoing an interior remodeling project and will re-open as The Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life for the Fall 2009 semester.

Wesleyan Enters ‘RecycleMania’ Again

Between Jan. 18 and March 28, Wesleyan will once again join the more than 470 colleges and universities from across the country participating in RecycleMania, a national recycling and waste minimization competition. This is Wesleyan’s fourth year participating.

Wesleyan is participating in RecycleMania for the fourth time.

Wesleyan is participating in RecycleMania for the fourth time.

“Our goal is to make people aware of how much trash and recyclables they are generating, and to hopefully minimize waste and increase awareness about recycling,” says Jeff Miller, associate director for facilities management and chair of the Recycling and Waste Committee, a subcommittee of Wesleyan’s Sustainable Advisory Group for Environmental Stewardship. “We’re interested in measuring how much waste goes out of this campus.”

During the 10-week contest, Wesleyan will record the volume of paper, cardboard and glass/metals/plastics collected from most academic, administrative, on-campus student dormitory facilities and the Usdan University Center. Wesleyan also will record the amount of garbage.

Weekly measurements will be taken by

Wesleyan Fire Safety Top Story in Safety Publication

Wesleyan is featured in the Jan. 2009 issue of <i>Doors & Hardware</i>magazine.

Wesleyan's fire safety efforts are featured in the Jan. 2009 issue of Doors & Hardware magazine.

Wesleyan was featured as the cover story in Doors & Hardware magazine’s Jan. 2009 issue. Doors & Hardware is a publication of the Door and Hardware Institute, which aims to advance life safety and security solutions. In an article titled “Off-Campus Fire Safety: How Wesleyan University meets the Challenge of Making its Unique Student Housing Fire Safe,” the magazine cites Wesleyan’s Facilities for upgrading residential sprinkler systems.

Joyce Topshe, associate vice president of facilities, and Barb Spalding, associate director of campus fire safety, are featured in the article. Wesleyan allocated $5M towards sprinklers for a residence hall that housed 520 students; 17 off-campus wood-framed houses; and 23 buildings. The budget also funded carbon monoxide detectors and some new fire alarm systems.

The article mentions that in doing these projects, “the university learned that retrofitting a large number of buildings, on budget and in a short period of time, is indeed possible.”

Under-the-Desk Waste Baskets Replaced with Recycle Containers

Jonathan Curry, TITLE, and Alex Cabal, area coordinator, have replaced their plastic trash cans with recyclable containers in Residential Life.

Area coodinators Jonathan Connary and Alex Cabal have replaced their plastic trash cans with recyclable containers in Residential Life. (Photo by Intisar Abioto '09)

Trash bins may find themselves down in the dumps, at least around Wesleyan’s campus.

The university is replacing them – one by one – with recyclable containers in attempt to make Wesleyan a “greener” campus community.

“Most everything we throw away at our desks – paper, plastic water bottles and soda cans and cardboard packaging material – is recyclable,” says Jeff Miller, associate director for facilities management. “So why keep a trash can under your desk?”

Miller and other members of Wesleyan’s Recycling and Waste Committee, a subcommittee of Wesleyan’s Sustainable Advisory Group for Environmental Stewardship (SAGES), are spearheading efforts to remove the trash bins from all individual administrative and academic offices.

Donna Steinback: Customer Service Assistant Answers the Call to All Campus Problems

Donna Steinback, department assistant/customer service person in Physical Plant explained the residential hall no-no's to students during New Student Orientation.

Donna Steinback, department assistant/customer service assistant in Physical Plant, explained the residential hall no-no's to students during New Student Orientation.

Q: Donna, how long have you worked at Wesleyan as the department assistant/customer service assistant for Physical Plant?

A: It’s been eight years.

Q: The extension X3400 is one most people on campus are familiar with.

A: This is my number, the direct number for all customer service needs.

Q: Have you had any odd-ball calls?

A: I have to say the funniest call I received was a request asking that we send someone to clean a refrigerator out because she had rotten chicken that was smelling.