Honeywell and Eastern Illinois University Launch Biomass-Fueled Heating Plant

In an attempt to minimize carbon footprint and utility costs, Honeywell and Eastern Illinois University (EIU) have established an energy-efficient drive, upgrading the university campus with the installation of biomass-fueled heating solutions.

The program is expected to facilitate infrastructure improvement, address deferred maintenance issues and result in savings to the tune of $140 million in operational and energy costs in the next 20 years.

EIU will fund the improvements and use Honeywell-guaranteed savings to meet upgradation expenses, under a 20-year contract. The upgrades will not affect the university's budget, taxpayer costs or students fees.

All facilities on the university campus will be upgraded under this initiative, to restrict greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. Slated for completion by the end of 2012, these upgrades are expected to reduce annual energy requirement of the university by 6.2 million kilowatt-hours and carbon dioxide emissions by almost 20,000 metric tons per year. The saved energy can is equivalent to the power consumption of over 580 homes and the reduced emissions will offset the impact of over 3,600 cars.

A new steam plant will be constructed on the southeast corner of the campus, which will be the focal point of the program. Equipped with two biomass gasifiers, the plant will generate steam that will provide heat to all structures in the campus. Locally-sourced wood chips will be used by the large gasifiers. The biomass-fueled plant will replace the existing steam plant, whose annual consumption is over 10,000 tons of coal and which needs constant maintenance.

In the gasification plant, wood chips will be heated in an airtight chamber totally deprived of oxygen, to create synthetic gas, which burns like natural gas. This gas will be used as fuel for boilers and result in a carbon-neutral solution for the university. Under this plan, the university is likely to supply its entire steam heating load from a renewable resource.

The biomass system was selected based on inputs from the Honeywell Renewable Energy Scorecard, a selection tool that analyzes details across locations to recommend the right technology with environmental and benefits.

President of Eastern Illinois University, Bill Perry commented that the program allows for critical improvements at the facility, which translates into added comfort and functionality for the years to come. To utilize the excess steam for electricity generation, Honeywell will install a small turbine at the campus. This turbine will annually generate over 2.9 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, cutting down on the university’s energy purchases from the grid, as well as providing one more eco-friendly source of energy.

The retrocommissioning of mechanical systems for efficient operation; construction of a new high-voltage switch yard with two electricity intake points to reduce utility rates; replacement of windows with double-pane insulating glass at five residence halls; upgradation of lighting fixtures, installation of occupancy sensors; retrofitting of plumbing systems, updation of a chilled water system; and sealing of building envelopes to stall steam loss are some additional measures taken for conservation.

Honeywell will also provide measurement and verification services as well as ongoing commissioning for the upgrades.

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