EIU Renewable Energy Center: A Virtual Tour

Uploaded by IAMEIU on 08.02.2012

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Hello, and welcome to Eastern Illinois University's
Renewable Energy Center virtual tour.
I'm Ryan Siegal, the campus energy and sustainability
coordinator for EIU.
I want to welcome you this morning to the Renewable Energy
Center that provides all the heat for the university.
Inside in just a little bit, we'll head into our conference
room, just where we'll welcome our campus community as well as
our general population for tours here at
the Renewable Energy Center.
This room will serve as part one of the next phase of this
project which will be to construct the center for clean
energy research and education, just to the north of this plant.
That will house the new business incubator, classroom facility,
and laboratory facility that our new academic programs will be
housed in, including a new minor and new
master's program in sustainable energy.
Let's head on in, thank you.
Well welcome to the Renewable Energy Center, this facility was
constructed through a guaranteed energy performance contract.
This facility along with 22 other energy conservation
projects across campus were installed,
just within the last few years.
The total project cost was $80 million and this pays for itself
in a period of just 20 years, so without having to raise our
tuition dollars or having to request additional money from
the state, we were able to provide this facility along with
other improvements across the campus.
This facility provides all the steam needs for campus as well
as about 10% of the electrical demand for campus.
Here at the site, this is a biomass gassification site which
is a two stage combustion process.
It is the first stage we heat and cook the fuel in a low
oxygen environment which produces a synthetic natural
gas, and then in the second stage we add additional air and
burn that synthetic natural gas, this allows for a much cleaner
burning facility as well as a much
more fuel flexible facility.
We'll discuss the fuel later on as far as
the various types and potentials.
This facility is also registered with the United States green
building council and their leadership and energy and
environmental design program.
This is the first solid fuel power plant in the nation to be
registered with that program and we're currently on target to
receive a gold rating, which is one below the top.
So for first in the nation and for a first lead project here at
Eastern Illinois University, we are setting that bar very high.
One of the features of the facility we were very cognizant
of is, due to its size, the rainwater coming from the storm
water management became very critical.
And so we have installed a 3,000 gallon storage tank underground
which captures rainwater from the facility and actually feeds
a water feature and pond out in front of the plant.
This facility is a cogeneration plant, so we produce both heat
and power at this facility.
This also has two, 10 kilowatt solar rays on
the south end of the facility.
As part of this project we designed but did not install a
university wind farm.
Those windmills would have paid for themselves over the 20 year
contract including the 12 mile industrial duty extension cord.
However, due to the questionability of borrowing
that additional dollars, that project was placed aside
for future development.
I mentioned earlier that this project was provided through a
performance contract.
What this does is, the university borrows money
installs various equipment that saves utility dollars, those
utility dollars are redirected to pay off that debt.
As part of this, there is also the design company or our
partner firm, in this case Honeywell International, that
provides all the modeling and also the performance guarantee,
so they provide a guarantee that over the 20 year life of the
project that this facility and all the projects will
pay for themselves, including the cost of financing.
In addition to this, we required Honeywell to take out an
insurance policy against that as well
and then the university also took out an insurance policy
against the failure of Honeywell.
While we don't anticipate any of these potential failures to
occur, we always wanted to make sure that we had a backup plan
in case anything were to happen similar to like General Motors
who went bankrupt.
So let's head on out and take a look.
This is kind of the end of the public area of our operating
plant, with our washrooms further back in the plant.
We also have a locker room, shower facility,
and laundry facility for our operators.
With this plant, because we do have operators here on site
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and they are doing all the
maintenance on the plant itself we need to provide a room for
our operators to clean up once they are done for the day.
Here we have our chief engineers office.
At this facility we have our chief operating engineer,
as well as 10 operators, and an instrument technician.
The chief operating engineer as well as the other 10 operators,
were the same people that we had back at our
old 1925 coal burning facility.
EIU burned its last ton of coal on December 14, 2010,
after over a century of burning coal on our campus.
So that provided about six months worth of training time
for our operators on this new facility.
The location here for the Renewable Energy Center was
built on the far southeast corner of campus.
When the original 1925 steam plant was constructed it was
built as well on the far southeast corner of campus.
This facility is about a mile southeast of the original steam
plant, so our campus has grown substantially.
The coal burning facility had experienced numerous failures
over time and parts were extremely difficult to find,
if you even could find them.
So in the event that we had a system fail we had to
literally go manufacture a part, which was
not only time consuming it was also very expensive.
So by having a new facility we have the ability to actually get
spare parts if we do have something break down on us.
So let's go on out to the plant floor.
Here on the boiler floor off to our side here,
we have our water treatment area.
Because we are producing electricity here
we have very specific water quality requirements that
we have to maintain, as well as, from this facility our
steam leaves from the basement of the old steam plant which is
roughly a mile away, then it goes out on the campus row
about two and half miles and then makes a return trip.
So we have to maintain that water
chemistry across seven miles of piping.
So that requires very strict standards.
Here at this facility we also have a water testing lab,
so we can make sure that we are maintaining
those water quality standards.
This boiler behind me is one of four boilers we have on site.
We have two that are biomass gassifiers
and then two that are natural gas with a fuel oil backup.
Of the four boilers in the middle of winter, the university
only requires two, so that way we have three levels of fuel
redundancy here no matter what time of year it is.
This was extremely important to us because this facility serves
over 3 million square feet of campus.
If this plant fails to operate then it
could close the university.
There are few things, at a university, that can have that
magnitude of impact, so it was extremely important for us to
build in redundancy.
This boiler behind me, as I mentioned, is natural gas and
fuel oil, this one generates 50,000 pounds an hour or roughly
50 million BTUs, compared to a home furnace
of about 80,000 BTUs.
So this is several hundred times larger than your home unit
and we have two of these similar units here on site.
So let's go take a look at where the condensate comes in.
This is where the steam leaves the plant, going out to campus.
This is a 14 inch steam main that goes out to our campus,
and then we also have a condensate return.
Most of the heat that is in steam, it is located in that
phase change from a gas vapor, back to water.
So we provide that phase change for the campus.
Once it condenses, it is pumped back here to this facility.
Because, as noted earlier, we have several miles of piping and
when you send steam out you don't get the condensate back
immediately, we have two tanks, one is located here at this
facility and one is located in the basement
of the old steam plant.
Those two tanks provide a buffering to the system so when
demand changes on campus we have a place to draw the water from
and as demand decreases a place to store that water to provide a
buffer to the system.
So let's head on into our electric room.
This is the incoming electric for the facility.
Here we have two different utility feeds coming into the
plant, and we also have the ability to tie those together.
So in the event of loss of one of our utility feeds coming into
this plant, we tie the system back together
and continue to operate.
This goes back to that redundancy that I was talking
about earlier where, in this facility, typically whenever you
need one item you'll normally have two, or if you need two
you'll have three, or in the case of our boilers we need two
and we have four.
And this is to maintain this facility operational no matter
what we run into, which was extremely important to us.
So let's head out and see the other boiler.
This boiler behind me is the second natural gas and fuel oil
boiler that was installed at this plant.
This boiler was purchased early in the project and installed
back at the old steam plant to provide reliability because even
the newest boiler in the old facility was over 40 years old.
Typical lifespan for a boiler is only 30 years, so we weren't
sure that we could maintain the steam going out to campus
in the meantime, while this facility was getting built,
so this boiler was purchased and installed early, and then
just a few weeks ago was brought over to this facility.
Now one nice thing that this provided was because typical
construction, you install your large pieces of mechanical
equipment first then you construct
your building around it.
So then later when you have to replace that, you have to take a
wall down in order to get the equipment back out.
Since this was purchased early, they had to leave a place for
this boiler to come into the plant so that way, in about 30
years when it's time to replace this boiler, we have a way to
get this boiler as well as other pieces of equipment,
back out of this facility.
So that's one of those features that's not typically built into
new construction.
So let's head on into our instrument shop
and control room.
This is our instrument tech shop.
Early on we identified this as a need because a new facility is
highly automated and highly instrumented, and we needed a
dedicated location for our instrument technician to bring
instruments back and do calibration and also programming
modifications to the system as we move forward.
One other thing that you will notice about this plant is that
just about anywhere that you are in the plant you do have a view
to the outside, which not only was part of that lead program
but also makes for a much more inviting
work environment as well.
So let's head on over to the control room.
So this is the control room, we have two operator stations
as well as in the middle is our thermal imaging cameras,
because the gassification process, parts of it take place
outside the visible spectrum.
We use infrared cameras to monitor those processes.
One other thing with these is, where in older plants you had
operators going around reading one gauge, making an adjustment,
reading another gauge, making an adjustment and so on,
this allows our operators to view any gauge throughout
the plant as well as make modifications and changes to
the valves out on the facility so we can get a
system wide picture and make system changes.
Which is much more effective as well as provides for a much
cleaner operation without having as much labor.
As was noted earlier we have very few people that actually
operate this facility.
In order to maintain two operators here, 24 hours a day,
requires 8 1/2 people, and we only have 10 operators for this
plant, so we don't have a whole lot of excess, those operators
are also required not only to operate the plant, but also do
any required maintenance for this facility as well.
So let's head on into where our network comes in.
This is kind of the brains of the plant.
We do have a few of these cabinets located around the
plant that house our programmable logic controllers,
or mini computers.
In one of these cabinets, you can fit over a
hundred of these mini computers.
So with all the instrumentation and automation and all these
computers we do have a substantial UPS to
provide backup power while we wait for the generator
to come back online.
We also house the incoming campus network,
as well as the security cameras for the facility.
Since we are generating electricity here on site,
we do have our protective relaying cabinet behind me,
which, in the event that we do lose utility power,
we take ourselves, isolate ourselves from the grid
to prevent us from back feeding power back to the grid
and accidentally killing a lineman
who's trying to restore power to our facility.
So let's head out and take a look at the other gassifiers.
Behind me is one of our gassifier units,
one of two we have here on site.
The piece of equipment directly behind me is actually the first
stage of emission controls, where we have a cyclone particle
separator that spins the air stream, dirt goes to the outside
and falls out, similar to your household vacuum cleaner,
just sized up a few hundred times.
We have an economizer here which is a radiator where the hot
exhaust gasses pass across this radiator and we provide the
feed water going into the boiler through the middle of this
radiator to get more of the BTUs from the combustion process
into that water to get it to steam.
The more heat we can get into the water the more efficient
the process is and therefore the cheaper the
process is to operate.
The red box that we have further back here is the actual
gassifier itself, in order to have complete combustion,
you need heat, fuel, and oxygen.
In this box, we deprive it of oxygen to the point where it
just smolders and we add enough additional just to
keep the process moving.
This is where we actually produce the synthetic natural
gas that is burned in the next stage.
There is then a connecting tube between the gassifier and a
natural gas boiler, similar to the natural gas boilers on the
other side of the plant, and in that connecting tube we add
additional air, so now you have heat, fuel, and oxygen
and the natural gas combusts into flame.
The one thing about the gas boiler attached to the gassifier
is that it is larger boiler than the one on the other side of the
facility, where this one is only 40,000 pounds an hour
compared to 50,000 pounds an hour on the other side.
This is due to the lower BTU content of that synthetic
natural gas, you need a larger heating exchange surface
in order to receive all that heat.
Since we are producing heat at this facility,
we didn't figure it made much sense to provide mechanical
cooling or air conditioning to the entire plant.
So instead what we have is, we have four large exhaust fans,
and then below all the windows in the front of the plant we
have louvers that can be opened so that we can actually provide
a breeze coming through this plant while it won't necessarily
be comfortable in the middle of summer,
it will be livable and workable.
So let's go take a look at our back pressure steam turbine.
This would be our back pressure steam turbine.
Three of our four boilers on site produce steam at 150 pounds
per square inch, which is the pressure the campus requires.
We do have one that is a high pressure boiler that produces
steam at between 600 and 650 pounds per square inch.
That high pressure steam is then run through this back pressure
steam turbine to extract electricity off of that
additional pressure.
The outlet of this steam turbine is 150 pounds to match
the other boilers, but in typical electrical generation,
you'll put 100 units of fuel in, take your 33 units of
electricity off and throw the other 67 away.
With this, because we are doing it as a cogeneration process,
we pull our 33 units of electricity off,
and export the remaining heat off to campus for use,
this allows us to provide very efficient electricity
at low cost.
This will generate electricity for roughly 2 cents a kilowatt
hour compared to typical market prices of between
8 and 14 cents a kilowatt hour.
So it's very cost effective, and that's because we have a product
for that, for that steam that is not needed by this process.
This would be how thick the gassifier is.
This is not only to keep the heat in the
gassfier but also to keep the oxygen out.
Inside this gassifier can reach over 1300 degrees,
so it's especially important that we have a very thick
surface to maintain that heat inside the gassifier.
Once the fuel comes into the plant, drops through this rotary
feed, which provides that airlock, so that way
from that process forward is a low oxygen environment.
From there it drops into this feed bin where we have two screw
augers that distribute the fuel across the day bin
and then 10 feed screws that feed the fuel from
that day bin into the gassifier.
These gassifiers, while fairly automated,
it's very simple in that it is all driven by air.
So all we have is dampers to control where the air is moving
and if we need more synthetic gas, you just give it more air,
the fuel burns quicker, and then you end up with more gas to
combust to provide more steam, this has a very quick response
time compared to our old coal burning facility that had a
fairly slow response time.
In order to start the process, what we do is we feed fuel into
this gassifier, we add some fuel to it, and then light it with a
torch and basically create a small campfire inside,
and then we close these doors, slowly reduce the oxygen level
to the point that the full combustion stops
and the synthetic gas production begins.
So let's go look and see where the ash ends up at the end.
Here we have our ash storage area, we have two fully enclosed
containers that store our ash here on site.
Here we receive, on average, 5 truckloads of fuel
5 days a week or 25 truckloads per week.
These containers will fill up about once every other week.
So you can see how much that fuel settles down over time,
where it's almost 50 truckloads of fuel we'll fit
in one of these containers.
So let's head outside and take a look at our other equipment.
This is the second stage of our emission controls equipment.
This is our electrostatic precipitator, or an ESP.
This uses an electric field to capture any remaining
dust particles that may have made it through
the first stage of our emission equipment.
You will notice that the stack on this is only 80 feet tall
compared to our previous stack height of
a little over 130 feet.
A rule of thumb in air permitting is that the dirtier
you are the taller your stack is, so by being able to
reduce our stack height shows that this is a
much more environmentally friendly and clean process.
So let's go over and take a look at our solar panels.
Here we have our solar arrays.
On site here we have two solar rays that are 10 kilowatts each.
These also track the sun in two directions
to maximize their power output.
While these are 10 kilowatts a piece or 20 kilowatts total,
compared to the steam turbine you saw inside
that was 650 kilowatts.
While these are much smaller, they produce a high value power
compared to the generator inside.
As these produce the most amount of power in the middle of the
day when there's the greatest demand on the electric grid.
So let's head over and take a look at our truck scale.
Here we have our truck scale so we weigh our fuel trucks both in
and out, and then our operators inside will take a sample
and do a moisture test on it so we know
exactly how many BTUs we actually received at this site.
Here at this site, the drier the fuel is, the more value it has
to us as we're paying for more fuel and less water.
So let's go take a look at our fuel storage
and our fuel we actually have received so far.
Here we have our fuel for the plant.
You'll notice that it is a couple of
different sizes of wood chips.
Using gassification technology allows us a much more fuel
flexible process where we can accept fuel from
2 1/2 inch chips, all the way down to 1/8 of an inch.
And then moisture content can vary from 50% down to 5%.
So with this, the plant will operate on wood chips for the
first year of operation, after which we have the ability to
test different fuels and use different fuels as they become
certified by our new Center for Clean Energy Research
and Education as appropriate for gassification technology.
We currently do have a five year fuel contract, and then after
that we have the ability to go look for some additional
and new fuel sources to power this plant
going into the future.
So let's take a look at the truck tipper next.
Well here behind me is how we get the fuel out of the trucks.
After the trucks have come in and weighed,
they back up onto this platform behind me
and then the truck driver will get out and secure his cab,
and then this entire platform will raise up at over
a 60 degree angle and empty all the fuel into this hopper.
This entire process takes about five minutes and then once it's
in the hopper this system can process about three truckloads
per hour, so that allows the truck driver to head off and
collect some more fuel while we continue to process the load.
So let's take a look at where it goes after this.
Once the fuel has left the truck, it comes up this belt
conveyer where we have a magnetic belt separator to
remove any nails or screws that potentially
may have been in the fuel.
After that it continues on up into this building behind me
which houses a screening operation, as noted earlier
we can accept up to 2 1/2 inch chips.
This will screen out particles larger than that.
Then we also have a regrinding operation that will take the few
parts that may by oversized regrind them and run it back
through the screening operation until they
meet the size requirements.
This is not sized such that it can do an entire truckload of
fuel, but for the small pieces here and there
it works very well.
So next let's take a look at how we get our fuel
out of our storage building.
Well once we've got our fuel in the storage building
this is how we get it out.
This is North America's largest traveling
screw reclaiming auger.
This was added ot the design when we changed from
a vertical storage to a horizontal fuel storage system.
When they first proposed adding this to the system we said that
we wanted to see one of these that had been in operation.
We saw a potential failure happening while it's under this
entire pile of fuel, which would be difficult to get to
and very difficult to repair.
There was another one found in Canada but it had only been in
operation a week, and so a couple people from the
university flew over to Stockholm, Sweden
to see one of these in operation.
There, they have a facility that is roughly 10 times the size our
Renewable Energy Center and it provides all the heating
for the city of Stockholm.
There's has been in operation for over 10 years
and their operators stated that they really had
no maintenance problems with it whatsoever.
So with that we had the confidence to bring that into
our design, so as the fuel burns down in the gassifiers,
the gassifiers will call for more fuel the belt
will start up and then this screw auger will begin turning
to pull fuel out of the pile.
This entire thing travels along this track top and bottom and
it'll take it approximately 24 hours to make a single pass
across this building and with that let's go take a look at our
fuel oil storage which provides the third level
of backup for this facility.
Here we have our fuel oil storage tank.
This provides the third level of fuel here at the plant.
So after biomass, then we have natural gas,
and finally we have fuel oil.
This storage tank hold 49,000 gallons of number two fuel oil
to provide a backup to the biomass and the natural gas.
This will provide the heat for campus for three days
in the middle of winter.
So in the event that we are not able to receive biomass and we
are not able to use natural gas from the grid as it may be
needed elsewhere, we can rely on this fuel oil tank to provide
additional heat, and then during those three days we can either
receive more trucks of biomass, return to the natural gas grid,
or get additional trucks of number two
fuel oil into the site.
So next, let's go take a look at one of the other
22 energy conservation measures that were done
as part of this overall $80 million project.
Here we have one of the other 22 energy conservation measures
that were installed as part of this
Renewable Energy Center project.
This is our new campus high voltage switch yard.
The university used to receive electricity from the grid from
three different locations, at 12,000 volts and 4,000 volts.
With this we now accept it at one point saving on the customer
charges and by receiving it at 69,000 volts we're able to take
advantage of better delivery service rates to allow us to
pay for this switch yard over time.
So next, let's take a look at our natural gas
feed coming into our plant.
Well here behind me is our natural gas
main coming into our plant.
This was a partnership opportunity with our local
utility company.
They were going to be running a new gas main directly in front
of our plant to serve more of the community,
so we partnered with them to enable us to connect
to that new gas main coming forward.
So let's head to the front of the plant to conclude our tour.
I want to thank everyone for coming on this virtual tour of
our renewable energy center here at Eastern Illinois University.
Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.
Thank you.
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