Constructed in 1945, the Power Plant for the University provided steam generated heat using three coal/woodchip fueled boilers to various facilities throughout campus.
In 2010, University personnel along with the consulting team of McClure Engineering and CM Engineering began a study to replace the steam infrastructure with a ground source heating system and to determine the impact it would have on the campus infrastructure. The study assessed placement for a piping loop and well fields along with current building system condition and makeup for such a change.
The Missouri University of Science and Technology campus created a geothermal energy system, which was a $33 million project that created three new geothermal plants to serve the heating and cooling needs of 16 buildings on campus, totaling over 1,000,000 square feet. These buildings included classrooms, laboratories, and offices. Additional spaces served by the geothermal cooling system, but not the heating water, include dormitories/apartments, a student center, and other classrooms and laboratories.
The system includes 645 vertical bore wells, each 400 to 440 feet deep, combined into closed loops serving the three plants. Those plants are housed in Straumanis James Hall, McNutt Hall and Bertelsmeyer Hall. Each plant contained 500 tons of Heat Recovery Chillers (HRCs), cooling towers for heat rejection, and natural gas-fired boilers for supplemental heating.
In addition to the three main geothermal plants, an additional geothermal system was created in the Gale Bullman Multi Purpose building/ Student Recreational Center. This system included 168 vertical bore wells.
The geothermal system uses the Earth as a battery to store rejected heat during the warmer months and extract it during the cooler months as a ground source heat pump. This project eliminated the deferred maintenance of the 40 year old coal and wood chip fired steam boilers in the power plant. Additionally, a two-pipe chilled water system sized for future expansion replaced the 40 year old single pipe chilled water loop.
The buildings utilized by the steam plant and single-pipe chilled water loop had a carbon footprint of 99.6 million lbs of carbon dioxide each year. Implementing the geothermal campus system was anticipated to decrease this carbon footprint by up to 50%, bringing the University much closer to its goal of carbon neutrality. The system was also projected to save 10 million gallons of water each year.
The geothermal system was anticipated to cut total energy use of the Education & General campus buildings in half and save $1.1 million per year in operational costs for a 27 year payback. The project also modernized campus infrastructure by eliminating over $26M of deferred maintenance. The system has been in operation since July 1, 2014. Utility bills have shown energy savings of approximately 57% compared to recent years.
Read more about this project in the McClure Paper .