|Courtesy: Stanley Consultants |
As part of the University of Iowa Research Park’s efforts to promote renewable energy use, the new campus power plant’s engine generators are designed to operate primarily on landfill gas when the pipeline from the Iowa City Landfill is completed, with natural gas as a secondary fuel source. To make it more efficient, the plant’s waste heat recovery system captures waste heat from the gas engine generator’s cooling and exhaust systems to produce hot water for heating, or chilled water for cooling, campus facilities.
The new 2.8-MW Tri-Generation Power Plant exemplifies the University of Iowa Research Park’s (UIRP) commitment to sustainable energy and its green initiative for the future of its campus and surrounding community. The plant helps reduce the campus’s carbon footprint by reusing an existing heating plant building; by its choice of fuel sources and emission controls; and by centralizing the cooling, heating, and electrical service in one location. It also creates a hands-on teaching environment for the university’s engineering school.
With its versatile design, the plant will cut both carbon emissions and energy costs. “Even at partial completion we are receiving benefits. We can use the engine generators to offset load limitations from Alliant Energy. During testing phases at the new University of Iowa Information Technology Center, electrical demands often would have exceeded Alliant’s demand limit set for our campus. The engine generators are turned on to reduce the demand from the electric company, saving [the campus] thousands of dollars each time,” Steve Kottenstette, plant manager told POWER in July.
Using landfill gas is similar to using anaerobic digester gas, according to Tom Hickey, PE, who works for Stanley Consultants and is the project manager of the UIRP plant project. It is common for municipalities to utilize digester gas created in the breaking down of sludge at a wastewater treatment facility as a fuel supply for boilers or engine generators. Incorporating this process into the energy plan at an educational facility, however, is uncommon and is being made possible through a partnership between the University of Iowa, MidAmerican Energy, and Iowa City.