This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

New technology to heat pools

Published: October 24, 2002

Reporter Editor

The university will produce some of its own electricity and use a by-product of the generation process to heat the swimming and diving pools in Alumni Arena, thanks to $310,000 in incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

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» New York State Energy and Research Development Authority

UB will partner with NYSERDA, Gerster Trane Sales and Services, Inc., and National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. to install and operate a new combined heat and power (CHP) system that will use emerging micro-turbine technology to produce electric power.

CHP systems typically double fuel-use efficiency when compared to delivering power from centralized power plants, according to NYSERDA. The project is expected to reduce UB's annual electrical usage by about 2,000 megawatts hours per year—or enough to power more than 300 homes—resulting in more than $70,000 in annual energy savings.

The total cost of the combined heat-and-power system is $620,000, with NYSERDA providing half the funds from its Distributed Generation/Combined Heat and Power Program.


UB will produce some of its own electricity and use a by-product of the generation process to heat the pools in Alumni Arena.

Two 60 kilowatt Capstone micro-turbines with heat-exhaust recovery capabilities will provide electric power to the pumps that continually circulate water in the swimming pools in Alumni Arena. Approximately 75 percent of the waste heat from the micro-turbine will be recovered and used to heat the water in the pools, virtually eliminating the need to use the existing electric heaters. The CHP system to be used at UB is designed to pre-heat 1 million gallons of water in the Alumni pools.

Michael Dupre, associate vice president for facilities at UB, noted that the project also will allow the university "to study the future benefits of additional cogeneration facilities to better manage electrical costs and to assist in the reduction of peak demands burdening the regional electrical-utility systems."

NYSERDA President William M. Flynn called UB "a leader in education and a strong economic catalyst for Western New York."

"By stepping up to the plate and installing this innovative combined heat and power system, UB is proving itself a leader in implementing energy-efficient, environmentally sound energy technologies that will lower operating costs. Less money spent on energy will mean more money for educational resources."

David F. Smith, president of National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp., noted that electricity rates are higher in Western New York than the national average. "There are many opportunities for businesses and organizations like UB to incorporate this CHP technology to save on their energy costs in environmentally friendly ways," Smith said. "We commend the university for its commitment to this micro-turbine project and its creative approach to reducing its operating costs at this facility with modern energy technologies."

Funding for the UB project comes via NYSERDA's Distributed Generation/Combined Heat and Power Program, which promotes the development and demonstration of distributed generation systems, components and related power-system technologies, as well as combined heat and power applications in industrial, municipal, institutional, commercial and residential sectors.

It is a component of NYSERDA's New York Energy $martSM program, which is designed to lower electricity costs by encouraging energy efficiency as the state's electric utilities move to competition.

The CHP project is the second such innovative energy project UB has undertaken in recent months. The university earlier this month entered into an agreement with Community Energy, Inc. that makes UB the first campus in the SUNY system to buy a portion of its electrical power from a commercial supplier of wind-generated power. UB will purchase the output of an entire wind-powered, 1.5 megawatt turbine.