By the time the project is completed in 2014, Missouri S&T’s carbon footprint should be reduced by 25,000 metric tons per year and its water usage cut by 10 percent, the university said. Initially, the system is expected to save more than $1 million annually in energy and operational costs, but those savings are expected to grow to $2.8 million a year.
The college’s geothermal energy system will replace its coal-fired power plant, which was built in 1945, eliminating a backlog of about $26 million in deferred maintenance costs for the aging power plant, the university said. Those costs include the replacement of boilers, steam lines and other antiquated infrastructure.
The geothermal project is set to provide heating energy to 15 buildings, as well as cooling energy to a chilled-water system that serves much of the campus.
Construction of the geothermal system will begin in May with the drilling of ground-source wells around campus. Pipes will be installed in the wells and connected to create closed geothermal loops. Water will be circulated through the loops from three geothermal plants.
The system will allow energy to be stored in and reclaimed from well fields around campus. Approximately 600 wells will serve the three geothermal plants. Two of the three plants will be placed in existing buildings, and the third will be housed in a new, purpose-built structure that will also be home to the college’s chemical and biological engineering department.
Each of the three plants will contain heat pump chillers, supplemental cooling towers and gas-fired boilers to provide geothermal energy to surrounding areas of campus.
The project will be funded through the sale of $32.4 million in revenue bonds, approved by the university’s curators in November 2010. The university plans to repay the debt over 30 years through savings from the project.
Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., is set to complete the first half of what it says will be the largest geothermal heat pump in the U.S. this spring. The pump will cut the university’s carbon footprint roughly in half, the school says. It will also eradicate almost all of its $3 million annual fuel bill, but will cost about $1 million a year in electricity to run, newspaper reports suggest.