Arsenal's one-of-a-kind test to save environment, dollars
May 2, 2011
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y., May 3, 2011 -- The Watervliet Arsenal is undergoing a test - a first of its kind in the country - which is assured to get a lot of folks hot according to an Arsenal supervisor.
"United Technologies Corporation out of Connecticut has just installed a digitally controlled system on one of our steam boilers, and if all goes well, it will transform 1970s technology into a state-of-the-art system," said Richard Hoshko, the Arsenal boiler plant supervisor.
According to Hoshko, this test will run for up to one year and came at no cost to the Arsenal.
"This is a win-win situation for us because the new controls will save us money while better protecting the environment," Hoshko said.
Mike McCarron, senior design engineer for Fireye Inc., which is part of UTC's Fire & Security business, said that this is the first test of its kind in the country. UTC selected the Arsenal for the test due to its close proximity to its headquarters.
"We anticipate that if the test goes as planned the arsenal should attain about five to 10 percent better efficiency in its boiler operations, as well as to significantly reduce greenhouse gasses," McCarron said.
This new digitally controlled package, which is valued in excess of $200,000, added a computerized monitoring system that will automatically adjust air and carbon dioxide levels to improve the fuel efficiency of the boiler, McCarron said.
The Arsenal currently has four main boilers that provide heat for the workforce's comfort and for manufacturing operations. Some of these boilers were installed as far back as the 1950s and therefore, lack modern controls that would enhance the efficiency, as well as the environment. The boiler undergoing testing was installed in the 1970s.
But for a high-tech company such as UTC, finding someone who understands steam boiler plant operations might have been a challenge. After all, boiler plant occupations have been in steady decline for decades.
So, it should not have been a surprise to folks at the Arsenal when longtime Fireye employee "Red" Wagner walked into the Arsenal boiler plant during the start of the test. Wagner is a former World War II Merchant Marine and U.S. Naval Officer whose specialty was power systems. He received his Chief Engineer License from the Coast Guard in 1949.
Now 86 years old, Wagner is teaching much younger power system engineers the dynamics of mature steam plants. To witness firsthand the installation of today's technology on a mature system was only superseded by watching Wagner work his magic on a mature boiler system while younger engineers watched and listened. And, they truly listened.
The next significant event for the test will occur in the fall when UTC will check out a new trim system that will test carbon monoxide and oxygen levels during the boiler plant's start-up period.
McCarron added that if the test goes well there is great potential to upgrade existing mature boiler systems throughout the nation, at a fraction of the cost of full replacement, to be environmentally more friendly, as well as more efficient.