Small test at Watervliet reveals huge potential savings for DOD
May 2, 2012
- Watervliet Arsenal was test bed to squeeze efficiencies out of mature boiler plants.
- Study shows significant potential to reduce DoD's energy costs, while helping the environment.
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. (May 2, 2012) -- Do you remember the old test days when you were in school? You may not have been able to eat or sleep, and for others, they sometimes developed strange rashes and other ailments that we won't go into. Suffice it to say that tests were very stressful to many of us.
But what may have been more stressful than taking a test? Finding out the results.
Well, the Arsenal has been undergoing a nearly $250,000 test for the past year and this month the results are in. But for once, the Arsenal didn't have to sweat it.
"United Technologies Research Center, out of Connecticut, installed a digitally-controlled prototype system on one of our steam boilers last year that transformed 1970s technology into a state-of-the-art system," said Richard Hoshko, the Arsenal boiler plant supervisor.
The Arsenal site was selected primarily due to its close proximity to UTRC and to Fireye, which is a division of United Technologies' Climate, Controls & Security Systems and is located in New Hampshire. Fireye supported UTRC in the development and installation of the prototype device. Another strong consideration as to why the Arsenal site was selected speaks to the Arsenal leadership's willingness to support testing of advanced technologies that may benefit the Army and the Department of Defense.
But the main selling point to the Arsenal leadership in allowing this test to occur was that the test came at no cost to the Arsenal. The Department of Defense's Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) fully funded the test.
Dr. Guido Poncia, who is the project leader at UTRC, said that when his company installed the new control module they anticipated the Arsenal would attain better efficiency in its boiler operations, as well as a significant reduction in greenhouse gasses.
So, with a sense of excitement and hope for solid test results, the Arsenal and UTRC waited … and waited until this month.
"During a one-year testing campaign between February 2011 and March 2012, the new system demonstrated a fuel savings of about 4 percent and a corresponding reduction of CO2 emissions," Poncia highlighted. "The investment in the new technology on a similar boiler burning natural gas would have an expected annual fuel savings of $125,000, and for a boiler using oil, the annual savings would be nearly $140,000."
The digitally-controlled prototype added a computerized system that continuously monitored the concentrations of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the exhaust fumes to optimally adjust the amount of fuel and air fed to the boiler, thus improving its efficiency, Poncia said.
But the results of this test may have a far greater consequences than simply improving the efficiency and environment at the Watervliet Arsenal.
Dr. Jim Galvin, the ESTCP Energy & Water program manager who was in attendance when UTRC rolled out its results, said "The Department of Defense is seeking ways to reduce its $4 billion-a-year energy costs at military installations. Watervliet Arsenal served a critical role as an energy test bed for the Department of Defense to find innovative ways to enhance boiler plant efficiencies."
"To replace boiler systems throughout the Department of Defense is too costly," Galvin added. "But if we can find a cost effective way to improve boiler efficiency, which saves energy and reduces the production of greenhouse gases, and do so with a relatively short investment payback period, then that process or modification may have great utility for the Department of Defense. This technology demonstration at the Army's Watervliet Arsenal appears to be meeting all those objectives."
According to Poncia, the estimated potential of savings across DoD, based on the demonstration at the Arsenal, indicates a nearly $56 million annual fuel cost reduction and the avoidance of approximately 600,000 tons of CO2 going into the environment each year.
The Arsenal has four main boilers that provide heat and limited power. Some of these boilers were installed as far back as the 1950s and therefore, lack computer controls that would enhance the efficiency, as well as the environment. The boiler undergoing testing was installed in the 1978.
The demonstration would not have been possible without the constant support of the Watervliet Arsenal, who hosted the demonstration, Poncia said.
"We acknowledge the amazing help we received from Rich Hoshko, the Arsenal's Boiler Plant Manager, and to Vanessa Duenas, the Arsenal's Energy Manager of Watervliet Arsenal, for supporting and enabling the demonstration," Poncia said.
The Watervliet Arsenal (pronounced water-vleet") is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility located in Watervliet, New York. The Arsenal is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States, having begun operations during the War of 1812.
Today's Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high tech, high powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National Historic Registered Landmark has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100 million.