During the week leading up to Earth Day, Missouri University of Science and Technology officials will break ground on a geothermal energy project that is expected to reduce the campus’s carbon dioxide emissions by 25,000 tons a year while cutting annual energy use in half.
The geothermal project groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, on the lawn northeast of Emerson Hall, the campus’s electrical and computer engineering building. The area is located near the intersection of North Pine and West 16th streets.
The event is open to the public.
In 2010, the University of Missouri System Board of Curators approved Missouri S&T’s plan to construct the geothermal system to replace Missouri S&T’s power plant. The plant, constructed in 1945, relies on coal and wood chips to provide steam for use in heating and cooling most buildings on campus.
Initially, the geothermal system is expected to save more than $1 million annually in energy and operational costs. That savings is expected to grow to $2.8 million a year. The project will also eliminate a backlog of about $26 million in deferred maintenance costs for the aging power plant. Those costs include the replacement of boilers, steam lines and other antiquated infrastructure.
The geothermal system is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25,000 tons per year and cut water usage by about 10 percent, or 8 million gallons per year.
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 campus geothermal plants that will be constructed as part of the project.
The system will allow energy to be stored in and reclaimed from well fields around campus. Approximately 600 wells will serve the three campus geothermal plants. Drilling will begin in May and continue through the summer.
The geothermal plants will be housed in Emerson Hall, McNutt Hall and a new chemical and biological engineering building at 11th and State streets that will be constructed in 2013 and 2014. 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.
Once the geothermal project is completed in 2014, it will provide heating energy to 15 campus buildings as well as cooling energy to the campus chilled-water system, which serves much of the campus. Stand-alone equipment will be housed in the remaining campus buildings that currently are heated by steam from the power plant.
Upon completion of the geothermal project, the power plant boilers will be decommissioned.
The project is funded through the sale of $32.4 million in revenue bonds, approved by the curators in November 2010. The university plans to repay the debt over 30 years through savings from the project.
More information about the geothermal project is available online at geothermal.mst.edu.