On several of the most frigid days of winter, appropriately, two electric-powered chillers were delivered this week to the north chilled water plant from San Antonio, Texas.
With five other chillers, four of which are steam-driven, they'll assist with the process of cooling building air on central campus.
Each of the new chillers weighs about 55 tons empty, and includes two cylinders and a drive unit. The move-in process involved lifting each cylinder from a flatbed with a crane, fixing it to a temporary steel beam support system and "rolling" it to designated pads (on a reinforced floor) in the chilled water plant using inflated air floats, a cable and winch, and lots of human guidance. A 10-member team from Baker Group and Barnhardt Crane and Rigging did the work.
Once they're operational, sometime in April, assistant director for utility production Lindsey Wanderscheid said the two chillers will increase service capacity on central campus by 30 percent. They'll be performance-tested this summer, when outside temperatures heat up and demand is high on the chilled water system, she said.
Development on the west side of campus and opening the Advanced Teaching and Research Building later this spring are increasing the demand for chilled water service, which keeps building air temperature from getting too warm. On central campus, just over two million gallons of water recirculate in the closed chilled water system. At each building, chilled water flows through air handling units to provide cooling.
This week's delivery is part of a $22 million project to expand the campus' chilled water system. Besides the chiller installation, it involves adding underground chilled water piping and extending more electrical service to the north chilled water plant from the main power plant.
Wanderscheid said the main and north chiller plants now are full. Dependent on campus growth, plans recommend building a third chilled water plant in west campus around 2030.