Coal takes a back seat

Boilers, en route to ISU's power plant

A convoy of support vehicles escort two 80-ton boilers through the Pammel-Stange intersection Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

The three 80-ton boilers that arrived on campus Tuesday did more than slow traffic on Pammel Drive. They foretold a sizeable shift in university power use, as coal takes a backseat to natural gas.

Once the boilers are installed, the new power plant lineup -- three natural gas and two coal boilers -- will tilt energy use on campus toward the greener, more energy-efficient gas.

Green benefits

The new boilers bring many environmental benefits, said Lindsey Wanderscheid, project engineer in utility services. The amount of coal burned at the power plant will drop by about one-third, or 48,000 tons, annually. Gas and particulate emissions will be significantly reduced. And less coal burning reduces the amount of ash that must be disposed of.

"Generally, we'll run three boilers at once -- two gas and one coal," Wanderscheid said. "In the winter, when we have higher loads, a fourth boiler will be in operation."

Utility officials keep a close watch on market fluctuations in fuel prices when determining whether to run coal or natural gas boilers.

The 43-foot-long boilers were made in Lincoln, Nebraska, and transported by rail to Boone. Each arrived on campus Tuesday atop a special hauling trailer and accompanied by a small convoy of utility trucks and police cars. The last leg of the trip for the boilers was the stretch of Pammel Drive that runs from Hyland Avenue east to the power plant.


The boilers will be installed on the east side of the power plant at the site that once held coal and ash handling equipment. The old structures have been removed and construction of the building addition to house the three boilers is underway.

"The first of the three new boilers is scheduled to start up late this summer," Wanderscheid said. "All three should be in operation by the end of the year."

All boilers -- natural gas and coal -- connect to existing steam, water and electrical systems in the power plant and are used to produce steam (heat), electricity and chilled water (cooling) for the campus.

The $42 million boiler project was three years in the making, beginning with state Board of Regents approval in November 2012. The project is funded by utility revenue bonds, which are repaid through campus utility revenue. Net impact on utility rates for campus users was minimal.

A capitol day

Associate Business dean Danny Johnson and John Kooiker

College of Business associate dean Danny Johnson visits with Rep. John Kooiker (right), District 4, during ISU Day at the Capitol on Feb. 23. More than 25 Iowa State units took part in this annual event, an opportunity to share with legislators some of the ways the university serves Iowans. (Watch video.) Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Five Miller fellowships awarded for 2015-16

Five faculty proposals to develop new approaches for teaching undergraduate courses will share $56,000 in available funds for 2015-16, the 19th year of the Miller Faculty Fellowship program. Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert endorsed the recommendations of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) advisory board, which reviewed 17 proposals requesting nearly $210,000 in funds.

The five fellowship projects and their team leaders are:

  • Using Service Learning to Improve Students' Science and Math Literacy, $11,000
    Proposal team: Heather Bolles and Elgin Johnston, mathematics; Cinzia Cervato, William Gallus and Chris Harding, geological and atmospheric sciences; Craig Ogilvie, physics; Jane Rongerude, community and regional planning; Halil Ceylan, civil, construction and environmental engineering; and Lora-Leigh Chrystal, Program for Women in Science and Engineering
  • A Severe Weather Tool to Expose Students in Science Learning Communities to Authentic Research, $14,000
    Proposal team: William Gallus, Cinzia Cervato and David Flory, geological and atmospheric sciences
  • Moving the Agronomy 212 Lab Out of the Classroom and into the Field, $4,000
    Proposer: Erik Christian, agronomy
  • Designing Curriculum Involving Industry Participation: Assessing Student Learning Through Effective College-Industry Partnership, $15,000
    Proposal team: Shweta Chopra, Gretchen Mosher and Russ Hoffman, agricultural and biosystems engineering; and Mack Shelley, political science
  • Strengthening the Foundation in Effective Teaching for Education Students in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, $12,000
    Proposal team: Patricia Carlson and Vincent Genareo, School of Education

Projects will be completed by June 30, 2016. CELT advisory board members used these criteria in their assessments of all the proposals:

  • Capacity to improve the quality of the undergraduate curriculum for students
  • Enhancement of student learning outcomes and the student learning experience
  • Scholarship from the project that enhances the understanding of teaching and student learning in that discipline
  • Clarity of the project plan
  • Clarity, appropriateness and relevance of the proposed budget

The Miller Faculty Fellowships are funded by the estate of F. Wendell Miller, a Rockwell City attorney and farm manager who died in 1995. The bulk of his estimated $27 million estate created the Miller Endowment Trust, with income from the trust shared equally by Iowa State and the University of Iowa. Former president Martin Jischke established the fellowship program in 1996.

Play showcases Iowans in Civil War

Love and Honor promo shot

Clockwise from top left: Michael Clinkscales, Brady Carnahan, Keegon Jackson and Alexander Criswell portray the four Iowans who volunteered for the Union Army during the Civil War in ISU Theatre's Love and Honor. Photo by Nancy Thompson.

ISU Theatre will reprise its original production of Love and Honor: Iowa in the Civil War for two weekends, Feb. 27-March 1 and March 6-8, in Fisher Theater.

Written and directed by professor Jane Cox, the play is a story about four Iowans who volunteer to fight for the Union Army during the Civil War. Although it's a fictional account, Cox based the play on her research of historical documents, including diaries and letters from ISU's University Archives. Cox said she has reworked part of the script, so expect this year's production to be a little different than the original that debuted in 2008 as part of Iowa State's sesquicentennial celebration.

The soldiers -- John (sophomore Michael Clinkscales), James (sophomore Brady Carnahan), Tom (junior Alexander Criswell) and Alex (sophomore Keegon Jackson) -- have different reasons for joining the fight, and all wind up at the bloody Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee. Their stories also include the impact on the women they left behind -- a mother, wife and fiancee -- played by sophomore Mycallah Salvador (Margaret), freshman Rachel Henderson (Sarah) and junior Emily Linch (Jeannie).

Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $18 ($16 for seniors and $11 for students), available at the Iowa State Center box office or through Ticketmaster.