WPAFB undergoing final conversion from coal-fired boilers to natural gas

Submitted photo The coal stacks in Area A central heating plant before demolition.

Greene County News

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE – Coal was used for the last time this past winter as a fuel source for the high-temperature, hot water boilers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Beginning in the heating season for 2016, Wright-Patterson will be fully heated by natural gas-fired central heating plants.

The stack was removed by the Beavercreek-based Butt Construction Co, part of the Walsh-Butt joint venture, which won the competitively bid contract.

“Part of the whole conversion project was the demolition of the coal stack located in the Kittyhawk Center in Area A. There were three original coal-fired boilers and only two of them are being converted and as part of that, the stack was removed,” said Jesse Poorman, utilities asset manager and mechanical operations engineer. “The project was run through the Army Corps of Engineers.”

In Area B, the steam-generating plant was converted in 2015. The Area A plant will be converted by this fall. The deadline for environmental compliance as dictated by the Environmental Protection Agency is Jan. 31, 2017.

“What drove this is about 12 years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency passed rules that required better pollution controls. The base did a study to figure out the most cost effective means of meeting those new regulations. As a result of a life-cycle cost analysis, the project to convert to natural gas was started,” said Poorman, “The project is working very well.”

A fourth boiler was installed at the plant in 1996. This boiler already uses natural gas for fuel, and as part of the project has been upgraded with an updated and more efficient control system. It will be the go-to for startup for generating centralized heat. It will be in operation by the start of the heating season.

“Bag houses were the first to come down,” said Daniel Morrison, deputy chief of operations. “They were pollution control devices — stainless steel bags that the chimney flue gasses passed through. Then the conveyer systems and the silos that were used for coal storage were demolished. Most recently, the shaker house where the rail cars delivered the coal and the trucks dumped the coal when they came in is now gone. The elevator is the next to go. All that is happening this summer.”

The project is getting done on time and is in compliance. The last of the coal was burned this spring. There is significant cost savings by no longer maintaining the conveyer equipment or the bag houses, which collected the coal dust.

All the equipment to keep the system operational that was taken down during the construction — the spare parts, conveyer belts, stokers, and other equipment were loaded on pallets and left on a truck for the Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. Eielson still utilizes coal and will realize a huge savings on the spare equipment that they need to keep in stock to ensure reliable operation of their boiler plant. All the metal removed during the construction will be recycled.

The coal-fired plant in Area A was built in the mid-1970s and the plant near National Road in Area B was built in 1946.


Submitted photo The coal stacks in Area A central heating plant before demolition.
http://xeniagazette.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_160811-F-ZZ999-1001.jpgSubmitted photo The coal stacks in Area A central heating plant before demolition.

Story courtesy of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Story courtesy of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

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