Cleaver-Brooks | Penn State Case Study

Penn State Harrisburg Installs ClearFire®-LC Boilers, Increases Efficiency by Nearly 10 Percent

Case Study

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    • Institution: Penn State Harrisburg
    • Location: Middletown, PA
    • Profile: Undergraduate college and graduate school with 5,200 students
    • Challenge: Venting a new hydronic system in the existing six-story plant with a 50-foot-tall stack.
    • Solution: Install large capacity ClearFire®-LC boilers and vent them horizontally.
    • Results: Efficiency increased by nearly 10%; college is saving a penny to a penny-and-a-half per square foot

    Penn State Harrisburg is an undergraduate and graduate school of Pennsylvania State University, built on the site of a decommissioned Air Force Base in Middletown, PA. Established in 1966, Penn State Harrisburg today has 5,200 students and employs a staff of 700.

    When it first opened, the college relied on coal-fired boilers to heat the campus. Penn State Harrisburg replaced its legacy coal boilers with steam ones in the 1970s. In 2013, the administration approved the utility group’s request to transition from steam to hydronic boilers to increase efficiency and decrease operational costs.

    Daniel Barlup, supervisor of utilities for Penn State Harrisburg, and an in-house engineer researched many different types of hydronic boilers. They ultimately selected Cleaver-Brooks ClearFire®-LC (CFLC) 8000 boilers due to their large size and the company’s reputation for engineering reliable boilers. “We didn’t want a whole bunch of small boilers,” said Barlup.

    “We wanted bigger boilers because we would like to be able to keep adding capacity.” Penn State Harrisburg installed two CFLC boilers on the second floor of its plant in late 2014 and started heating the campus with them in February 2015. Moving the boilers into place was easy, according to Barlup.

    He said, “They lifted them up, craned them, and rolled them right into place in under an hour.”

    Cleaver Brooks Clearfire Boilers in Penn State

    Barlup added, “The boilers are so little compared to the space. They are big boilers, but in the space, they look like small residential ones.” During the installation phase, the biggest challenge was venting the new CFLC boilers in the existing six-story-tall plant, which has a 50-foottall stack. To overcome this challenge, Randy Rohl, sales engineer at Delval Equipment, West Norriton, PA, recommended venting the boilers horizontally instead of vertically. Together with Cleaver-Brooks, Delval set up the boilers for side-wall venting with a fan exhaust system that interlocks with the boilers. This solution saved the college a lot of money on the installation cost.

    Undergraduate college and graduate school with 5,200 students CHALLENGE Venting a new hydronic system in the existing six-story plant with a 50-foot-tall stack SOLUTION Install large capacity ClearFire®-LC boilers and vent them horizontally RESULTS Efficiency increased by nearly 10%; college is saving a penny to a penny-and-a-half per square foot

    Delval also set up the boilers with a switch for the fresh air intake to draw from either inside or outside the building. In the winter, the boilers draw air from inside the building, and in the summer, they draw air from outside the building. This flexibility enables the boilers to remain in their sweet spot for optimal condensing year-round.

    The plant’s two existing steam boilers were converted to heat exchangers that pump hot water to multiple buildings on campus and back. Delval retrofitted the hot water boilers into the campus’ hot water loop so Penn State Harrisburg could meet its desire to move away from steam.

    Barlup said Delval tuned the boilers, then the college ran them for a year to break them in. Barlup then had Delval return to reset the boilers so they would lock out at the top end of their sweet spot.

    He explained, “We’d rather bring on two boilers at partial in the sweet spot of the curve rather than bring on just one. One boiler only runs at 65% before it brings on the second boiler. When the first boiler gets above 65%, efficiency drops off fast, so it is more efficient to start the second boiler.”

    The CFLC boilers at Penn State Harrisburg operate at 87 to 90% efficiency, an increase of nearly 10% compared to the plant’s former steam system.

    The college figured out the payback on the equipment and concluded that moving from the old steam system to its new hydronic one, the college is saving between a penny to a penny-and-a-half per square foot.

    Barlup is also pleased with the reliability and durability of the CFLC boilers, adding, “They are working great, and they are bullet-proof.”

    In fact, the utilities group at Penn State Harrisburg like the performance of the CFLC boilers so much that they are planning to add a third one.

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