University of Michigan at Dearborn Replaces Old Steam System

The University of Michigan-Dearborn is a regional campus with an enrollment of 9,400 students. When the university opened in 1959, three large steam boilers located in the basement of its Engineering Lab Building provided heat and hot water to the campus via underground tunnels. After nearly 40 years it was time to begin updating the plant. 

Throughout a 20-year period, Gary Taylor, head of plant operations at UM-Dearborn, oversaw the replacement of surge and deaerator tanks as well as leaking underground steam piping and condensate return piping in multiple phases. In addition, the chemical treatment systems and procedures were revamped and updated to ensure protection of the plant equipment and systems. 


The main challenge was designing a new system to fit inside a 1950s-era boiler room when three-pass boilers were standard. In the original three-pass design, the flue and chimney stack ran out the back. 

Another major challenge was shutting down the old boiler plant and getting the new one up and running in the middle of an active construction zone.


The specs called for three 600-hp boilers, but the 600-hp 3WG boilers were too long for the space. Cleaver-Brooks engineered a 600-hp burner to fit inside the Cleaver-Brooks 3WG 700-hp shorter-length shell. 


Bringing the new boilers into the 1950s-era building was tricky. The boilers were balanced on two side-by-side forklifts and then lowered through a very tight opening in the side of the building. Installation went smoothly, and Cleaver-Brooks provided flow meters on major components of the boiler system so the facilities team can easily monitor the gas and steam flow rates as well as track the real-time efficiency of the boilers. 

"If you were to replace a three-pass boiler with a four-pass, you wouldn't be able to properly vent everything." 

Patrick Michels, D.J. Conley Associates

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