Indiana University Central Heating Plant

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Indiana University's Central Heating Plant began in 1955 with two coal-fired burners, with two more boilers in 1960, a fifth in 1965, and a sixth in 1970. In the 1990s, two boilers were converted to natural gas.[1]

According to the university website, the "coal plant at the Indiana University Bloomington campus burns 60,000 tons of coal each year. It is all stoker-grade Indiana coal with moderate sulfur content burned at 11,200 Btu per pound. The plant generates steam for heating, cooling, and processes, such as cooking or for research uses."[2]

In December 2012 the Indiana University Board of Trustees voted to allow the existing coal boilers at the Central Heating Plant to expire within the next few years.[3]

Emissions

2005 plant emissions, according to the Bloomington Herald Times:[1]

  • 1,331 tons of sulfur dioxide.
  • 385 tons of nitrogen oxides.
  • 76 tons of fine particulate matter, or soot.
  • Almost two tons of volatile organic compounds.

In 2007, IU’s campus emitted 418,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. About 40 percent, or 167,200 metric tons, of that came from the heating plant. Coal is trucked to the plant from local mines, most within an hour’s drive.[4]

Coal source

The 68,000 yearly tons of coal used at the plant is mined by Peabody Energy,[1] and trucked to the plant from local mines, most within an hour’s drive.[4] Peabody trucks the fly ash from the plant back to mine sites.[1]

Pollution controls and coal phase-outs

In 2005, at the prompting of the state legislature, IU studied outsourcing the heating operation but rejected the idea as more expensive than retaining the coal-fired plant. The university also concluded that switching to natural gas would increase fuel costs by $12 million to $15 million a year.[1]

In 2007 the university undertook at $34 million project to replace two 1950s-era coal boilers with natural gas, and to add scrubbing technology (lime and activated carbon injection) that would sulfur dioxide emissions by 45% and mercury emissions by 50%. According to university officials, the project would meet the requirements of MACT.[1]

IU was researching ways to absorb its CO2 emissions with algae.[4]

In December 2012 the Indiana University Board of Trustees voted to phase out coal and allow the existing coal boilers at the Central Heating Plant to expire within the next few years. They will set a timeline to meet these goals. This decision came after students from Coal Free IU coordinated a national call-in day to the offices of the Trustees and the President.[5]

Resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Steve Hinnefeld, "Power plant upgrade to reduce emissions," Bloomington Herald Times, June 3, 2007
  2. "Energy," Office of Research and the University Graduate School, Volume XX, Number3, January 1998
  3. "IU Trustees approve energy master plan, students react," Sierra Club press release, December 7, 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Nicole Brooks,"Research at IU seeking ways to make coal power greener" Indiana University, March 13, 2009
  5. "IU Trustees approve energy master plan, students react," Sierra Club press release, December 7, 2012.

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