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Energy Efficiency

Duke U Turns to Natural Gas, Steam To Improve Efficiency

Duke University has entered a partnership designed to provide cleaner and more efficient power for itself and the surrounding community.

As part of the partnership, Duke University will partner with Duke Energy, which will build, own and operate a 21-megawatt natural gas combined heat and power (CHP) installation on the university's Durham campus.

Pending approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC), "the plant would use the waste heat from generating electricity to produce thermal energy and steam needed for the university, making it one of the most efficient generating assets in the Duke Energy generation fleet," according to a news release. "The electric power would be put back on the Duke Energy electric grid to serve the university and nearby customers."

In addition to the power, the system would produce approximately 75,000 pounds of steam per hour, which would be used to produce hot water and more. The system would eliminate the university's energy-related carbon output by about a quarter and may in the future be used to provide back up to increase reliability for hospitals and clinics.

"This partnership will provide value for Duke University and will accelerate our progress towards climate neutrality," said Tallman Trask III, Duke University's executive vice president, in a prepared statement. "By combining steam and electricity generation systems, we can increase efficiency and reduce our overall consumption by millions of units of energy each year, and have a positive effect on the community at large."

If approved, the $55 million project is scheduled to begin production in 2018.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].

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