University of Cincinnati Campus Energy Update

The University of Cincinnati campus covers nearly 8 million ft2. The campus is landlocked and in the middle of a built up urban area. It is subject to EJ considerations.

The Central Utility plant was constructed in 1993 to house the combined cycle plants, which allowed the shutdown of coal units. There are two gas turbines that feed HRSGs, which feed a steam turbine for power generation. There are 4 gas/oil fired boilers to provide steam, as well as backup diesel generators for summer use. The university has committed to 50% carbon reduction by 2035 and carbon neutrality by 2075. There is a climate action plan, but limited accountability in terms of reaching those goals. Implementing ideas to achieve these goals is a major challenge.

The combined cycle plant, installed in 2003, has generated renewable energy credits. An underground chilled water plant was installed in 2008. One of the peaking generators can use biodiesel. The two coal fired boilers were converted to wood pellets. However, problems with the feed systems and fuel supply led to the shutdown of these units. Chilled water systems are being upgraded with smart, multi compressor systems. Some green power is purchased from the utility. Wind power is the primary source. A real time data system is being installed to provide complete system data to identify potential opportunities for energy savings. A 1.5 Mw solar array is planned. Biodiesel blending is considered when oil firing (backup fuel) is needed. Hydrogen blending with natural gas is being considered for the gas turbines. Hydrogen supply is currently an issue. The PEMS system would have to be modified for such blends. Small modular nuclear reactors are being studied. The “nuclear battery” concept appears to be more attractive (shop assembled, 10 year life, plug and play). These units might be a long term solution.

– Sheri Bussard, University of Cincinnati