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That’s a Cool Idea
Air upgrades to improve comfort, reduce water use
By Al Snedeker

When you think cool you might think blue. However, at Hartsfield-Jackson, it’s cool to be green.

Step by step, the Airport is taking green strides toward reducing its carbon footprint and conserving resources. In fact, a new project underway in the passenger terminal will eliminate boiler stack emissions and potentially save millions of gallons of water.

To meet demands for air conditioning, the Airport’s Terminal Central Utility Plant (T-CUP) is being upgraded. New, more efficient electric water chillers will replace the existing 30-year-old steam-powered units.

Rock on to Electric Avenue

The new electric-powered system will eliminate the need for natural gas that currently fuels the older steam chillers. “Obviously, using steam to generate chilled water in this way is an old technology and not nearly as clean, efficient or cost effective [given today’s market conditions] as using electricity,” said Eric Hall, principal mechanical engineer.

“We had considered simply upgrading the steam-based system, but when we looked at current electrical infrastructure and capacity, along with the Airport’s plans for the future, we determined now was the time to make the move to an electric-based plant,” said Hall.

Three new electrical water chillers in the T-CUP and planned upgrades to the E Concourse utility plant will provide as much as 23,000 tons of cooling power for the Airport. That’s enough to cool about 4,600 average family homes!

“When these and other planned upgrades are complete, we’ll have more than enough cooling capacity for the existing passenger terminal and for future needs, including the Maynard H. Jackson, Jr. International Terminal and other Airport expansions,” said Hall.


Cool, Clear Water

Although the new system can produce enough chilled water to cool more than 2 million square feet of enclosed space, improved controls allow engineers to increase the overall efficiency of plant operations while reducing water use. Variable flow valves, improved rooftop cooling towers – which limit water loss due to evaporation – and the elimination of the need for steam, are just some of the elements of the project contributing to potentially save millions of gallons of water annually.

Along with saving water, T-CUP upgrades should also save money for the Airport.

“We should see a definite reduction in annual operating costs associated with the T-CUP. The new plant cuts water and chemical usage and requires fewer work hours to maintain,” said Hall. “More efficient equipment and converting from gas to electricity as a primary power source will allow for significant reductions in our base utility costs.”

Enabling work for the T-CUP upgrade is currently in progress, including pipe modifications, valve isolations and electrical system improvements to handle the new chillers. The renovated plant is scheduled to be completed by May 2009.

© 2008 Hartsfield-Jackson News. A Publication from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. All rights reserved.


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