Ferrum College installs biomass boiler

By Ferrum College | May 01, 2015

Ferrum College is now one of the greenest private colleges in Virginia since its new Biomass Energy and Research Facility began supplying thermal energy to heat seventeen College buildings this semester. Designed and installed by English Biomass Partners, a joint venture of English Boiler & Tube Inc. of Richmond, Virginia, and English Construction Co. of Lynchburg, Virginia, the facility allows the college to provide green energy to the campus in support of its sustainability goals through carbon reduction and increased energy efficiency.

The Biomass Energy and Research Facility, consisting of two separate boilers designed to burn sustainable fuels, was initially fired up in spring 2014 to provide supplemental heat to the campus and test the basic operations. The main boiler system, using wood chips from local suppliers as its primary fuel, provides the energy needed for high temperature hot water district heating and domestic hot water systems to campus buildings serviced by a central hot water loop system.

The second smaller steam generating system, a boiler that will eventually be used for research and development, is designed to combust not only wood waste, but agricultural crop waste or other alternative energy fuels, grown specifically for use as alternative fuels.

“We are proud of this new facility, which serves as an example of Ferrum’s commitment to sustainable initiatives,” said College President Jennifer Braaten, who noted that in the future the instructional component of the research and development boiler will give Ferrum College faculty and students a working lab in which to study green energy technologies. Students from other area institutions will also benefit from research opportunities, as will farmers and land owners interested in growing alternative biomass fuels.

Biomass boilers are designed to burn sustainable fuels at extreme temperatures in which emissions, primarily in the form of steam, fall well within the guidelines prescribed by the U.S. EPA and the Department of Environmental Quality.