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Steam Plant

Steam Plant is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the central steam plant which serves both the main and agricultural campuses. More than 153 buildings, containing more than 8,000,000 square feet of space, are served by the Steam Plant. Steam is used for heating and domestic hot water in these facilities, as well as to operate sterilizers, autoclaves, etc. Eleven miles of underground steam pipe and return lines crisscross the main and agricultural campuses.

See the Steam Plant Conversion page for more information about the ongoing conversion from coal to natural gas.

Major components of the Steam Plant include

  • One spreader stoker fed, coal-fired boilers rated at 100,000 pounds per hour each, one boiler that can burn coal or natural gas rated 100,000 pounds per hour on coal and 70,000 pounds per hour on natural gas. One natural gas fired turbine generator rated at 5MW with heat recovery boiler. The heat recovery boiler is rated at 23,000 pounds per hour with turbine exhaust and can boost capacity to 110,000 pounds per hour with auxiliary duct burner. On average, 105 tons of coal are burned each day.

Other major components of the Steam Plant include:

  • Two natural gas compressors that boost fuel pressure to the turbine to 200 psig.
  • One roller type coal crusher. This crusher makes it possible to purchase nut and slag coal for the Steam Plant. The crusher is used to convert nut and slag (0 to 3 inches in diameter) into stoker coal (1/4 inch to 1 ¼ inches in diameter) when necessary.
  • One coal conveyor and storage bin system. Coal comes out of the crusher onto a conveyor and elevator system which loads the coal into 200 ton capacity bunkers located above the boilers.
  • One 3-cell electrostatic precipitator. This precipitator traps the approximately one tone of fly ash generated each day, and brings particulate matter emissions well within the EPA standards. The fly ash is conveyed to a closed container for transport.
  • Truck scales. The university receives its coal by truck. The scales, certified by the State of Tennessee, are used to weigh each truck delivering coal. The ticket generated by the scales serves as the basis for payment for the coal. The coal delivered is randomly tested to ensure that it meets the conditions specified in the contract.
  • Water treatment and testing equipment. Water must be treated before being introduced into the boilers to prevent the build-up of scale corrosion. Water is tested and treated continuously, and the process also allows for the identification of problems with the steam distribution system.
  • Emergency generator: The Steam Plant has a 900 horsepower emergency generator which can power the plant during an electrical outage. The generator is powered by fuel oil. The 6,000 gallon tank ensures that the plant can operate for several days in the event of a severe electrical emergency.

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