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Steam Plant


Tommy Oakley

General Superintendent

Phone: (865) 974-2476
Fax: (865) 974-7786

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 plant’s conversion from coal to natural gas which was completed in 2016.

UT Steam Plant Boilers:
The #1 boiler is a converted coal fired boiler, which can produce 70,000 pound of steam per hour with either natural gas or #2 diesel. Boilers #2, #3, and #5 can produce 80,000 of steam per hour with either natural gas or #2 diesel. The natural gas fired turbine generator is rated at 5MW with a heat recovery boiler. The exhaust from the turbine can produce 23,000 pounds of steam per hour, and with the use of an auxiliary duct burner that can bring up the output to 110,000 pounds of steam per hour.

Use of Natural Gas:

The Steam Plant is supplied natural gas from two separate sources. A new 8” gas line that comes in at 450 psi and is reduced 225 psi for use in the gas turbine. It also goes through another set of pressure regulators that reduce the pressure to 40 psi to be used in the boilers. The old 6” gas line is still in service and provides natural gas at 185 psi. In the event of the loss of the 450-psi gas line the plant still maintains two 300 HP gas compressors that boost the gas pressure up to 225 psi, which are needed for the Solar gas turbine generator.

Emergency Generator:
The Steam Plant has a 2937 horsepower emergency generator that can produce 2 megawatts of electrical power in the event of electrical outages.
The Steam Plant also has seven fuel oil storage tanks to supply fuel oil to the boilers in case of curtailment of our natural gas supply.

Water Treatment & Testing Equipment:
Water must be treated before being introduced into the boilers to prevent build-up of scale corrosion. Water is tested and treated continuously, and the process allows for the identification of problems with the steam distribution system.