Educating the Public about Combined Heat and Power Systems

Conventional electricity generation is inherently inefficient with only about a third of the consumed fuel being converted into electricity. Steam that is typically discharged as waste heat can be recovered and used for building heating. During summer months recovered steam can power chillers to produce cooling water for building air conditioning systems. Worldwide these facilities are known as Combined Heat and Power (CHP), cogeneration or district energy systems.

Purdue University operates a combined heat and power (CHP) plant. The Wade Utility Plant was built in 1961 to replace the old North Power plant that was located on the site of the new Wilmeth Active Learning Center.  The North Power plant, opened in 1925, was also operated as a Combined Heat and Power facility. During its years of active operation, the North Power plant was one of the finest power plant laboratories in the country and was a great value not only for instructional purposes but also for engineering research.  The Wade Utility plant continues a Purdue tradition of excellence in facilities engineering with more than 90 straight years of efficiently supplying campus with electricity, heat, and air conditioning.

Students will be producing a Purdue University entry into the Campus Energy Student Video Contest.  Additional project objectives will be to disseminate the educational video and use their knowledge of the Purdue energy system to influence positive behavior change on campus.


Senior Design Team update:

The Purdue District Energy Communication team is working with Wade Utility Plant to produce a video for the International District Energy Association’s Campus Energy Student Video Contest. This video outlines Wade’s use of cogeneration; a process that recycles waste steam and distributes it to heat and cool campus. The video also details other aspects of Wade, including the implementation of environmentally-friendly practices, such as the burning of tire-derived fuel and the transition from coal-run boilers to natural gas boilers. The team is excited to be able to represent Purdue University on a national scale and highlight the environmental initiatives in place both in the utility plant and on campus.