Central Utility Plant Expansion

Texas A&M University


Due to load growth on the main campus, plus the premature failure of several large absorption chillers, Texas A&M University was unable to meet peak cooling loads.  Several large centrifugal chillers had to be rented and temporarily installed at significant cost.

Shah Smith & Associates, Inc. was retained to design plant improvements to meet the load, while also upgrading the plant for more efficient operation.  A satellite utility plant, which connected to the same thermal utility distribution systems, was to be included in the upgrade.

Limited fund availability required that part of the initially planned project scope be postponed.  SSA addressed the problem of how to get the most value and recommended installing larger chillers in the main plant than originally planned.  SSA was able to show how the larger chillers could fit the available space and provide all of the immediately needed capacity within the available budget. Four-2500 ton chillers were installed along with new chilled water pumps, controls, and piping.

As part of the chiller procurement, SSA obtained and evaluated bids on constant speed and variable speed drive chillers with the energy evaluation based on bin analysis of operating loads and cooling tower temperatures throughout the year.  The size of chillers required use of medium voltage variable speed drives, which have only recently become cost competitive for this application.

Detailed analyses were made of existing chilled water pumping systems and cooling towers resulting in recommendations that significantly improved plant efficiency.

A 500 HP gas fired hot water boiler was added to the Satellite Utility Plant to provide adequate capacity during the peak heating months, and to help unload the hot water distribution system.