Thule boilers save big in first year

  • Published
  • By Lea Johnson
  • 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
In 2011, five exhaust boilers were installed at Thule Air Base, Greenland, to decrease the amount of JP-8 fuel used for heating the base and ultimately, save money.

Thule AB has five locomotive-style engines in its M-Plant that generate electricity for the base, said Randy Pieper, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron resource efficiency manager.

The electrical generators are only 35 to 40 percent efficient, he said, and most of the energy produced is wasted through exhaust heat.

Pieper compared the generators to a car engine.

"All of that (energy) is going out in exhaust," he said.

The purpose of the exhaust boilers is to capture the energy that would normally be wasted and use it to generate heat, an important job since the base in located 700 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

"Our goal is to capture as much of this heat from the engines as possible because the cost of JP-8 is so expensive," Pieper said. 

Just one year after the $8.3 million dollar project was completed and the boilers put into use, fiscal 2012 total savings was more than $2.2 million, helping the Air Force meet Department of Defense energy goals. According to Pieper, since the completion of the project in 2011, Thule AB has saved nearly 800,000 gallons of JP-8.

Constructed during the Cold War, Thule AB once housed 10,000 personnel. Today, that number stays between 750 and 1,000. The base is currently in the process of decreasing its size and its footprint.

"We are going to reduce the base (infrastructure) 38 percent," Pieper said.

Having more than 744,000 square feet less to heat and maintain will significantly increase Thule AB's annual savings.

Another project is in the works for fiscal 2013, Pieper said. A system is being designed to recover the heat from the radiators that cool the generators.

"This will make the overall system as efficient as possible," Pieper said. "It should cover all of the heating requirements for the base after the consolidation is complete."