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Eastern Works with UTCP on Campus Fuel Cell Project

Written by Amy Brenner-Fricke

Cover alternative Science Building -dpw image.JPGWillimantic, CT -- Eastern Connecticut State University has a long-standing commitment to energy conservation and sustainability that dates back nearly two decades. Today, Eastern is working with UTC Power Corporation (UTCP) on a project that will increase energy efficiency at the University.

Under a 10-year Energy Services Agreement (ESA), UTCP will furnish and install a PureCell Model 400 kW Class I combined heat and power fuel cell generating facility at Eastern. The PureCell system Model 400 is a stationary phosphoric acid fuel cell power plant that is capable of producing 400 kilowatts of continuous, reliable electric power while generating usable waste heat.

"We have a campus-wide commitment to sustainability at Eastern, evidenced by campus conservation programs, the sustainable energy studies curriculum, and our outreach across Connecticut in support of local energy efficiency efforts," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "We are delighted to work with UTCP on a fuel cell generating facility that will provide clean, reliable and affordable energy to the University."

The fuel cell, which is expected to be operational next April, will be installed on the west side of Eastern's Science Building. Electric output from the cell will be routed to the main electric room located in the building.

Eastern will use 100 percent of the energy produced by the fuel cell system to provide a majority of the power required for the Science Building while maximizing the use of the heat output available from the plant. Supplemental heat generated by the operation of the fuel cell will be utilized by Eastern's infrastructure. With effective utilization of the thermal output, overall system efficiencies of up to 90 percent are possible -- more than double that of traditional power sources.
 
Other examples of Eastern's commitment to sustainability can be found throughout the campus. The Science Building is LEED Silver Certified for its use of gray water to irrigate and its many other green features, and three of Eastern's residence halls are LEED Certified. In addition, a geothermal system provides heat and air conditioning to the 62,973-square-foot High Rise residence hall, the largest geothermal-heated building in Connecticut. The campus also generates 6.2 kilowatts from photovoltaic solar panels to light bus shelters, trash disposal areas and building perimeter lighting.

In addition, dual-fuel burning capability in Eastern's heating plants allows the University to switch from gas to oil and vice versa based on prices and/or the requirements of its gas utility agreement.  Water-saving features exist on a number of showers, toilets and urinals. Finally, an energy-monitoring system analyzes energy usage for each building, and can automatically reduce electricity usage through preprogrammed initiatives, to reduce peak demand and energy costs. Eastern is also home to the Institute for Sustainable Energy, which is recognized and widely respected throughout New England as an invaluable resource for supporting sustainable energy conservation efforts in municipalities and public schools.

The latest agreement to install a fuel cell generating system follows on the heels of an announcement that Eastern was been named one of the nation's Green Colleges for 2011 by The Princeton Review and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This is the second year in a row that Eastern has received the designation.

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