Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Thule boilers save big in first year

(Courtesy photo)
Exhaust boilers at Thule Air Base take the excess heat from the electrical generators and use it to heat the base.

By Lea Johnson

21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — 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 has five locomotive-style engines in its M-Plant that generate electricity for the base, according to 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.

A year after the $8.3 million dollar project was completed and the boilers put into use, the total savings for Fiscal Year 2012 totaled $2,231,000, helping the Air Force meet Department of Defense energy goals. According to Pieper, since the completion of the project in 2011, Thule has saved 797,687 gallons of JP-8.

Constructed during the Cold War, Thule 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’s annual savings.

Another project is in the works for FY13, 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.”

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