Steam plant decentralization project


In 2004, Sandia National Laboratories, located at the Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., began researching what would be required to decentralize the steam plant that has been in use on the base for years. Due to the high cost of maintaining the steam system, the goal of the Heating System Modernization program was operational efficiency. Since 1949, Sandia National Laboratories has developed science-based technologies that support national security. Sandia is a government-owned/contractor operated (GOCO) facility. Sandia Corp., a Lockheed Martin company, manages Sandia for the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Engineers at Sandia National Laboratories worked with a local Albuquerque engineering firm, Bridgers and Paxton, to conduct a study to determine the best approach for the decentralization project. As the team of engineers evaluated the situation and considered different options, it turned to the Socha Co., which had previously supplied hydronic and domestic water heat equipment for new construction projects at the Sandia National Laboratories.

The Socha Co. recommended Lochinvar units for the decentralization project because of the boilers’ footprint, the ease of installation, high efficiency, and the unit’s ability to coordinate with the controls of the building management system used by Sandia National Laboratories.

In 2006, the engineering team selected EEA Consulting Engineers in Austin, Texas, to design the entire decentralized system. The engineers from EEA and Sandia National Laboratories met with the technical team at the Lochinvar factory in Lebanon, Tenn., to review specifications, controls, and delivery. After the meeting, the engineers decided that the project required 111 boilers during installation.

Construction began in 2007 and during that year 22 buildings were taken off the central steam plant. Boilers were installed in each building or, in some cases, a boiler plant for a group of buildings. One of the larger heating plants features 12 Power-Fin PBN2001 boilers, and the initial phase of the project required a total of 53 Lochinvar KNIGHT and Power-Fun boilers.

In 2008, the team installed 32 more KNIGHT and Power-Fun boilers, and the job was completed in 2009 when the last 26 Lochinvar units were installed. In total, the project converted 47 buildings from the centralized system to local boilers. The new heating system will save nearly 12 million gallons of water per year and will reduce both energy usage and pollutants by 60% from previous levels.

The 18,000-sq-ft steam plant was demolished in May 2010, which marked the end of the Heat System Modernization program at Sandia National Laboratories.

Information provided by Lochinvar.

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