FORT WAYNE, IND. – Indiana Tech has been awarded a grant of $1.34 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund an innovative geothermal research project on the university’s Fort Wayne campus. Indiana Tech will partner with Fort Wayne-based WaterFurnace International, a world renowned manufacturer of ground source heat pumps and geothermal systems, to research an innovative 130-ton geothermal project using technology not yet available commercially and never implemented at this scale in the United States.
“This is such an important project, not only for our university, but for the United States and the world,” said Indiana Tech President Arthur E. Snyder. “WaterFurnace is pioneering technology that will make strides in alternative and renewable energy sources. To have our faculty and students working alongside them in this research is very exciting.” Indiana Tech offers a bachelor’s degree in energy engineering, and professors and students in the program will work with WaterFurnace’s research and development scientists to monitor and test equipment and analyze the findings. The research results will help WaterFurnace further its development of geothermal products and processes, and data will be shared publicly to advance knowledge of the benefits of ground source heat pumps worldwide.
“We are developing innovative and cost effective compressor and control technologies, as well as a system that uses carbon dioxide as a refrigerant,” said WaterFurnace President and CEO Tom Huntington. “Coolant sources that have traditionally been used, like Freon, can be harmful to the environment, so this is an important step forward. Indiana Tech is the perfect university for us to work with to conduct research that can offer significant advances in the energy industry.”
The unique five-year project is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The geothermal field will be connected to the university’s administration center, converting it from a gas-fired boiler system. The new energy source is integral to a larger renovation project for that building. Originally constructed in the 1850s, the building is being modernized with green technology to achieve silver certification from LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Other buildings on campus also will be connected to the new geothermal system.
“The geothermal field and the green renovation of the administration building will offer our engineering students a living laboratory to investigate cutting edge developments in alternative and renewable energy design with leaders in that field,” said Dave Aschliman, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences.
The project will be implemented immediately. Installation of the geothermal equipment is expected to begin in spring 2010.
Also involved in the geothermal system and building projects are the architectural firm, Viridian Architectural Design, and Primary Engineering, the mechanical and electrical engineers. Michael Kinder and Sons is the construction manager.
The total cost of the geothermal project is $2.68 million. In keeping with governmental requirements, the university will contribute half of the total cost. The conversion to geothermal energy will result in increased energy efficiency on campus and ultimate cost savings.
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