Hartford (N.Y.) Central School District has opened a new alternative energy plant, and is the first public school in New York State to use wood chip gasification technology to heat district facilities.
The 2,000-square-foot plant is adjacent to the 84,330-square-foot K-12 school. It features expansive windows on three sides that will enable students and the community to visualize how the system works. Within the plant, wood chips travel by way of an auger from a fuel bunker into a gasifier where they are heated to extremely high temperatures, ignite and create gas. The gas is burned in a standard boiler to produce hot water, which is distributed throughout the school’s hot-water heating system. The system can operate at part or full capacity depending on heating demand. The district estimates that the plant will burn 1,600 tons of locally sourced wood chips in its first year of operation.
The school district expects to generate long-term cost savings as a result of the alternative energy plant. Two years ago, the district paid $150,000 for oil. Chips to provide the same heat would have cost $45,000. The Alternative Energy Plant’s 12-ton steel boiler generates enough heat to serve the entire school, as well as a technology building on the campus.
CSArch Architecture - Construction Management (Albany, N.Y.) is architect for the project.