WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – To ensure Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s natural gas steam heat boilers are ready for the coming winter months, Bill Livesay, Boiler Plant supervisor, leads his team in bringing up the steam mains each October.
The Environmental Protection Agency required Wright-Patterson AFB to convert coal boilers to cleaner natural gas because the Miami Valley is a non-attainment zone, and there are strict limits on pollution.
The two big boilers were converted from coal to gas in Feb. 2015, and both are ready to provide heat Area B this winter. The third large boiler was demolished after the other two big ones were converted to gas.
“Every year during the first two weeks of June the boilers are shut down and all work is finished on things that had to be done when the plant could not be running,” Livesay said. “We took one year working alongside contractors running one system while we converted the other boilers to gas.”
“Even though coal is cheaper to burn, it would have been more expensive to update the entire heating systems with new pollution controls to meet the clean air standards,” Livesay said. “Also, in cold months, coal was very hard to load and unload because it would all freeze together and natural gas is piped in today making the process so much more efficient.”
The two small boilers that were installed in 1989 have always been gas, but they have been updated with the same new controls as the two big ones. The power of the boilers is 532 million BTUs output per hour with all four running full tilt, according to Livesay. The heat plant uses the two big boilers unless the base endures prolonged cold temperatures of under zero degrees. At that time the plant fires up the two small backup boilers, he said.
“The conversion process was very interesting and challenging at times, but with years of experience and a good team we were able to meet those challenges and make the conversion on time and on budget,” said Livesay.