Virginia Tech Rentech water tube boiler

Virginia Tech boiler room 3

A new Rentech water tube boiler found it’s way onto Virginia Tech campus. Virginia Tech is in the process of converting their central steam power plant from coal to natural gas as they move toward more eco-friendly methods of producing power, heat, hot water and compressed air to their campus. Part of the university’s Climate Action Commitment, the renovation will cut the plant’s greenhouse gas emissions by half this year and 80% by 2050. Part of this process meant the installation of a new Rentech D-Type water tube boiler, which called for an unbelievable amount of scheduling, coordination and engineering just to get it to the door.

When it comes to rigging, installing or changing out large mechanical equipment, such as boilers, chillers and cooling tower in pre-existing buildings, Southern Air’s Industrial Service department takes the reins. This department was created ten years ago to support our service branches as a response to companies requiring this type of work. We found our service and construction teams were typically unavailable to offer manpower due to their workloads and schedules. Having a standalone Industrial Service Department made sense and they’ve been busy ever since.

Virginia Tech purchased their new boiler from Rentech, a boiler manufacturer out of Abilene, Texas. Just transporting the 145,000lb heating system involved extensive planning. The 109-foot trailer required a staggering 13 axles to evenly distribute the weight of the load. A movement of this size called for civilian and police escorts as well as permits from states and VDOT dictating the best route based on roadway weight capacities, bridge clearances and even traffic conditions. To meet travel requirements, the boiler had to be shipped on its side. Had it been an inch wider, transportation would have only been authorized at night.

Once the boiler arrived at Virginia Tech, offloading it took numerous teams of tradespeople, campus security and two cranes from Commercial Steel Erection, who developed the rigging plan. Orienting the boiler required two cranes to not only lift it off the trailer, but rotate it 90° before placing it on the ground. The “smaller” 250-ton crane departed the job site shortly thereafter.

Virginia Tech built a steel platform, utilizing four large jacks underneath, to support the boiler’s weight prior to bringing it into the second floor of the power plant. After being delayed a day due to high winds, CSE’s crew first lifted a turntable for the boiler to be placed onto. This was necessary as it was too long to enter the building and needed to be spun 90° as it came inside to align correctly.  Once in place, it was time for the critical lift by a 550-ton crane.

In the next few months, they will install the economizer, Predictive Emissions Monitoring System software, instrumentation on the boiler, steam and feed water piping, as well as the safeties before commissioning and preforming pre-start up.

It’s Virginia Tech’s boiler from there.

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