RU Is Chilling with High-tech, Energy-saving Technology

Keeping cool at RU is getting greener—and less expensive.  

The Department of Facilities Management is installing high-tech, energy-efficient chillers as it renovates buildings across campus, including Moffett Hall.

The magnetic-bearing centrifugal technology used in the new equipment is similar to that by which so-called maglev high-speed trains are suspended above their tracks with a magnetic field. When used for cooling, the technology slashes both costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Last summer RU installed a 215-ton magnetic-bearing centrifugal chiller below the stage in Preston Hall. Use of a magnetic field enables the unit's turning parts to float, thus eliminating friction, reducing noise and increasing efficiency. Within three months of bringing the unit online to cool Preston, Martin, Reed and Curie halls, the university realized energy cost savings of more than $20,000, with reductions of more than 100,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity and almost 72 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Paul Ely, manager for capital outlay, explained that magnetic-bearing centrifugal chillers can make cold water for about 0.4 kilowatt per ton, compared with about 0.75 kilowatt per ton for a similar chiller using nonmagnetic bearings.

As a signatory of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, RU has set a goal of climate neutrality by conserving resources while reducing costs and greenhouse gas emissions. For more on all of the university's sustainability activities, visit RU Sustainability.

Feb 9, 2012
Don Bowman