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New ORNL steam plant is saving money and the environment

5:06 PM, Jul 19, 2012   |    comments
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The Oak Ridge National Laboratory has reached a milestone in their plan to save energy.  The Biomass Gasification Steam Plant at the lab was dedicated Thursday.

Steam is used for heat and to run systems all across ORNL. This renovated steam plant replaces 4 old boilers that once burned coal then natural gas to make that steam.

This new system uses waste wood chips. Instead of burning the fuel the wood is turned into a gas. That gas fuels the boiler that makes steam.

The plant saves $8 million dollars a year and greatly reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the lab's missions is to demonstrate new energy saving technology.

"The federal government, as you know, is the largest energy user in the country and as such we have the responsibility as the federal government to ensure that we can demonstrate new technologies and provide leadership to the American people, making sure that we are leaders in energy innovation," said Dr. Timothy Unruh, D.O.E. Program Manager.

The 77,000 tons of waste wood used at the plant each year comes from local sources. In the past it would have ended up in landfills.


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