Image of the boiler renovated with UC Davis deferred maintenance funding.

Boiler #1 has been operating now for almost six months as the backup boiler at the Central Heating and Cooling Plant despite its decommissioning almost two years ago. This boiler constitutes about 23 percent of capacity for the plant and can produce 100,000 pounds of steam an hour.

“It’s an oldie, but a goodie,” Janice Stires, the plant engineer, remarked. The boiler, originally commissioned in 1967, ran for almost 50 years. After that long in service, Facilities staff opted to retire it due to age and reliability concerns. 

Now, as the campus forges forward in its plans to become more sustainable and reduce carbon emissions by converting from steam heat to hot water heat, redundancy plans are needed in case an operating boiler goes down in the interim. If Boiler #1 was not available as a backup, the loss of any boiler could have had a detrimental impact to normal research and operations – this is the risk that drove the decision to bring Boiler #1 back to life.

“We didn’t want to purchase a new boiler and build a plant to go with it at a cost nearly $14 million only to have it become obsolete once the campus completes the hot water conversion project in five to 10 years,” explains Stires. “Recommissioning the boiler costs around $200K, it’s more cost effective and timely.”

From August to October 2017 Boiler #1 went through inspections, major internal and exterior repairs, testing and permitting to make it operational again.

“The biggest benefit [of repairing the boiler] is reliability,” emphasized Stires. “Something always happens and this provides our campus with extra security between now and when our upcoming hot water heating system is in place.”