The Central Heating and Chilling Plant provides 37 campus buildings (the tallest 26 stories high) with steam, chilled water and compressed air. It also operates 6 satellite boiler plants and 1 additional Centralized Heating Plant used to heat buildings not serviced by the campus central utility system. The plant is capable of producing 422,000 Lbs of steam per hour, 12500 Tons of cooling and pumps up to 31.5 million gallons of lake water to campus each day used to reject heat from campus buildings via its chilling equipment.
Superintendent: Mark Kazmierski
Assistant Superintendent: Mark Peters
Constructed in 1969, the UW-Milwaukee Central Heating and Chilling Plant is the second largest central plant owned and operated by the state of Wisconsin. It employs 17 full time workers who operate and maintain the Central Plant along with six satellite boiler plants and a lake water pumping station. This facility operates and is manned 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
The plant burns either natural gas or fuel oil to produce saturated steam at 130 psig. The maximum steam output is 422,000 pounds of steam per hour or 12,600 boiler horsepower. In cold weather the plant will burn as much as 24,000 gallons, or three tanker truck loads of fuel oil per day to keep campus buildings warm. Steam is supplied on a year round basis to 5 million square feet of floor space in 37 buildings, the tallest of these being 26 stories, for comfort heating, cooling reheat, domestic hot water heating, and several small process uses.
Chilled water is produced at the plant using three chillers, two York 2750 ton steam turbine driven chillers, one Carrier 3000 ton electric driven chiller and one 4000 ton electric driven York chiller. Primary chiller pumping uses variable speed drives to selectively balance cooling loads between the on line chillers. A half million gallon capacity de-coupled secondary loop circulates this chilled water through 30" diameter supply and return mains connecting to the campus buildings. Up to 25,000 gallons per minute of 42 degree chilled water is circulated through this piping network using two 500 horse power variable speed distribution pumps. For condenser heat rejection up to 31.5 million gallons of water per day is pumped from Lake Michigan to the Central Plant. The lake water is drawn into the lakeshore pumping station through a 4 ft diameter concrete intake pipe extending 3/4 of a mile out into and 40 ft below the surface of the lake. The use of cool lake water (42-70 deg.F.) takes the place of cooling towers and dramatically improves the energy efficiency of the chilling system.
Once produced, steam and condensate, chilled water and compressed air are piped from the Central Plant to campus buildings through a network of underground steam tunnels. Millions of dollars in operating costs are saved annually by using one central plant to provide heating and cooling for all of campus, versus having separate facilities for each individual building. The savings result from increased operational efficiency of scale and being able to purchase fuel in large quantities at a lower cost. There is also reduced manpower for central operation and maintenance of equipment and a reduced inventory of replacement parts. Although the plant is over 40 years old, it is upgraded on a continuing basis. This, along with outstanding maintenance practices, has extended its longevity and kept it on the cutting edge of technology, earning its reputation as being one of, if not the best, maintained and operated central plant in the state.