Business students present energy-saving projects
April 25, 2005 —
A number of students from Dr. Mark McCartney's Managerial Accounting class presented their course projects on Monday, April 18 in front of a group of SVSU faculty and Jim Chosay, the Pinconning maintenance supervisor whom the proposal was complied for.
Cass Ferris, Delores Ford-Heinrich, Jim Freier, Kevin Flatt, Lucretia Leitz, Pam DeSham and Pradmodh Kumar all worked to bring the presentation together, having worked since January to research and finalize their presentation.
Their proposal centered around the projected financial savings that could be possible if Mt. Forest Elementary in Pinconning implemented a "BioMass Boiler" as an additive heat and power source for the school building.
Saginaw Valley State University has also looked into using the BioMass Boiler as an option for additional heating when adding on a new wing to Pioneer Hall in the next few years.
Dr. McCartney and Dr. Chris Schilling came up with the idea to use this boiler as the topic for the course project because of some research that had been done at Penn State, as well as through a trial run at the K-12 schools in Darby, Montana.
The presentation began with an introduction to the advantages of the BioMass Boiler by Mr. Rick Scheele, the maintenance supervisor for the Darby schools.
Scheele described how the BioMass Boiler burned woodchips and other wood scraps that were bought and donated to fuel the school's new boiler. The wood is a known renewable fuel source in the area of Darby due to its many forested areas. Loggers are able to prevent the burning of scrap piles, pick up more from the sites of logging and also help to clear the forest floor of debris from dead and dying trees to lower the risk of forest fires.
The Darby School District was able to get grants from both the United States Department of Agriculture as well as the Montana Department of Natural Resources to be the guinea pig for this form of energy production. The implementation of the boiler has reduced the maintenance time needed on the school's boilers, has lowered the heating bill per year to about a quarter of the cost of natural gas heating, and has helped keep the loggers and environmentalists in the area happy. Scheele said that "if the boiler was to be taken away from him, he would resign." Scheele sees all positives in the maintenance and financial aspects that have benefited his school district.
As Ferris and his fellow classmates explained through their presentation, the BioMass Boilers can burn wood scraps, pellets, or chips, as well as corn and its by-products. Corn, especially in the Saginaw Valley area, is a resource that is plentiful. The ease of gaining access to and transporting corn in the area has definite advantages to allowing for the highest levels of financial benefit to Pinconning and SVSU if the policy to add a BioMass Boiler is implemented.
The boiler and its fuel storage unit is only thirty feet by sixty feet, which is relatively small compared to the space needed for a conventional natural gas boiler. The installation of a MesserSmith brand boiler costs around $355,400. The fuel delivery of the estimated 5,450 bushels of corn needed to run the boiler in Pinconning would be delivered in two shipments and cost an average of $818 per year. The average savings for the projected thirty year period by Pinconning Elementary School's switch from natural gas to corn would be between four and eight dollars per Btu (British Energy Unit).
The estimated savings for Pinconning's Elementary School comparing the prices of natural gas and corn over a thirty year period would be $306,000 in the best case price scenario and $155,000 in the worst case price scenario. These estimates include the cost for installation and maintenance, but these prices are included in the current budget for the school so the savings after the first year would be even more significant. SVSU as well as Pinconning would also have a better chance of having fuels donated by area farmers and from having fuel vendors haggling for the lowest possible bids.
The future of energy could actually be a return to those materials that were used hundreds of years ago before the age of oil and natural gas.
For more information on the BioMass Boiler project contact Dr. McCartney (989) 964-4301 or Dr. Schilling at (989) 964-2601.