Ramos Takes 2nd in Video CompetitionGraduate student David Ramos, advised by Associate Professor Nam Sun Wang, received 2nd place in the Clark School Sustainability Workshop's video contest, held in late April. The contest asked students to propose ideas that could be used to help the A. James Clark School of Engineering reduce its carbon footprint by reducing the energy consumption of its buildings and laboratories. Ramos worked with fellow student Rick Burks (Art) to produce "Condensation Innovation: The Art of Steam Recycling."
From the rooftops of engineering buildings on campus, Ramos and Burks pointed out the clouds of steam released from heating systems into the air. This steam could be recaptured and used for other purposes that would usually require the generation of additional energy.
After the steam gives of its energy, it condensates into hot water, and is temporarily held in receiving tanks before being pumped back to the campus power plant. Each tank has an exhaust pipe or vent, and it is from these that the clouds of steam seen on campus freely emerge. Ramos and Burk estimate that currently we lose 850 pounds of steam per hour as it escapes from the receiving tanks. But by adding a demister to any steam vent, more of the steam will lose energy and fall back into the hot water condensate. The campus power plant will then be able to reuse more of it.
Production of steam on campus currently costs about $33 per 1000 pounds. Reclaimed steam in the form of hot condensate could save the campus up to $10,000 a month.
Hot water condensate can also be used instead of steam to heat domestic water in campus buildings. Using the Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building as an example, Ramos and Burk show that setting up a revised heating system would require an initial investment of approximately $3200 in parts and labor, and require no ongoing maintenance.
"I think contests are catalysts of creativity and an opportunity to show your potential out[side] of the classroom," says Ramos of the experience. "Each team member had different strengths and when we put them together we got a winning product...not only were we rewarded [for] our idea, but also the environment wins if we reduce energy consumption."
Published May 8, 2009