After decade of planning, new boiler arrives on campus

By Kimber Williams | Emory Report | July 25, 2016

Watch as Emory's behemoth new boiler is lifted into place by a 550-ton crane, after spending weeks traveling from Canada to Atlanta welded to a train. Five central boilers provide steam for campus heating systems and other key functions.

A new 55-ton boiler capable of producing 100,000 pounds of steam per hour was delivered on Tuesday, July 19, to Emory’s Central Steam Plant, taking its place with the University’s four industrial boilers.

Boiler Number 10, as it is called, will serve as one of five central boilers that help power campus heating systems for the University and Emory Healthcare. It replaces Boiler Number 5, which was decommissioned and disassembled in May.

Transporting the massive, oversized load to Emory was a logistical challenge involving international travel and significant planning with CSX railway, says Karen Salisbury, chief of staff and director of customer relations and support for the Office of the Vice President of Campus Services.

Fabricated in St. Catharines, in Ontario, Canada, the boiler was placed on a train for transport to Atlanta on the CSX rail line, which threads throughout the eastern United States. To ensure a safe journey, the boiler required a clear rail line with no wide load trains passing it on opposing tracks, according to Salisbury.

During the trek to campus, the boiler — which was temporarily welded onto the train for stability — had scheduled layovers in several cities along the route, some lasting as long as a week. As a result, the exact time when it would arrive at Emory could not be confirmed in advance.

To facilitate installation, a 550-ton commercial crane was brought to campus in sections and assembled onsite behind the steam plant for the purpose of lifting the behemoth boiler from the train to the plant.

Once the train arrived at the plant, the installation crew had roughly six hours to remove the boiler from the train — the window that CSX allowed for that section of rail line to be tied up, Salisbury says.

Replacement of the boiler has been planned by Emory’s Division of Campus Services for more than 10 years. Before transporting the boiler to campus, Jody DiCarlo, steam plant operations manager, traveled to Canada for an inspection.

The new boiler will not be put into full use until later this fall, when temperatures begin to cool, Salisbury says. The new boiler will be operated at a higher pressure, allowing the use of a steam turbine generator that will produce enough electricity for the steam plant and several additional buildings. It will also be used to reliably meet the new steam demands of Emory Hospital’s new J-wing facility.

Over a year, the steam plant produces approximately 800 million pounds of steam, which helps warm offices, classrooms and residence halls; sterilize equipment in hospitals and clinics; stabilize temperature-controlled research; and assist with food preparation and sanitation in campus kitchens.