York U celebrates installation of ‘boiler of the future’

Energy management was a hot topic on Friday, March 2 when the York University community marked the installation of the University’s first new boiler at the Keele Campus in more than 45 years.

CSBO boiler

Brad Cochrane, York’s director of energy management; Nancy Simoneau, owner and president of Groupe Simoneau; Carol McAualay, York’s vice-president finance and administration; and Richard Francki, York’s assistant vice-president CSBO

CSBO boiler

The “Nomad” boiler

The new boiler, which produces 100,000 lbs/hr of steam, replaces two 1960s-era boilers (boiler 1 and boiler 2) as part of the larger$17.4-million Central Utilities and Co-generation Upgrades project, and was the subject of a ribbon-cutting ceremony held in the Central Utilities Building (CUB).

“In 2016, York successfully applied for and was granted federal and provincial subsidy grants in support of the ongoing renovation of this Central Utilities Building,” said Carol McAulay, York University’s vice-president finance and administration. “I would like to acknowledge the federal and provincial contribution of almost $10 million towards this project, as well as York’s own investment of over $7 million.”

Replacing a boiler is not as simple as one might expect, however, and the journey was likened to “overhauling an airplane while in flight” by Richard Francki, York University’s assistant vice-president of Campus Services and Business Operations (CSBO), who said “in our case, the airplane is full of students and staff, we are in the middle of winter and we suffered the equivalent of a massive lightning strike.”

As the energy management team organized the roll-out of the CUB’s multi-faceted upgrade project, it had to devise a plan to keep services functioning on campus – providing steam (heat) and chilled water to the University during the overhaul of the plant, as well as electrical power.

“That was a little tricky,” said Francki, “because much of the infrastructure was being addressed.”

Boiler 4, considered the ‘workhorse’ for the campus, was out of commission while the team worked to replace the control systems and address deficiencies. Boilers 1 and 2 were demolished; boiler 3 was aging; and boilers 5 and 6 were shut down during the replacement of the gas turbines.

CSBO boiler

Blueprints from the original 1906s-era boilers

“So we were down to a very thin margin of boiler capacity as we came into this winter season,” he said. “Boiler 3 was really the principal boiler, and 5 and 6 came online as the gas turbines were reinstated.”

And then in December, CUB suffered a major electrical fault in one of its substations. Already in a situation of reduced capacity, the team reinstated boiler 4 and successfully continued to provide all of the vital services to the University.

Francki also noted the team was up against an aggressive deadline to select and procure a new boiler, and commended the work of Brad Cochrane, York’s director of energy management, for making swift work with Groupe Simoneau, who undertook to modify and ship the new boiler from Montreal to Toronto.

Nancy Simoneau, president and owner of Canadian boiler manufacturer Groupe Simoneau, addressed the crowd and commended York University for “standing behind its core mission that is developing tomorrow’s talent and future.”

The energy efficient “Nomad” boiler, she said, will operate for the first time at its full-rated capacity, and together with engineering students, Groupe Simoneau will monitor and evaluate its performance and efficiency for the next 10 years.

“Today, two Canadian organizations have teamed together to achieve the common goal of pushing further the standard of clean energy production by manufacturing and installing the boiler of the future,” said Simoneau, who also applauded York University for working with a female-owned company.

“York is the kind of organization we should be looking at when it comes to having a positive influence on our Canadian society,” she said.

CSBO boiler

The women highlighted for their contributions to the project

With the event leading up to International Women’s Day, Simoneau was among a group of women highlighted for their contributions to the project, including:

  • staff from CEM Engineering who were involved in the application process and conceptual design;
  • welding staff from Trade-Mark Industrial who worked on installation of the boiler;
  • staff from Lakeside Process Controls involved with boiler controls and commissioning;
  • electricians from both Marcomm and Rondar Inc.; and
  • Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change abatement Officer Linda Cioffi, who reviewed the updated air permit for the project.

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