Busch Cogeneration Plant uses heat to power campuses


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Photo by Nikhilesh De |

The cogeneration plant on Busch campus utilizes three dual-fuel five megawatt turbines to produce electricity and heat water for the Busch and Livingston campuses. 


Even though the Busch and Livingston campuses have distinct characteristics, they share the Busch Cogeneration Plant, which provides energy and hot water to both campuses. 

Robert Williams, the chief operations engineer of the Plant, said he oversees operations and ensures it is operating efficiently and safely. 

“I do this by taking any feedback from the technicians to schedule repairs and or services needed to be done on the equipment,” Williams said.

Built in 1995, the Plant was originally just three high temperature hot water boilers. The University decided to adjust in response to a growing carbon footprint due to the ever-expanding infrastructure by creating a cogeneration plant, Williams said.  

The process of cogeneration involves a single fuel source, such as natural gas, to produce both electrical and thermal energy. 

“At the Busch facility, we have three dual-fuel five megawatt turbines,” Williams said. “These units produce electricity from the engines, and the exhaust from those engines is used to heat the water that is used throughout the two campuses.” 

The only other byproducts from the Plant are exhaust emissions that escape up the smokestack, Williams said. In accordance to a mandate by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the emissions, including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, are monitored within the facility. 

Williams said the efficiency of the Plant will increase or decrease based on the age and maintenance of the equipment. He said most cogeneration systems typically achieve total system efficiencies of 60 to 80 percent for producing electrical and thermal energy.

He said the facility is environmentally friendly because of the nature of the equipment and also because they are mandated by the NJDEP to monitor and abide by the standards they have set for the Plant.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency recognized the Plant in September 2000 with the Combined Heat and Power Certificate, according to an article published online by Rutgers Focus.

The certificate was issued to the Busch Cogeneration Plant for utilizing heat that used to be wasted in energy production, allowing the facility to be more cost-effective while minimizing the amount of pollutants released. 

Managed by the EPA’s “Energy Star” program, the new program under the EPA encourages energy efficiency and pollution reduction. Rutgers is only one of three facilities honored with such a certificate, according to the Rutgers Focus article. 

Alice Kwon, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said she thought it was “amazing” that the Busch and Livingston campuses ran on energy and heat generated by a University facility. 

“I think it’s a very efficient way of doing things,” she said.

|Ji-Yeong Son, an Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy second-year student, said it is beneficial for the University to present an environmentally friendly image.

Williams said the facility is monitored by a minimum of two highly trained technicians at all times in case an issue occurs. He said they are trained to handle any problems and have the ability to stop and start faulty equipment as needed. 

The facility also has built-in redundancies, so if a piece of equipment fails or needs to be shut down, a back-up piece of equipment can be turned on in its place, Williams said. He said students would not notice if the back-up was being used.

“If a point arises where there was a significant change in the supplied utilities to the campus, a campus-wide notification would then be sent out with the details of the issue, and the Plant would do its best to fix the issue as soon as possible,” Williams said.


Tiffany Zhu

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