The WOU Campus is supplied steam and hot water through three Cleaver- Brooks boilers and one Kewanee boiler. This is the heart of the Campus steam system. The boilers run throughout the entire year 24/7. Normally 1 – 2 boilers will be running at any one time. We have redundancy to allow for coverage during boiler repairs or regular boiler maintenance. They are dual fuel boilers and primarily use natural gas. If there is a curtailment (stoppage in supply) of the natural gas, we must switch to our backup fuel (Diesel fuel oil). We have a 12,000 – gallon underground tank that can supply enough Diesel fuel to run the boilers for about a week depending on the demand.

The steam travels from the boilers though our large main steam line that is either buried in the ground or run inside tunnels throughout Campus. Once the steam arrives at its destination it is carried through smaller branches of pipes to be distributed to the individual pieces of equipment to be used as building heat or create heating water for heat, as well as heat domestic hot water for consumer use.

As the steam begins to lose heat it will turn back into water and this is known as condensate. This does begin to happen as soon as it leaves the boiler. The condensate can be drained from the pipes though valves or traps (a trap will open for water and close for steam). Once the steam has been utilized it can be returned to the boiler plant through the condensate lines. This condensate water is either recycled through the system again or removed. As some of the water is removed makeup water will need to be added to the boiler to ensure a consistent supply of steam is being produced. It is important to note that the water used in this process must be the right temperature and quality to ensure an efficient operation of the boilers as well as becoming less corrosive to the inside of the steam lines.

Boilers have been in use for over a hundred years and is a safe and efficient way to supply the Campus with domestic hot water and heat.