university of adelaide, waite plant accelerator

Project: New Tri-Gen installation
Project Value: $2,000,000
Project Date: 2011
Project Description:

The Waite Plant Accelerator is a facility used for the experimentation on plants and their growth.
As such, there is a high demand for electricity, cooling and heating as the building is effectively a giant greenhouse with strictly controlled ambient conditions for simulation of different climates, with experiments lasting many years.

This project involved the integration of a new Tri-Gen system on to the existing building electrical, heating and chilled water systems. Tri-gen involves the production of Electricity, Heating and Chilled Water.
Equipment installed as part of the project included

  • 3 x 65kw Gas Fired Microturbines – Capstone Models G65-HG4-DC00
  • 1 x Broad Indirect Fired, Single Stage, Hot Water Absorption Chiller – Model Ref BDHX88/98-37/30-7/14-30
  • 1 x Cooling Tower – Balticare Model Ref: PTC606-P3-1
  • 4 x 9000l Heating Water Storage Cylinders
  • Flue Systems
  • All associated pumps, expansion vessels and ancillary system equipment
  • BMS

Electricity is generated by three gas fired Microturbines, either run together or individually, depending on electrical load. These are operated to supplement grid supplied electricity when the demand is above a certain level for the building.

As a by-product of the electricity production, heat is generated by the burning of gas. Flue mounted heat exchangers are then used to harness and use the waste heat and these took the form of water coils which, when heated, provided water at 95˚C. This hot water was then used in an Absorption chiller to generate chilled water for use in the air conditioning systems. In addition, the hot water was also stored at the high temperature for later use when the Microturbines were not in operation which allowed the Chiller to continue to produce chilled water. The hot water was also used for building heating when needed. By using the absorption chiller, the electrical chillers cooperation was reduced, thereby further saving electricity.

There was a high degree of control required to protect the grid and ensure correct operation of the systems and integration with the original building management system.