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Ball State prepares to idle its coal-fired boilers

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Ball State University officials are preparing to stop burning coal at the campus steam plant as the school pushes ahead with its partial conversion to geothermal energy.

Ball State engineering director Jim Lowe said the four coal-fired boilers dating to the 1940s on the Muncie campus will be shut down by Thursday. That will bring an end to the school's annual burning of up to 36,000 tons of coal that released sulfur dioxide and other air pollutants.

Ball State is investing $80 million to drill about 3,600 boreholes for a geothermal system that uses deeply buried pipes to tap the Earth's natural capacity to both heat and cool.

The plant's three natural gas-fired boilers will continue to produce steam for heating and hot water for campus buildings.

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  • Congrats
    on some forward thinking. Now if only a world class engineering school in this state had a visionary leader to propel it into the 21th century...oh yeah, never mind.

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  1. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

  2. 85 feet for an ambitious project? I could shoot ej*culate farther than that.

  3. I tried, can't take it anymore. Untill Katz is replaced I can't listen anymore.

  4. Perhaps, but they've had a very active program to reduce rainwater/sump pump inflows for a number of years. But you are correct that controlling these peak flows will require spending more money - surge tanks, lines or removing storm water inflow at the source.

  5. All sewage goes to the Carmel treatment plant on the White River at 96th St. Rainfall should not affect sewage flows, but somehow it does - and the increased rate is more than the plant can handle a few times each year. One big source is typically homeowners who have their sump pumps connect into the sanitary sewer line rather than to the storm sewer line or yard. So we (Carmel and Clay Twp) need someway to hold the excess flow for a few days until the plant can process this material. Carmel wants the surge tank located at the treatment plant but than means an expensive underground line has to be installed through residential areas while CTRWD wants the surge tank located further 'upstream' from the treatment plant which costs less. Either solution works from an environmental control perspective. The less expensive solution means some people would likely have an unsightly tank near them. Carmel wants the more expensive solution - surprise!

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