While combined heat and power (CHP) systems are known for improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions, the biggest benefit of these systems for many facilities is energy reliability. That means CHP systems are a natural fit for mission-critical facilities such as healthcare. In Engineered Systems, Alex Corvino, a mechanical engineer at engineering and professional services firm WSP, describes the key factors to consider when designing cogeneration plants for healthcare buildings, using Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas, as an illustrative example.

“Dell Children’s utilizes a [combined cooling, heat, and power] system with a 4.3-MW gas-fired turbine in an on-site utility plant built in collaboration with Austin Energy, the local municipal utility,” Corvino writes. The system supplies all of the hospital’s electricity, steam, and chilled water requirements. The turbine’s waste heat is used in a heat recovery steam generator to produce the steam used for facility heating, and a two-stage absorption chiller produces the chilled water for cooling. Excess electricity is sold to Austin Energy’s grid, while excess chilled water is distributed to nearby facilities.”

Just as importantly, the hospital can continue operating uninterrupted during a power outage, allowing the building to function as an emergency shelter during emergencies or disasters. While the Dell Children’s project is connected to utility gas, facilities constructed off of natural gas lines are able to fuel the same resilient CHP technology using propane. Check out our recent dispatch from Hawaii, where propane-fueled CHP systems are proving their resilience and efficiency value.

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