Upgraded Fermilab Facility Saves Energy and Money

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  • Kurt Riesselmann, Fermilab Office of Communication, media@fnal.gov, 630-840-3351

DOE names Central Helium Liquefier a Showcase Facility

In a ribbon-cutting ceremony today (September 26) at 2:00 p.m. the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory will officially start operating its latest energy-saving equipment that will conserve enough energy to power more than 200 households, cutting the laboratory’s annual electricity bill by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The completion of a new compressor and cooling tower, critical elements in Fermilab’s unique liquid-helium cooling system, will reduce power consumption by one megawatt. In appreciation of this achievement, the Department of Energy will present today the Energy Saver Showcase Award to the Central Helium Liquefier plant, where the new equipment is located. The award describes the one-million-dollar project as a model for other laboratories around the country.

“This has been a complex energy-saving project, not the usual ‘replacing old light bulbs with energy-efficient ones,'” said Steve Krstulovich, member of Fermilab’s Facilities Engineering Services Section. “In the last two years, the Utility Incentive Program has allowed us to invest 60 million dollars in energy-saving projects. We have worked closely with our utility companies and identified more than 100 projects that would pay for themselves.”

The Federal UIP program funds energy infrastructure and conservation improvements that will result in savings exceeding the initial investment within 10 years. It allows commercial utilities -like ComEd and Nicor Gas-to suggest and provide new facilities and receive payment through resulting savings in energy costs.

The Showcase Award for the CHL facility highlights Fermilab’s leadership role in the UIP program. The laboratory has accounted for more than one third of the 170 million dollars spent at DOE sites across the country.

The CHL facility has seen upgrades worth more than four million dollars in the last four years to meet the increased demands of Collider Run II at Fermilab’s Tevatron, the world’s highest energy particle accelerator. Run II began in March of this year. With the help of Nicor Gas and its contractor, Borg Mechanical, Fermilab engineers were able to complete the recent UIP project on a tight six-month schedule. They expect the new CHL compressor and cooling tower to pay for itself within three years as it allows more flexibility in meeting the cooling demands of the Tevatron’s one thousand superconducting magnets, which operate at a temperature of -452 degrees Fahrenheit to conduct electrical currents without resistance.

Fermilab is a Department of Energy national laboratory, operated by Universities Research Association, Inc.