Yale’s Central Power Plant is being refitted for the future

February 18, 2022

When the Central Power Plant (CPP) was constructed in 1918, the mechanical systems within this neo-Gothic structure were an advanced development in energy production and distribution. As with any historic building, staying current involves a commitment to renewal. Having been updated with a west addition in 1999, and a north addition in 2010 to supply more effective power generation to Yale’s central and science areas, CPP is receiving another upgrade: four new cooling tower cells.  

“This process involves a reconfiguration of the roof area where these large units will be positioned and provides new mechanical equipment that more effectively connects the new towers with an existing network,” said Daniel Kondracki, Utilities Project Manager for the Office of Facilities. Replacement of a motor control center and upgrade to its instrumentation and control system as well as the introduction of new fans and gear boxes will increase energy efficiency. 

The construction effort is underway, and a key component of this project is the introduction of pipes that feed warm water between the building’s energy production systems and tower cells for heat exchange. A process where the water temperature is lowered through contact with air, and through evaporation, cools the water before it is pumped back into the condenser to reabsorb heat. 

A series of large, interconnected pipes were assembled on the ground and hoisted via crane through an opening made in the building’s brick façade. A team of pipefitters recently squeezed one such set of pipes into place, in an area with little wiggle room. “The effort saved the crew a lot of time and from having to hoist each pipe section separately, then assembling it in such a small space,” said Dan. 

Once the exterior opening is closed, and roof area replaced, the next step will be to construct the cooling tower.Photo credit: Ronnie Rysz