#97-108 Mailed 10/31/97
Contact: Diane Greenberg, or Mona S. Rowe




Flexibility to Heat Facilities with Oil or Gas
Reduces Emissions, Saves Money


Upton, NY - The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory has converted to gas heat, but it has retained its capacity to heat with oil. The use of gas heat reduces emissions that contribute to air pollution, while the flexibility of heating with gas or oil cuts fuel costs.

The Laboratory has agreed to purchase natural gas over a period of about three years from the Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO) to heat approximately 80 buildings on its 5,300-acre site. LILCO has installed two miles of natural gas main leading to the Laboratory's central steam plant, which provides steam for cooling and heating Brookhaven's buildings.

In Brookhaven's contract with LILCO, the utility has the option of temporarily discontinuing gas service to BNL in the winter when supplies are low. In exchange, the Laboratory will pay lower rates.

To reduce emissions, Brookhaven had switched to a very low-sulfur, low-nitrogen fuel oil in 1995. With the conversion to gas, the Laboratory's emissions will be dramatically reduced even further. Brookhaven engineers have calculated that sulfur dioxide emissions will be reduced by 95,000 pounds per year, while nitrogen oxide emissions will be cut by 120,000 pounds per year.

The conversion to gas heat cost the Laboratory $1.2 million in engineering and construction costs, which involved changing safety systems, burners, piping and burner management systems. The conversion project was designed by Brookhaven engineers, with burner design and installation by Peabody Engineering Corporation of Stamford, Connecticut.

Since the new heating flexibility is expected to save the Laboratory approximately $500,000 per year - about $400,000 in fuel oil costs and $100,000 in operational expenses - the construction costs should be recovered in about two years.

Mark Toscano, Brookhaven's energy manager, said, "This dual capacity to heat with oil or gas provides us with several options that should lead to significant savings. We have a 1.8-million-gallon storage capability for fuel oil, so we can buy large quantities of oil in the summer, at a cheaper rate. Also, after the Laboratory fulfills its contract with LILCO, we can purchase natural gas from any supplier. Further savings could then be accrued, since we would look for the most attractive price of both oil and gas."

Brookhaven National Laboratory carries out basic and applied research in physical, biomedical and environmental sciences and in selected energy technologies. Associated Universities, Inc., a nonprofit researchmanagement organization, operates the Laboratory under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.