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SolarWall; Strategic installation equals free energy

Released on Jun 28 2016

Source: U.S. Army ( ) By: Mr. Justin Eimers (CECOM) May 19, 2016

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TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -- Tobyhanna will soon reap the benefit of free energy after the strategic installation of solar walls on seven buildings across the installation.

SolarWall Tobyhanna Army Depot Photo Credit Mr. Steve Grzezdzinski (CECOM)
Solar walls being installed on seven buildings across Tobyhanna Army Depot will decrease heating costs, provide higher air quality, and de-stratify air temperatures in high-ceiling warehouses and mission areas. (Photo Credit: Mr. Steve Grzezdzinski (CECOM))

The technology -- two-stage transpired solar walls -- uses ventilation fans to draw air through micro perforations in "solar cladding" into an air cavity. The air is then trapped behind a polycarbonate panel and heated a second time as it is drawn through another panel and is directed into the building. Ceiling mounted high-volume, low-speed fans then de-stratify the building air to ensure uniform heat distribution.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Project Engineer and Contracting Officer's Representative Dean Gillett described the process in simple terms.

"Basically how it works is dark, perforated metal panels called 'solar cladding' are mounted to the building's south-facing exterior walls to create an air cavity. The cladding is heated by solar radiation from the sun and ventilation fans create a negative pressure in the air cavity, drawing the solar-heated air through the exterior panel perforations," he said. "It's heating generated at the sole expense of running a fan."

James Harbert, Resident Engineer and Administrative Contracting Officer for the USACE, Philadelphia District, said the project will provide significant savings for the depot.

"The use of these transpired solar collection panels will decrease heating costs, provide higher air quality, and de-stratify air temperatures in high-ceiling warehouses and mission areas," he said.

Support structures for the panels are being installed on buildings 7 and 8, and are scheduled for installation on buildings 3, 4, 5, 6 and 55. Environmental personnel conducted a renewable energy and energy conservation study in fiscal 2009 with support from the USACE to determine whether the solar wall project would be feasible and cost effective for the depot. Technical evaluations and on-site monitoring were carried out to pinpoint the best locations for each wall. Then the project was submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) for consideration to receive funding through the Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP).

Brian Decker, a mechanical engineer in the Installation Services Directorate, said the project was selected based on its promise to provide substantial savings for Tobyhanna.

"The project's savings-to-investment ratio was deemed high enough to receive ECIP funding from OSD," he said, adding that the savings will equal 115 percent of the project's cost.

Personnel in the depot's Environmental Safety and Occupational Health Branch have estimated the project will conserve a staggering amount of energy while continuing Tobyhanna's mission uninterrupted.

"Tobyhanna is looking at annual natural gas and electricity savings in excess of 30,000 MMBTU (million BTUs) with a 20 percent reduction in criteria air pollutants," said David Ruskey, environmental engineer in the branch. He added that the depot adheres to a permit defined limitation restricting emissions and the solar wall project will help meet those restrictions. "The emission-related savings are based on sustained compliance with our air permit which allows us to operate without interrupting our mission," he said.


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Last changed:Jun 27 2016