Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC), located in Troy, New York, is part of the SUNY system. Its 90-acre campus serves 13,500 students, offering over 70 degree and certificate programs in Business, Engineering, Health Sciences, and Liberal Arts. The campus houses large community facilities – the McDonough Sports Complex, the Conway Ice Rink and a 34,500 sq. ft. of exhibition space.
As part of its drive to reduce energy costs and carbon footprint, HVCC built an efficient and novel 6.5MW combined heat & power plant that uses methane gas from a nearby landfill. Methane is produced during the decomposition of trash, and is an especially damaging greenhouse gas. In most municipal landfills, methane is either flared or vented into the atmosphere. The environmental benefit of the HVCC plant is twofold – it is very efficient and it also provides a far cleaner way to consume the methane before it impacts the atmosphere.
The methane is transported from the landfill via a 3,100-foot pipeline buried along the outskirts of the campus. Once at the plant, it is mixed with natural gas to facilitate a clean, complete and odorless combustion process. The plant consists of five Caterpillar generators. Three CHP units are rated at 825kW, 1,350kW and 770kW. Their hot water output is used for space heating and domestic hot water. Two additional generators rated at 1,350kW (gas) and 2,250kW (diesel) provide backup power capability.
HVCC pays for the methane, providing a source of income for the city of Troy.
According to the EPA the project reduces greenhouse gas emissions equal to removing 36,000 cars from the roadways annually.
HVCC plans to use the facility as part of its Plant Utilities Technology program, where students will gain valuable first-hand experience and training as future plant operators.