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Biomass Boiler Installation, Chimney Maintenance will Close Section of Stewart Road for Two Years

MU Power Plant will continue to operate at full capacity

September 28th, 2010

Story Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430,

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— University of Missouri officials announced today that installation of a 100 percent biomass boiler and maintenance on the chimneys at the MU Power Plant will require the closing of Stewart Road between Providence Road and Fourth Street for nearly two years beginning Monday, Oct. 4.  Stewart Road between Fourth and Fifth streets also will be closed for much of the same time period.

The closure is necessary to provide adequate distance between construction and pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular traffic. A temporary path through a nearby parking lot, which also will be closed for the duration, will re-route pedestrians and bicyclists. Adequate lighting for security will be installed.

“Because so many students, faculty and staff walk or ride their bikes to campus from west Stewart Road, we wanted to make sure that we could re-route them along an alternate and safe path,” said Gary Ward, MU associate vice chancellor-facilities.

In one project, a protective coating will be applied to the exterior of the north and south chimneys. The chimneys were built in 1980 and 1981 and have sustained damage from repeated freezing and thawing. As moisture gets into the cracks and freezes, it expands. The expansion causes pieces of concrete to loosen, a process known as spalling.

In a separate project, the MU Power Plant will replace a coal-fired boiler with a 100 percent biomass boiler, which should be ready for use in late 2012. The boiler is designed to use mostly woody biomass; however, blends of other biomass fuels such as agriculture residues, pelletized grasses or waste-paper pellets might be used. The plant staff plans to work with the boiler supplier, campus researchers and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to test the feasibility of other biomass fuels.

MU has been producing heat and electricity using a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system since 1892.  MU’s CHP system uses nearly 38 percent less fuel than typical systems using onsite thermal generation with purchased electricity. MU’s CHP system also reduces CO2 emissions by an estimated 107,000 tons per year. This reduction is equivalent to the annual emissions from more than 17,900 passenger vehicles.

MU is recognized nationally as a leader in energy efficiency and conservation, reducing energy usage by 13 percent per square foot and greenhouse gas emissions by 39 percent per square foot since 1990. The 20-year emphasis on energy conservation  has resulted in a current annual savings of $6.8 million. Other awards include the 2008 Energy Efficiency award from the National Wildlife Federation, 2004 International District Energy Association’s System of the Year award, and 2001 Energy Star Partner of the Year award.

MU’s power plant provides reliable and cost-effective electricity, cooling and heating to more than 15 million square feet of facilities. It will continue to operate at full capacity while upgrades and repair projects are completed.