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Publication Date


Document Type


Study Type

EVS 300


Environmental Science and Policy


David Smith


The Smith College Steam Tunnel transports steam generated in the Physical Plant to student houses and academic buildings on campus for heating purposes. However, heat is lost in this process because the existing pipe insulation is not 100% efficient. Therefore, this project aims to (1) estimate the amount of heat that is lost when steam is transported from the Smith College Physical Plant to other buildings on campus, (2) determine the percentage decrease in heat loss when insulation is added, and (3) discern whether a heat exchanger unit is feasible. After a site study of the steam tunnel, it was estimate that approximately 20W of power is released per foot of insulated steam pipe. This heat loss can be diminished by adding insulation, but can also be used to heat buildings such as the Lyman Plant House & Conservatory. Mineral fiber was rendered as a more efficient insulator and if the steam pipes were retrofitted with 1.5 in of this material on top of the existing asbestos insulation, energy savings can amount to $294,000 per year. In terms of installing a heat exchanger to heat the plant house, there is insufficient space for this unit because the heat exchanger requires a cross sectional area of 170ft2, yet the basement of Lyman is only has the available space of 45ft2. However, both options should still be taken into consideration as a long‐term investment for Smith College to decrease steam production.


© 2009; Joyce Cheung