Using Steam on Campus
On Central Campus, Central Power Plant (CPP) burns natural gas to generate electricity. A by product of this process is steam. The steam is distributed throughout campus by an underground tunnel system.
Steam is used to condition building space through air and water, heat domestic (drinking) water, cleaning lab equipment in sterilizers and even run chillers to cool buildings.
Steam traps collect the steam and sends the condensate back to the CPP. When steam traps are in good working order, the system is heating/cooling spaces as intended.
When steam traps fail, building occupants can have a difficult time controlling the temperature in their space and the functionality of equipment using the steam can decrease.
The PBOT helps to maintain the steam systems in over 100 buildings across the Ann Arbor campus. Our responsibility is to help ensure the working condition of the steam traps by testing them on a regular basis. When the team testing the steam trap finds one that has failed, they will tag it so that the Plant Operations crew can replace them. Regular testing minimizes steam waste. Wasted steam can result in higher utility bills.