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Projects Updates for place: Energy Farm

  1. 18F Semesterly Report - CornCrete

    The most significant development to date is that two buildings have been identified in which the material the team is work with will be installed, one is a single-story building of approximately 400 sq/ft the other has a double height space and a footprint off approximately 1,600 sq/ft that will be enclosed using the material in development.

  2. steam use at greenhouses

    Associated Project(s): 

    The Deep Direct Use geothermal project has completed a preliminary assessment of steam use for greenhouses on UIUC campus. Steam usage in the greenhouses at Turner Hall and Plant Sciences building were compared with Lincoln Hall (pre and post renovations) for the period 2013-2018.


    Generally, the steam use in greenhouses is 3-5 times higher (mmBTU per square foot) than in an academic building. Together, the greenhouses have produced ~25MT CO2/MWh) over the 5-year period.

  3. IWG Meeting Minutes November 30, 2017

  4. iWG meeting agenda November 30, 2017

  5. Funding Letter - Geothermal TRT

    The applied for funding will be used in the construction of a Thermal Response Test unit for use in the Geothermal Pilot project that is currently being implemented on the UIUC Campus. The overall goal of the project is to assess the viability of geothermal heat exchange on this campus as well as the best implementation of this technology. The Thermal response test unit will measure the ability of the local geology to support geothermal heat exchange in the future. The unit will be designed to be used in all future geothermal projects. This project is student-led, and development and construction of the Thermal Response Test Unit will be conducted entirely by University of Illinois students. This proposal directly funds: 1) Construction Supplies 2) Transportation Costs.

  6. Biomass Boiler Open House

    Associated Project(s): 

    REMINDER: The Energy Farm at Illinois and the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) invite you to attend:

    Illinois Energy Farm Open House 
    & Biomass Boiler Ribbon Cutting

    1-3 p.m.

    Wednesday, June 21, 2017

    Illinois Energy Farm 
    (4110 S. Race St., Urbana)


    In celebration of the completed installation of the Farm's state-of-the-art Heizomat biomass boiler, we invite you to tour the newly-built boiler facilities and meet Heizomat representatives.

    Refreshments will be served. Please let us know you are coming so we can plan accordingly!

    Click here to RSVP today!!

  7. EGEN SWATeam Meeting (4.13.17)

    The EGEN SWATeam held another bi-weekly meeting. Topics covered include:

    • Ximing Cai's [in attendance] vision for iSEE and SWATeams
    • Developing a recommendation to expand UIUC solar farm.
    • Developing a recommendation for another clean energy PPA
    • Cost savings for geothermal systems and opportunities for implementation at solar farm and new building sites
  8. EGEN SWATeam Meeting (3.30.17)

    The EGEN SWATeam held another bi-weekly meeting. Topics covered include:

    • Performing preliminary assessment for clean energy PPA
    • Fact sheet using solar farm as basis to estimate land needs and costs of additional solar farm to meet iCAP goal
    • Update on biomass boiler at energy farm
    • Identifying opportunities to purseu implementation of ground source heat pump (GSHP) technology on campus.
  9. EGEN SWATeam Meeting (3.10.17)

    The EGEN SWATeam held another bi-weekly meeting. Topics covered include:

    • Associate Director for Campus Sustainability Ximing Cai and his vision for iSEE
    • Biomass boiler at Energy Farm
    • Opportunities for Geothermal on campus
  10. Biomass Boiler at Energy Farm

    Construction is underway in Fall 2016 to install a 200 kW biomass boiler at the Energy Farm. This system will initially satisfy all heating needs for the greenhouse onsite, and will replace the current propane heating system. In the future, more buildings may be added to the boiler system.

  11. Geothermal Profile Project

    Beginning Fall 2016, a team at the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS, a division of the prairie Research Institute) led by Illinois Professor Yu-Feng Forrest Lin is conducting a series of detailed observations of the geothermal profile on campus - including high-resolution temperature profiling and thermal analysis. The team will drill to 330 ft and install a geothermal loop and fiberoptic cables. Results will help determine the feasibility of implementing geothermal systems on campus by identifying costs and possible challenges.

    Professor Lin has coordinated with faculty from the University of Wisconsin to incorporate lessons learned from their implementation of a geothermal exchange system at the nearby EPIC health care systems campus in Verona, WI.

    Professor Lin's team began drilling on 9/19/16. Daily drilling progress is logged and can be found by clicking this link.

    Attached Files: 
  12. Our Budding Biomass Boiler

    Developing and implementing new alternative energy sources is essential to ending the era of fossil fuels and extreme carbon emissions. The more alternative energy sources available, the more potential there is for eradicating fossil fuels as the main energy source. Numerous different innovations have developed within the last few decades because of the massive increase in technology efficiency, and the U of I has taken the initiative to implement many of them. These strides toward alternatives increased after the university committed to cease using coal at Abbott by 2017. The replacement of this power will require as many alternatives available as possible in order to meet the growing need.

    Biomass energy is a great example of how the University of Illinois is converting to more renewable energy sources. Biomass can be used to create energy because it contains stored energy from plants that have absorbed energy from the sun through the process of photosynthesis. When biomass is burned, this stored energy is released as heat.

    In the Spring of 2014 the SSC funded, Field to Fuel: Biomass Heating on Campus. This project involved purchasing and installing a biomass boiler at the Energy Farm, in order to heat a research greenhouse using Miscanthus that is grown on the Energy Farm. The new biomass boiler arrived in early December, and installation is nearing completion!

    This project is exciting because it is the first biomass energy initiative on campus, and it will work to meet the carbon emission caps that are outlined in the Illinois Climate Action Plan. Additionally, with this project, they hope to demonstrate the feasibility of biomass on campus, engage and familiarize faculty and staff personnel with the design, installation, and operation of such systems with a view to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy production on campus, support the education and training of students, and create awareness in the larger community about alternative energy sources. The ultimate hope for the project is that a successful pilot will pave the way toward expanded use of biomass heating on our campus and greatly reduce our campus greenhouse gas emissions.

  13. Update from Ben McCall

    Associated Project(s): 

    Dear Tim,

    Some bad news to report.  The Revolving Loan Fund committee elected to defer consideration of the funding for the biomass boiler, because they were concerned that the operational and maintenance issues were not yet worked out.  This is not as bad of news as I first thought, because the RLF process is going to be revamped in the spring to be more of a "rolling deadline" process, so we should be able to go back to them sometime in the spring and get a quick response.

    Given the delay in RLF funding, it seems to make sense to delay our proposal to ICECF until July.  Another important consideration here is that the North Campus Parking Deck Solar project is evidently going to apply to ICECF in January, and there is at least some concern about submitting two proposals from campus in the same round.  Yet another consideration is that upon reviewing the ICECF form, we noticed that they are looking for a well-developed educational plan...and we have not really spent any time working on that.

    So I'm afraid we are in a bit of limbo here, until we get the O&M issues resolved and the MOU with F&S finalized. Hopefully we can tackle that in January, so that we're ready to go back to RLF as soon as their process re-opens.

    At least we've finally made great headway on the engineering work, and will have some real budgetary numbers to work with soon...!




  14. Field to Fuel-Biomass

    This project involves purchasing and installing a biomass boiler at the Energy Farm, in order to heat a research greenhouse using Miscanthus that is grown on the Energy Farm. The hope for the project is that a successful pilot will pave the way toward expanded use of biomass heating on our campus in order to reduce our campus greenhouse gas emissions.

  15. Q&A with Tim Mies and Mike Marquissee

    Associated Project(s): 

    From: Marquissee, Mike
    Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 11:22 AM
    To: Mies, Timothy A; Anderson, Gary L; Dale Johnston (
    Subject: RE: Copy of UofI propane 040414-MLM EDITS.xls


    See answers below.


    From: Mies, Timothy A
    Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 9:01 AM
    To: Marquissee, Mike; Anderson, Gary L; Dale Johnston (
    Subject: RE: Copy of UofI propane 040414-MLM EDITS.xls

    Hi Mike,

    Several questions have come up that I would like you input on in regards to the green revolving loan fund in cases that might occur that do not follow the typical project pattern.

    Scenario 1) The energy farm reverts to another department at the completion of the grant of the Energy Biosciences Institute before the loan is repaid.  How would the loan be handled in cases where the new department weren’t within the VCR cost area? 

    • Since the loan is being repaid from the campus pool in favor of the VCR, it is likely that it would still pay out in favor of which other campus department it goes to.  Unless it turns into a self-supporting entity, which is unlikely.  In that unlikely event, the self-supporting entity would repay the loan.

    Scenario 2) A crop loss occurs one year that would limit/prevent the savings that are estimated from our initial estimates? 

    • The Campus utility pool would still pay out.  Just that the savings would not be recognized.  It would also pay for the additional propane.  The loss would not come out of the project.

    Scenario 3) Miscanthus ceases to be produced on the energy farm, resulting in no more mxg produced locally?  Would F&S then consider purchasing MXG from a local farmer who could supply the material? Assuming the boiler installed could handle multiple feedstocks, wood chips may be an alternative. 

    • We support this project because there is a research project attached to it.  If that project is discontinued, we would then have to discuss who repays the loan.  Most likely it would be out of the research fund, then, which would also pay for the restoration of the site and so on.  I don’t think we would be interested in providing alternative fuel sources or manage an abandoned research project.

    Thanks for your input.



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