Full steam ahead for UIC Boiler No. 7
Videography by Megan Strand
What’s bright red, weighs 87.5 tons and just arrived from Oklahoma?
UIC Boiler No. 7.
The boiler arrived Thursday, but it took nearly five years of planning to get it here. When it fires up in December, it will produce 180,000 pounds of steam per hour to heat the UI Hospital and other buildings on the west side of campus.
“We want to make sure it’s up and running before January, because we will need it desperately,” said Waleed D’Keidek, superintendent of utilities.
The boiler — 43 feet long and 17 feet tall — was custom built by Victory Energy Corp. to fit inside the campus steam plant at Hermitage and Taylor streets, which already houses boilers No. 1 through 6.
Boiler No. 7’s journey to UIC included four weeks on the train from Oklahoma, then a predawn procession from the 15th Street train yard along temporarily closed streets to the steam plant. Workers had already knocked a hole in the building’s wall to install a door — the only way to get the boiler inside. Over the next day-and-a-half, the boiler was hoisted by crane, placed on jacks and eased in alongside the other boilers with only inches to spare.
“Everybody looked at it and said, ‘How are you going to get that inside?’” D’Keidek said.
The $5.3 million project, paid for by campus operating funds, was necessary because the three boilers currently in use are more than 40 years old, said Fernando Howell, director of facility and space planning.
“We want to make sure we have not only enough capacity for the worst conditions, but standby capacity so that if one of the (other) boilers goes down, we will still be OK,” D’Keidek said. “And this boiler is dual fuel, so if we have a catastrophe and lose gas, we still can run on oil.”
Workers did prep work over the summer to get pipes and floors ready for the new boiler. Mechanical set-up is next, then electronics, before the boiler fires up for testing in November.
“It’s our job to make sure the buildings are taken care of,” D’Keidek said. “We try to do our best for the university.”