EAST GREENWICH – The New England Institute of Technology has invested in geothermal energy with the installation of a new system at its Center for Automotive Technology.
The new geothermal system, at its Warwick facility at 101 Access Rd., utilizes energy recovery and geothermal technology to supply pre-heated and pre-cooled fresh air to the automotive facility.
The new system removes old air from the building and replaces it with fresh air from outside. As the old air leaves the building, it transfers heat to a heat exchanger, which then heats the new air entering the building. If additional heating is required, the facility’s geothermal heat pump is activated to bring the fresh air up to the interior temperature. The process is reversed in the summer to cool the building.
The geothermal system uses 15 underground wells along route Interstate 95. By using a combination of geothermal energy and energy recovery, the school estimates that the facility will use 60 percent less electricity and gas for heating and cooling.
New England Tech currently generates electricity from 135 SolarWorld panels on the roof of the Electrical Technology building as well as from the 156-foot Northwind 100 wind turbine on the Access Road campus.
“The installation of the geothermal system further demonstrates the possibilities of sustainable energy for both academic enrichment as well as economic and environmental purposes,” said the college’s release.
Renewable and sustainable energy sources – including wind power, hydropower, fuel cells, tidal power, solar hot water and geothermal – are incorporated into the curriculums of the associates degree programs in electrical, plumbing, refrigeration/air conditioning, heating and gas technologies.
Students participating in these programs complete hands-on training and examine the components, installation, environmental impact, maintenance, practicality and site sustainability of renewable and sustainable energy sources.
New England Tech’s new geothermal system was designed by Quincy, Mass.-based Alares Energy and was constructed by LaFramboise Well Drilling of Thompson, Conn.
Partial funding for the geothermal project was provided by the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources and funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.