BSU GHP District Heating and Cooling System (PHASE I) Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title BSU GHP District Heating and Cooling System (PHASE I)
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act – Geothermal Technologies Program: Ground Source Heat Pumps
Project Type / Topic 2 Topic Area 1: Technology Demonstration Projects

Project Description The Project will result in the construction of the largest ground source geothermal-based closed loop GHP heating and cooling system in America. Phase I of the Project began with the design, competitive bidding, and contract award for the drilling and “looping” of 1,800 boreholes in sports fields and parking lots on the north side of campus. The components of the entire Project include: (1) 4,100 four hundred feet deep boreholes spread over about 25 acres of sport fields and parking lots (Phase I will involve 1,800 boreholes spread over about 8 acres); (2) Each Phase will require a district energy station (about 9,000 sq. feet) that will each contain (A) two 2,500 ton heat pump chillers (which can produce 150 degree (F) water for heating purposes and 42 degree (F) water for cooling purposes); and (B) a variety of water pumps, electrical and other control systems; (3) a closed loop piping system that continuously circulates about 20,000 gallons of water (no anti-freeze) per minute through the boreholes, energy stations, a (two pipe) hot water loop and a (two pipe) chilled water loop (no water is drawn from the aquifer at any point in the operation); and (4) hot/chilled water-to-air heat exchangers in each of the buildings.

Potential Impact of Project: (1) The University is requesting federal assistance via this Solicitation to complete Phase I of the overall Project. After that, the project will slow down significantly as our funding will largely be depleted. (2) 36,000 tons of coal per year will not be burned resulting in the elimination of 85,000 tons of CO2, 240 tons of nitrous oxide, 200 tons of particulate matter, 80 tons of carbon monoxide, and 1,400 tons of sulfur dioxide. Phase I will accomplish 50% of these reductions. (3) All of the major components of the Project are made and commercially available in America. (4) The University will realize $500,000 as each of its four stoker boilers is decommissioned. The decommissioning of two coal boilers in Phase I will annually provide the university with $1 Million in fuel and operational savings to enhance academic programs and moderate future tuition increases. (5) The owners of large buildings, including the 65,000 buildings with district heating systems in America, will learn how to reduce the “first costs” and other risks that a DOE report concludes are the major barriers to widespread adoption of GHP technology in America.

State Indiana
Objectives Complete Phase I of the project which will accomplish 50% of the overall objective by shutting down two of four coal fired boilers and use a GHP system to heat and cool campus buildings.
Awardees (Company / Institution) Ball State University (BSU)

Awardee Website

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000116

DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $5,000,000.00
Awardee Cost Share $15,000,000.00
Total Project Cost $20,000,000.00

Principal Investigator(s) James W. Lowe, PE, Director, Engineering Operations, Facilities Planning and Management

Targets / Milestones - Demonstrate that: (1) a renewable and reliable (2) geothermal ground source heating and cooling system can (3) immediately begin to employ more than 2,300 Americans who will for the first time apply (4) commercially available American-made technology (5) to create a 10,000 ton GHP system that (6) dramatically increases the energy efficiency and (7) eliminates the CO2 and other greenhouse gases that result from the burning of 36,000 tons of coal.

- Provide hot and chilled water to over 5 million square feet of conditioned space. Finally, the Project will save the University approximately $2.3 Million/year in operating costs ($1 million annually as a result of Phase I). Phase II (not part of this Solicitation) will follow as funding becomes available.

Location of Project Muncie, Indiana
40.1933767°, -85.3863599°

Impacts GHP system will replace coal-fired steam boiler systems which annually require 36,000 tons of coal and emissions associated with its combustion. This project has a strong environmental impact for region, and offers tremendous potential for job creation and local economic growth due to the project's sheer size.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs