NAU Installs Novel Solar Thermal


Rachelle SolarThermix

The Green Fund awarded employee Rachelle Berry $10,352 for her solar hot air heating proposal

 

NAU is excited to announce the installation of its first on-campus solar thermal air panel system. This installation supports the University’s long-standing commitment to decreasing fossil fuel use and creating a culture of sustainability. The six-panel system was installed on the Campus Surplus warehouse on the main campus. The wall-mounted system is 24 feet wide by 8 feet high and can generate more than 40,000 BTUs per hour of fossil-free heat energy. As a side benefit, this single installation reduces CO2e by over 3 tons per year.

Rachelle Berry, Office of Sustainability Americorps Member, worked with NAU’s Green Fund to propose and fund the solar thermal air panel system. “I was very impressed with the initial product demonstrations and believed this solar thermal solution deserved a serious evaluation on campus. It’s really a very simple technology and the economics are great.”

NAU already has a 163 kW solar photovoltaic installation; several wind turbines, and multiple installations of solar hot water heaters across campus. “With Flagstaff’s rank as one of the sunniest cities in the US combined with its substantial heat demand, the high efficiencies and economics of solar thermal air heating are particularly well suited to offset fossil fuel on campus,” said Ellen Vaughan, NAU’s Manager of Sustainability. “There’s a lot of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy options like solar and wind that can help reduce our electrical use, but there’s really not many options for reducing our heating or natural gas use.”

Eric Marcus, Director of the Sustainable Economic Development Initiative (SEDI) of Flagstaff, introduced SolarThermiX, LLC, the manufacturer of the new solar air heaters, to key NAU sustainability personnel. “As an Arizona company, it is rewarding to be working within our own state to promote cost-effective renewable energy technologies and we appreciate the NAU opportunity facilitated through SEDI,” said Michael Corridan, Co-Founder of Phoenix-based SolarThermiX.  “We initially thought that Colorado and New Mexico opportunities would come easier, but the encouragement we have received from SEDI and NAU has opened our eyes to the potential in our own back yard. I hope this pilot installation accelerates consideration by the Governor’s Office of Renewable Energy and the US Department of Energy to further assist adoption of this renewable energy technology, particularly for academic institutions and Native American housing in Northern Arizona.” added Corridan.

“It’s great to participate in developing and completing a project like this on campus” added Rachelle, “I would encourage all members of the NAU community to personally experience the performance of this system at Property Surplus. I also need to thank the Green Fund for funding this project and recommend anyone with a sustainable project idea to attend one of their workshops.”

Property Surplus is open to the public Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

To learn more about the Green Fund visit: http://nau.edu/Green-NAU/NAU-Green-Fund/