Project Snapshot: Tufts University Central Energy Plant – Custom Air Tunnel

Project Name:  Tufts Power Energy Plant
Owner:  Tufts University
Mechanical Engineer:  vanZelm Engineers
Mechanical Contractor:  J.C. Higgins Corp.
Equipment:  Custom Air Tunnel, Cooney Freeze Block Coil
Manufacturer:  Cambridgeport (CAS) Cooney Coil
DAC Sales Engineer:  David Goodman

Tufts University – Central Energy Plant 
Tufts University has built a new Co-Gen Central Energy Plant.  The new plant is located on Boston Avenue just south of Dowling Hall and will replace the aging, 60 year old existing plant.  The Central Energy Plant will provide electricity, steam, hot water for heating, and chilled water for cooling to the upper campus and the new Science and Engineering Complex.  This project is part of the University’s commitment to sustainability and modernization of their infrastructure. In the event of break down they would have to seek commercial electrical repair, but that shouldn’t be a difficult task.

DAC Sales Assisting with Custom Solution:
The plant was designed with two sets of air funnels both with heating coils with by-pass dampers.  One set is for the plant MUA and the other Combustion air for the Caterpillar Co-Gen.  David Goodman was providing the standard two row HW coils to J.C. Higgins but was also asked to provide the double wall panels and access doors.  These panels could only be designed and built after measuring the tunnel and deciding as a team how to assemble them around the tunnel beams, HW coils, fans, filters, sound attenuators and dampers.  The panel system was provided by CAS in Canton.  Having the panels made near the job site made it very fast to turn around sections as the components were set in place.

Addition of Cooney Freeze Block Coils:
As a part of an owner request, Cooney Freeze Block Coils were added to the project.   Cooney Coils provide the system with the highest level of protection against coil freeze up.  Advantages over standard coils include:

Cooney Freezeblock Coil

  • Expansion relief headers equipped with pressure and temperature sensing valves discharge a small amount of water as a coil begins to freeze
  • Valves are designed to reseat after discharging to prevent flooding after coil thaws
  • All coils and valves are pre-assembled and tested at the factory prior to shipping
  • Designed to dramatically reduce future maintenance, downtime, and premature coil failure
  • In many cases, eliminates the need for glycol which increases efficiency
  • All Cooney Freeze Block Coils come with a 3 year warranty


Some of the new facility’s features include:

  • A cogeneration plant, which will provide 4 MWs of power, reduce energy costs for the Medford campus by approximately 20%. The university is taking a fresh approach to greenhouse emission analysis to be posted in the near future.
  • Three new high-efficiency steam boilers, which will replace the less efficient boilers in the existing plant
  • Efficient chillers and cooling towers, which will provide air conditioning to the new Science and Engineering Complex, Tisch, and can be expanded to serve additional buildings in the future
  • Increased reliability of the electrical power supply to the Medford campus
  • A glass façade, which will allow the Tufts and Medford communities to see what is happening inside this modern facility
  • Landscaping with native plants


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Custom Air Handling Unit Design | Desaturation Cooling Coil
Custom Air Handling Unit, Freeze Block Coils

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