Biomass Heating Plant

Heating plant content

Longwood is the only public institution of higher education in Virginia to use biomass (sawdust) to produce steam for providing heat and hot water to campus buildings and one of only two state agencies that burns biomass for heating fuel.

Longwood University completed construction of an 11,420 sq. ft. replacement heating plant in 2011. The $14 million facility located on campus contains three biomass boilers (one new boiler and one relocated boiler from the original heating plant). 

The heating plant was designed to contain three boilers but due to escalating costs, the design was modified to include the installation of only two boilers and reserved space for additional boiler capacity. The wood-fired boilers currently provide approximately 80% of the campus’ heat and hot water. Oil provides the additional 20% of the campus’ steam demand.  The third boiler was added in 2019 to provide more capacity.

The facility also includes two sawdust storage silos, sawdust handling system, pollution control devices, auxiliary equipment, administrative space, and space for additional boiler capacity. 

Sawdust is stored in two silos with a combined capacity of 18,500 cu. ft. approximately one week’s worth of fuel. Sawdust is loaded into the top of the silos by way of a bucket elevator; augers at the bottom of the silos distribute the fuel using a first-in, first-out method to each boiler minimizing fuel degradation and ensuring consistent moisture content. Augers and pneumatic tubing at the base of the silos transport sawdust from the silos to the metering bins of each boiler. Pneumatic tubing then feeds the sawdust into the boilers.

Biomass Heating Plant, QA Graphics

Biomass Processing Facility

In addition to the biomass heating plant, the University's biomass processing facility provides adequate storage space for sawdust and its wood fuel stream.

This facility, located 11 miles from campus, consists of 17.68 acres. The facility includes a truck tipper, truck scales, and space to stockpile sawdust. 

Once the wood is processed, the wood fuel is stored at the processing facility until it is transported to the heating plant.

Biomass Facts

  • The third boiler was added in 2019
  • Test firing of new boiler occurred in July 2010
  • Campus uses 10,000-35,000 lbs. of steam/hour
  • Each boiler produces a maximum of 20,000 lbs. of steam/hour
  • Purchase sawdust from several local sawmills
  • Permitted to burn 34,000 tons of sawdust/year
  • Utilize 20-40 tons of sawdust/day (approx. 1-2 truckloads)
  • Each silo is 48 ft. in height and has a capacity of 18,500 cu. ft.
  • Produces approximately 700 lbs. of ash/week