New dual-fuel boilers help save this Alabama hospital 35% to 50% in fuel costs annually.


The recently completed Shelby Baptist Medical Center (SBMC) $94 million South Tower Project in Alabaster, AL, consists of a new 167,712-sq-ft, four-story bed tower that houses 101 patient beds and provides additional space for other hospital services including a surgery center, clinical laboratory, central sterile supply department, an admitting/registration area, public space, and mechanical space. The new tower is powered by a new 15,000-sq-ft central energy plant with three 300-bhp Miura EXN-300SGO dual-fuel boilers providing steam for heating the tower as well as powering a surgery center and the hospital’s central sterilization unit.

Selecting and purchasing equipment to supply heat and steam for essential services was a big decision that required the input of many people, including engineers, contractors, facilities managers, and medical center administrators. Ultimately, however, the decision fell on facilities director Frank Hutchinson, who selected the three Miura EXN-300SGO dual-fuel steam boilers.

His initial interest in Miura was sparked by a magazine report about a recent Miura boiler installation at a major university hospital. The article referenced ways in which Miura’s efficient, modular design and on-demand steam technology can dramatically reduce fuel costs compared with some traditional options. Intrigued by these possibilities, Hutchinson investigated further and, while attending a hospital trade show, met Craig Simons of Marspec Technical Products (Spanish Fort, AL) who was displaying information about Miura’s money-saving and eco-friendly boilers.

SECOND OPINIONS NEEDED

Installation of the Miura boilers was performed by Marspec Technical products, under the supervision of Craig Simons who provided additional information and placed Hutchinson in contact with the facilities director at the university hospital featured in the article. The manager told Hutchinson of the tremendous fuel savings the new boilers brought to his facility.

“While I was checking references, I spoke with my counterpart at the other hospital,” said Hutchinson. “He told me that he was unfamiliar with Miura at first, but is now very glad he installed their boilers. He also said that after the first month of operation, the local gas company came by and replaced its meter because his gas consumption had dropped so much they assumed their meter was broken, which it wasn’t.”

Encouraged by this, Hutchinson spoke with several other current users of Miura boilers, including a manager at a local industrial laundry. During this conversation, Hutchinson learned that the laundry manager, who is currently using Miura boilers, was a former boiler operator at a regional medical center in Tuscaloosa that did not use Miura. The laundry manager provided Hutchinson with a first-hand comparison of the two boiler systems in terms relevant to a hospital facilities director. These comments confirmed his decision to choose Miura even though an engineering firm consulting on the project had already committed to installing three older-style 400 bph firetube units.

“I looked at the engineering plan and sat down with Marspec to do the numbers. We found that only three 300-bhp units were needed instead of the proposed three 400 bhp boiler configuration,” said Hutchinson. “I made them [the engineering firm] run the numbers again, and they agreed that I was right and acknowledged the projected $60,000 per year savings on natural gas costs revealed by the calculations.” Taking matters into his own hands, Hutchinson rejected the engineering firm’s plan and substituted three Miura EXN-300SGO dual-fuel boilers to replace the four proposed firetube units.

“I really stuck my neck out on this one, but it was the right thing to do and I’m very glad I did,” added Hutchinson.

The Right Decision

Hutchinson and SBMC couldn’t be more pleased with the performance of their new Miura boilers and the savings they are achieving. They expect to realize even greater savings when boilers in the older section of the medical center are turned off for good.

According to Hutchinson, “The new bed tower encompasses more square footage than the old hospital wing and we have moved the surgery center, cath lab, and central sterilization into the new tower as well. Even with this substantially larger load, we are seeing a 35% to 50% reduction in fuel costs compared with running the old facility. And with annual fuel costs exceeding $400,000, these new boilers can pay for themselves in just a few year’s time.”

While the new tower’s design incorporates a number of energy saving features in its design and construction, Hutchison still attributes about 30% of the energy savings to the Miura boilers.

Being placed in charge of deciding what type of boiler SBMC would rely on for many years to come was a big responsibility, which I didn’t take lightly,” said Hutchinson. “In that position, the easiest thing to do would have been to go along with the engineers’ recommendations. But, I did my own research and discovered a better solution to SBMC’s needs.”

Because of this, SBMC is benefiting from reduced fuel costs and reduced use of water-treatment chemicals while the surrounding community also has cleaner air to breathe. “In my book, this is a win, win, win situation for everyone concerned,” concluded Hutchinson. ES