NFTA Transporter

Monday, October 21, 2013

Things heat up at the BNIA

It's always great to hear about innovations that save money and the environment. That's why NFTA Facility Maintenance Department Manager Rick Russo is eager to tout the success of the Heat Recovery System at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. "This truly has been a groundbreaking project," Russo said in regards to the system that celebrates its one-year anniversary this month. "It was an awesome idea with a tremendous result."

The Heat Recovery System is a unique system that captures excess heat from the airport's baggage scanning machines and transfers it to areas throughout the airport terminal (or exhausts it out of the building during warmer weather). The system has helped to reduce energy consumption while lowering heating and air conditioning costs.

The units were installed last summer after the FMD staff at the airport realized that the six baggage scanning machines installed in the terminal a few years ago radiated a tremendous amount of energy. "Each machine gives off about 135,000 BTU of heat energy, so the six machines together produce an awful lot of heat," Russo said. "The standard ventilation in the baggage inspection area wasn't adequate at the time, so we'd be pumping at minimum, 78 degree air out of the building in the middle of the winter."

To combat this problem FMD worked with engineers to design a system to capture the excess heat and transfer it to other parts of the building via a system of ducts and exhaust fans. The system is made even more efficient through use of hot water transfer coils and supply fans. "The system altogether produces about 2,800 to 3,800 BTU per hour of free heat, which is significant," Russo said. The output varies based on the amount of bags being scanned.

Most of the heat produced is channeled into the baggage claim area, reducing the heating costs for that section of the airport, and making it noticeably more comfortable.

As far as Russo is aware, the Heat Recovery System is unique to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, but they could easily be implemented at terminals from coast to coast.

"Airports all over the country use these L-3 scanning machines, and I'm sure they are dealing with the same heat exhaust issues that we have had here," Russo said. "The possibilities for taking this system and implementing it in other locations are truly tremendous."