TUPPER LAKE, N.Y. - The Wild Center, Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks, has installed an innovative hybrid heating system supported by $350,000 in funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) that will use a combination of renewable energy solutions to provide heat and hot water for the facility year round.

The Center’s new wood-pellet boiler was manufactured by ACT Bioenergy of Schenectady and represents the first highly efficient, commercial-sized, gasification wood-pellet boiler of its kind and size manufactured in New York State. It will be supplemented by a solar thermal hot-water system developed by E2G Solar, West Sand Lake, using a solar hot water tube collection system that is the first of its kind used in a commercial application in the Adirondack region. Together, they largely replace the propane boiler system formerly installed at the Wild Center.

Francis J. Murray Jr., NYSERDA president and CEO, said, “We commend The Wild Center for its commitment to incorporating renewable energy into its operations. Their use of pioneering made-in-New York technology will help promote high-efficiency, renewable-fuel boilers that reduce harmful emissions, burn local fuel, and further New York’s efforts to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, while helping to build New York’s clean energy economy.”

“This pioneering renewable heating and hot water system dovetails perfectly with The Wild Center’s mission and goals,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, executive director of The Wild Center. “The opportunity to have such an installation at The Wild Center, where we can demonstrate and explain the technology to visitors, was something we could not pass up. We could not have achieved such a significant project without the support and commitment of NYSERDA.”

Clarkson University, Potsdam, is conducting a scientific evaluation of the energy efficiency and emissions performance of the boiler as well as the integrated solar thermal heating system and will report its findings to NYSERDA. It is anticipated that this evaluation will provide objective scientific information to be used by decision makers developing renewable energy strategies. It will also serve as a model for other commercial facilities looking to evaluate ways to heat with renewable fuels in an efficient manner.

The teaming of the solar thermal and wood boiler systems is unique in New York. The system includes a flat-plate and solar-tube thermal system, which heats 320 gallons of water as it flows through narrow tube surfaces exposed to direct sunlight, as well as a high-efficiency, clean-burning wood-pellet commercial-size boiler that will heat another 600 gallons of water. Combined, these systems will optimize water heating throughout the year for kitchen hot water and space heating needs of the 54,000-square-foot building.

The system was designed to stimulate local economic development and reduce dependence on foreign energy sources by replacing imported fossil fuels with locally available renewable fuels. In the Adirondacks, the most abundant and inexpensive renewable fuel is wood. However, traditional wood burning stoves, outdoor wood boilers, and some common commercial wood boilers suffer from low efficiency and high levels of pollution from incomplete combustion, noted the organizations. This project offers a very clean-burning, highly efficient alternative use of wood fuel.

Publication date:06/21/2010