In 1999, when officials at Edmonton International Airport in northern Alberta, Canada, mapped out a multiyear expansion project, it was clear additional heating capacity would be a critical requirement. For the project's mechanical engineers, Edmonton-based Keen/Reid/Crowther, a top priority was minimizing the costs of running a significantly larger heating plant and realizing the shortest possible payback.

Keen/Reid/Crowther turned to Sofame Technologies. The Montreal-based manufacturer presented a solution that met the criteria and provided additional savings by preserving the heating water headers from the boiler room to the airport terminal. Sofame custom-engineered a system using its Hybrid Percomtherm direct-contact water heater, which delivers up to 99-percent efficiency by dropping the temperature of flue gases to as low as 50°F.

“Having the Sofame boiler as the ‘lead’ provides noteworthy benefits,” Roger Steele, mechanical specialist in the airport's engineering department, who at the time of the airport's purchase and installation of the heating system was the superintendent of central utilities and mechanical, said. “My best estimate of energy savings is 10,000 GJ per year. The Sofame unit enables us to supply hot water throughout the airport at average temperatures from 140°F to 149°F.”

Since the installation of the Hybrid Percomtherm system, the airport has benefited from annual savings amounting to 10 million cu ft of natural-gas consumption. The fuel savings have reduced emissions by 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year, equivalent to the removal of 200 cars from the road. The overall heating efficiency (boilers and Hybrid Percomtherm) is approximately 90 percent.

The total investment in heating upgrades, amortized over a period of seven years, was approximately $500,000. The savings realized to date amount to more than $1 million.

Montreal-Trudeau International Airport later became the second airport to deploy Sofame's technology. Winnipeg International Airport will become the third when it starts its new Percomtherm system at the beginning of the 2008-09 winter season.


Information and photographs courtesy of Sofame Technologies Inc.