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Full text of "History and development of the Washington Central Heating Plant."

1 

of the 



WAT'"'- ' D " ' 



Herman ?. Dial 



D r^s€ As ' : j nt 
For Initiation 
*yland Beta Chi 

Ti u Beta Pi Ass :ia1 Ion 



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HISTORY AND DE YBLO RvIiLM 1 OF 1E2 WASHINGTON CENTRAL HEATING PLANT 

SUMMARY 

During the administration of President Hoover, the 
Government purchased much additional land in Washington, of 
which the most important tract was the so-called triangle, 
south of Pennsylvania Avenue and north of the Mall. An in- 
tensive building program was inaugrated, and some engineers 
and builders, realizing the increasingproblem of heating Gov- 
buildings, brought the matter to the attention of the Treas- 
ury Department. 

TheTreasury Department accepted the idea of a Central 
Heating Plant as the solution to the problem, and accepted 
the design submitted by United Engineers and Constructors, Inc. 
of Philadelphia. Neal A»Meliek, 0. S. Construction Engineer, 
supervised the entire building of the plant. 

Bids were submitted, and oontracts let to five compan- 
ies for the construction, on Oct. 27, 1952. At this time exca- 
vation for the foundation had been finished, and about one-fif- 
th of the conduit tunnels had been dug. The connerstone was 
laid on July 7, 1933, by L W.Roberts, Jr. of the Treasury Dep- 
artment. 

The cost of the entire plant was about $5,000,000, coun- 
ting the cost of the tunnels, and the plant was built with six 
boilers to accomodate about 30 government buildings. At this 
time, 1936, seventy-one buildings are being heated by the plant, 
while its operation is still under the designed capacity, there 
is room in the building for two more boilers. 

Plant operation was begun din January 15, 1934, and the 
largest heating plant in the world, with a guaranteed efficiency 
of 62%, was serving, from C, D, 12th, & 13th Sts., S, W., buildings 
as far as three-fourths of a mile away. 



HISTORY AND DEVELO OF TIT:' WASHINGTON 
CEfl TI 

FQBEWARD 

Because of the ev^r widening program of cons' tion 
of government buildings in I \ nation's capital, the prob] ' : 
of supply!", bl em with heat and p^v:er had become, in itself, 
alarmi ] ] during the past decade. This • blem was or- 
iginally met by installation of indj rj ' ial heating plants in 
the larger buildings, such as in the Bureau of Engraving and 
Printing, and by a small network of steam mains from the heat- 
ing plant at Nineteenth Street and Constitution Avenue. 

Later, however, it became ev- that such a system 
was, for reasons shown later, not feasible, and the Washington 
Central Heating Plant as we know it became a dr a Df such men 
as Colonel U. S. Grant, 3rd., Captain F. V, 7 . Hoover; the late Mr. 
James F. Gill; Mr. Charles A. Peters, Jr., ie former office 
of Public Buildings and Parks of the National Capital; Mr. J. F. 
Berkley, of the Bureau of Mines; and Messrs. N. S. Thompson and 
E, W. Goodwin, of the Procurement Division, Treasury Depart .eat. 
These men, among others, realized that if individual plants were 
installed in each new building, not only would much-needed space 
be taken up, but many small plants would be undesirable for the 
following reasons: 

(l) Efficiency varies as the size of the heating plant. 

(?) The smoke nuisance would be widely diversified and 



r 



highlj s ' ral "I e . 

(5) Traffic congestion In d s woul< 1 i greatly 

in creased 1 tion of coal ashes + o and fr 

public buildings. 

The f ar-s igh s c f t h " j s e rr e n - " the act ua 1 c e - 
^s is amply attested by these facts: The "ultimate pi: '" 
s for th ' Lng plant tc ■ 4 hs twenty-seven 

buildings shown on the accon " ketch. At preseni (1936} 
the plant supplies heat and power to a botal of seventy-one build- 
ings and sul ■" LesJ The fact that space was provided for the 

snt of the equipment from six boilers 
to have been only a conservative plan for onlc >nt. How ■ j 
equipment as originally installed has been capable of handl- 
ing the almost trebled r« " nts, without the nee 
additj , d great flexibility is thus still possible. 

With the stage set for 1 ' central plant, 

plans progressed with alacrity. Under 4 he aus Lcies f 4 he 
United es Government, tb t was designed by United Engi- 
neers and Constructors, Inc., of Phil; ' , w11 ' Ipe 
Cret, as associal tir architect. The Treas " t, 
rough the brilliant mei ' of Neal A. Melick, Unite " n- 
struction Engineer, supervisor" ' ■• building the * project. 
He was ably assisted by Herman J. Pounds (shown a1 right in p*c J 
of ;: ' ] rs) and John W. Shonack, assistanl Bonstruction Engineer 
(shown at left in same ph) 



DIAGRAM OF BUILDINGS HSATED BY THE PLANT 

Red lines show conduit tunnels. Legend, see next page. 




DIAGRAM OF BUILDINGS HEATED BY THE PLANT 

1- Commerce Department 

2- Labor Dep't. of Interstate Commerce 

3- Post Office 

4- Internal Revenue 

5- Department of Justice 

6- Archives Building 

7- Apex Building 

8- District of Columbia Building 

9- Treasury Department 
10-Treasury Annex 

11 -National Museum 

12-Smithsonian Institute 

13-Freer Art Building 

14-01d National Museum 

15-Army Medical Museum 

16-Department of Agriculture 

17-Extensible Building 

18-Lodge 

19-Auditor's Building 

20-Bureau of Engraving and Printing 

21-Liberty loan Building 

22-Federal Warehouse 

23-Munlcipal Center 

24-Court House 

25-Pension Bureau 

26-01d Patent Building 

27-Land Office Building 



PLANT HII 

ta1 " '11, 1921, by Trea- 
sur ' ' ' 3, details were . ' ^he 

s true tic Washl Ln the 

square bound' C, D, IPth and 12th Str bs, ■'.'". It was an- 
nounced at this time that the decision to actually construct the 
heating plant had I le subsequent + * Lon of 

land by the United States Goverr. it, i -id In accordance with 

s then eltl • under cons' ' a or : ] con- 
struction. 

At that t T at was designed to furnish 

and p to the ti '. -seven bull " i 

etch. The contractors chosen i 'ive: Rust Engi ' . 
of ' ' builders; Combustion " " ■' "' .. 

, boiler engineers; Piping : ■ •> 

of North G ■ , N id P. an . r, Ellis, Washi a, 

D.C. tun ' ' ' and D . J. Mel b, " , D.C. 

E xc- v; t ion. 

"The Is pi' I bely to furnish ste 
buildings, which in an average year will consume a 
1,500,000,000 lbs. s + earn. Tl it Ins 

ess, and the future incr '' f by ex- 
tending the plant am ins to £ " . . 

'Idings wl * '11 be :: jlied 
Lght and po?;er in the initial J ' LI c roxl- 

mately S4,000,OC t electric c 

a maximum i I electr'cal disti * ' syste r- 

imately 18,0"" The future extensions will increas bhese de- 
ids by about 25$. Specie 



-4- 

attention will be given to the architectural features of the plant, 
which will he approved by ''The Fine Arts Co ~ mission of Washington." 

It is of interest to note that so recently as five years 
ago the "ultimate plan" was to supply steam and power to ty- 
six buildings, whereas in reality at this date the number of 
building extensions and auditoriums hat* mounted to a total of 
seventy-one. 

On October P7, 193S, the Treasury Department adver- 
tized for bids for the foundation and superstructure of the heat- 
ing plant. In conjunction with the note above, an* interesting 
point is that at this time (October 27 , 193?) the plant was 
stated to be designed for thirty or more buildings. The "ulti- 
mate plan" mentioned above by the Treasury Department had, in 
less than two years, already begun to expand. 

At the time of advertisement for bids, about ?0% of 
the then necessary tunnels had been dug, and the boilers were 
in process of fabrication, in the shops of the Combustion Engi- 
neering Co. of New York. Excavation of the plant site had been 
nearly completed, and were, at the time bids were let, December 
1, 1932. 

On the 7th July, 19??, the Cornerstone was laid by L. 
W. Roberts, Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. At the 
tome of laying, the plant was characterized as the largest of 
its kind in the world, and this is still true to-day. It v 
estimated by this time that thirty eig ent buildings 
would be wupplied with he; id power by the plant, which v 
virtually all the government buildings exne M those on Ca] ' ! 
Hill. It was also '' at that time that ; lanl lid 



-5- 
dy to begin operation about the beginning of 1934. '^he 
reasons and advantages of '~ ' g a central plant for steam pro- 
duction vore again brought out by F. P. Fairehi Id, represent- 
ing "The United Engineers and Constructors of Phi ladelphia r , 
present at the ceremony of cornerstone laying v ; ho stated that 
not only would the cost' of steam be less, on any basis, but that 
the advantages, as pointed out e] sre, of not havi carry 
coal and ashes through the city, and the even more ! it one 
of easy smoke prevention, would in themselves justify the exp' - 
ditures for the Washington Central Heating Plant. Weal A. Melted, 
United States Construction Engl leer " , presided s + the corner- 
stone ceremony. 

For an undetermined reasc ■ sld ' Lscrepancy in esti- 
mated costs of various government build* I pub- 
lished report of the construction program fostered by President 
Hoover. In the report, published f. f ay 13, 1931, estimations for 
the Washington Central Heating Plant r the figure 
$4,^57, or?, or about one million dollars under the figure which 
was submitted to and approved by Congress the following year. 

On January 15, 19?4, the first carload of coal was 
delivered to the coal shed of the plant. At the rear of the city 
bloc 1 ^ covered by the plant, the coal shed, was the fi rut c^ep In 
the almost c iletely atically controlled s st i . The coal 
was dumped from the car onto an endless conveyor belt, a d pro- 
ceeded from there through its many stages, as may be seen from 
an examination of the coal i ' am, until it was br to rest 
as sluice ashes in the ash shed, only a few feet fron its point 
of delivery. 



All the pipe lines had been connected, and needed 
only the opening of a valve to throw any bu'lding into the sys- 
tem. After a fire had been built under one boiler and prelimi- 
nary tests run on the delivery lines for safety under working 
pressures, the huge Extensible Building of the Department of Ag- 
riculture began receiving steam. 

By March 6, 1934, fifteen buildings were being served, 
and others were cut into the system as occasion demanded. The 
plant had been officially accepted by The Treasury Depj mt, 
and the largest and most efficient heating plant in the world 
was in continual operation. 

Since its inception, daily charts have b 'en kept on 
its operation, and there has never been the slightest breakdown 
of any kind. One may inspect the plant with mingled feelings, 
but the two questions that occur to most engineers, or embryo 
engineers, on leaving, are these: 

"Does this plant foretell £ " F entirely auto- 
matic ■ Lne layouts, never needing man's attention?" 

"Is there a definite future for Immense central 
heating plants, with boiler pressures of 1500 lbs. and more, and 
approximately 1500 degrees sup ; led by some 

present-day engineers? Will they serve entire cities of the 
future?" 

Perhaps these questions, and others, ere beside the 
point, but their v ry tone cannot help but entrance us of thi 



-7- 



PLANT OPERATION 

CONTROL 

» 

Mention has been i of the fact that the l on 
Central Heating -Plant is the la: in the world. To one In- 
specting the plant, the outstanding characteristic of operation 
is that of automatic control, king possible the automatic 
operation of the plant over ' ■• • riod of time. 

A master control pi ael tells at a ;e the amount 
and c li1 ion of steam produc ■' ■ ~ " ! : 1 used 

for its production as well as the c " "7 of the 

condensate returned to J I 1 -.ilers. This ~;1 as well 

as the ' [dual boiler panels Lsc sed 1< t >r , 1 1 e set to 

"■: te either by hand - In ' ease + ee s + ■■ f be 
regulated fro "~ T ite J ' - or its set'* be 

ff au1 tic n , v:hich will keep *-'-,- f " at an 
'el, regar less of any surroundi conditions. 

For 3i ch o J " the six boil ^e is a sub-control 
panel. Upon snd the efficiency of >er< ( ' >n:- each 

boiler must at ell times carr ' ' >r >rti ate re of 1 ' 
' load. In addition to information on condition of steam 
mt of fuel and returned snsate, the sub-pane] like- 
wise allow? control of: load ac lent; water level in 1 tier; 
and pressures attal led by for raft (supplying air for c< 1- 

stion at grate); induced draft (in;: ' ores:: ' 
for discharge of flue gases); and ■ i isarj In opera- 



-8- 

tion of uptake damper , in chimney. Revolving charts record all 
the above conditions for the preceeding P4 hour period, snd thus 
a minute by minute record is available fro.' files for any phase 
of operation sinc^ the inception of the plant. 

Power activating all seven control panels is supplied 
by one of two Bailey Air Compressors, supplying air to the 
panels at 60 lbs. per square Inch gage. Power for the com- 
pressor is supplied by a POS volt E.G. rotor, drawing P0.3 amps, 
and producing 3 H.P. at 1745 R.P.M. (60 cycle). The com- 
pressors automatically maintain 60 lbs, pressure, and are sup- 
lementary. 

BOILERS 

Steam Is supplied by 6 boilers, made by Walsh and 
Weidner, a division of Combustion Engineering Corporation. 
Specifications of a boiler are as follows: 
Heating Surface, ?5,p4?; square feet 
Safe Pressure, 400 lbs. pe - " square inch 
Working Pressure, POO lbs. per square inch 

Note: All pressures gage. 
Tubes: 4" outside diameter, . l?5 ff thick, 45 tubes wide, 
each P4 r long. 

Lower bank, 5 tubes high 
Upper bank, 16 tubes high 
Boiler drum, 60" O.D. 1 9/16 inch welded seam plate 
Overall length, 35 feet 4 3/8 Inch 
Overall furnace width 26' 6" 
Overall furnace depth 20' 0" 
Peed water inlet, A v , each end 



-9- 

Steam outlet, IP" 

Safety valves: 7, graduated every P lbs. from P14 to rrr 

lbs. inclusive. 

Efficiency Q2% guaranteed, at 1P9,000 lbs. steam per hour. 

Maximum possible operation: 

P15,000 lbs. steam per hour for P4 hours 
pr 7,000 lbs. steam per hour for F hours 

(All conditions for dry saturated steam at PIP F.) 

All refractory walls, 9" thick, cooled by air and water, 

plus S n plastic insulation above furnace. 

Water (see accompanying diagram) is passed through a 
softener, capacity 70,000 gallons per minute, and thence to a 
190,000 gallon treated water storage tank. From the tanks, 
feed water pumps supply water under P75 lbs. to boilers. This 

1 er at 50° F., comprises only 60$ of water fed to boilers, r.s 
about 40$ is returned as condensate through return pipes at 
175 F. Both boiler steam temperature and exhaust steam tem- 
perature remain nearly constant at about ri8° F. There are ti 
boiler feed water pumps per boiler, run by l PPO0 R.P.M. single- 
pressure single-velocity turbine, using steam at F00# and ex- 
hausting at 4#. The pump is a Frederick Iron and Steel Pump, 8 
stage centrifugal, S75 foot head, backed by s Kingsbury Thrust 
Bearing, P000#, PG50 R.P.?,?., Z shoes. Pump capacity is 1500 
gallons P.M. For summer use a 4 stage pump of 400 G.P.M. driven 
by a Westinghouse motor. 

All time peak operation of the plant as of any one da; 
was calculated as follows on January P8, 19?6: 
15, 7.Z7, 000 lbs. steam 



-10- 

639,000 lbs. steam hourly Ioj 

Coal consumed , 7PS short tons per day. (l ' dourly demand oc- 
curred on December £6, 1935, when ^5,000 lbs. steam per b r was 
required.) On basis of above figures, a 1 e daily use of coal 
reqi * ■ for steam produced was .095 lbs. coal per lb. steam, or 
1 lb. coal produced about 100 lbs. steam. 

STOKERS AND ASH HANDLING 

Ono of the most noteworthy Characteristics of the Wash- 
ington Central Heating Plant is the method employed for supply:! 
coal to the furnaces. At its inception, it was the only one 
use, and only since has i^s operation proven so efficient, that 
many plants have adopted it. 

Coal (see diagram) is fed int a rectangular tube from 
a hopper. In the tube there are 15 rams, working as Ls1 >ns 
from a crankshaft outside the furnace. Power is supplied to the 
crankshaft by a turbo-driven hydraulic oi] pump. Oil pressure 
in the pump is 3 to 6 lbs. S.A.E. "P0" oil is used, recircu- 
lated, and the pump develops 30 H. D . at 33£0 R.P.I . These rams - 
of variable stroke - push the coal onto the grate, where combus- 
tion takes 'place with a^r forced from below. The coel is used 
dry and. is Pennsylvania No. 17, bituminous, of 1/4 W raesl . The 
clinker droos to a pre-crusher, where it is ground to a fairly 
uniform egg size. From the pre-cr ■ the clinker drops to a 
sloping platform, from which it is peri dit 11] ad by jets 
of water, to an underground passage. From this passage the 
WEter and clinker is pumped by a Westinghouse w Sluj ' ;g 
System" which consists of 100 H.P. centrifugal pumps, and one 




Modern in every respect, with no towering chimneys, Uncle Sam's giant heating plant of 30,000 horsepower rapacity is shown in above photographs as 
engineers prepare to start fives tomorrow. The plant, at left above, shows onl y tips of Its six steel stacks, which soon will be covered with ornamental stainless 
steel decorations. Coal is brought by rail, dumped in the track hopper house, shown upper left, and carried by conveyor belt through tunnel under D street to 
plant, where it is hoisted to bunkers. From bunkers it runs down through huge pipes into the automatic stokers i lower left), Herman J. Bounds. U, S. mechanical 
engineer, at right, and John W, Shorrock, assistant construction engineer who supervised the construction, are shown at controls. Ashes are sluiced out of the 
pit and pumped by the ash pump house shown alongside the track hopper house, upper right, into the ash storage bin, in top of the track hopper taoust 
disposition either by railroad or truck. At lower right is shovn a maze of basement pipe and filter tank Insulation work, where. waJtei is softened for hollers 
in order to prevent scale. 



( 







-12- 



The six hi 
plant, if seen at all. -' Ltectural blinds of stainless si 
"■ound each one, and a1 ' )n is never focussed on them, as 
oil; gases to pass through are colorless and cannot b * ?d. 
In conclusion, my reactions to this brief study of the 
Washington Central Heating Plant are probal" J dent 
! . ' Ls treatise. To my mind, It pr ' s an outstanding bulwi 

sfense of Americ * I of tl vi t- 

ness and general excel ' ' , but also because 
of the resourcefulness * ' i s of tl " '?rs, ! 
" all, but hi ' Lis of cons J 

, - . ■ ^ . ■ t nay 1 2 a lied br i ef ] 

joints, a] ' ' of t ains 
: an importanl ' ' nduit 

tunnels Lly . Also, ! ' Implic- 

Prom ?00 lbs, to 
j ] : f !■••■■■ 

the pr r, in f* the Treasury Building, 

following 




Important, parts of the new wide-spreading steam distribution system 
carrying heat to many Federal buildings from the centra] heating plant in 
Southwest Washington are shown above. Top picture, a "single-stage reduc- 
ing station" In basement of Treasury Department, which reduces the steam 
pressure from 300 pounds per square inch to lower pleasure far radiators, and 
below, a view of the vital double -expansion joints which allow the huge 18 
and 12 inch mains to expand under heat and to slip without leaking steam 
under high pressure. Lower picture shows also general view of the Fifteenth 
street steam tunnel looking north. 



BI] _.'.J_Z 

mfacturers' Rec : July, 
■ • r: 1928 
Washing t< r: 1" 
>n Star: 1 1 
Washington b tar: ] 
Was 1 " Star: IS 

P Interior: 
ir -r. Charles A. P^tsrs, Jr., Assistant Director 
Mr. H. L. Wc ' n ■ itive Offd 

Bulletin: War " Centr " ant for Public 
' Idings .