Pipeline Heat Project Recaptures Energy With Chevy’s Help

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Pipeline Heat Project Recaptures Energy With Chevy’s Help

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 11:30am

CAMPAIGN: Chevrolet Carbon-Reduction Initiative


When a jet airplane takes off, its gas turbine engines emit energy to provide the necessary lift to get the plane off the ground. The evidence of that energy is in the squiggly waves you see trailing the plane as it rises into the sky.

But gas turbine engines aren’t just used for air travel. They factor in to Chevrolet’s most recent carbon reduction project.

A natural gas pipeline from Canada crosses Minnesota on its way to its final destination in Chicago. Along the way there are compressor stations spaced every 40 or 50 miles that use 39,000-horsepower gas turbine engines to recompress the gas – a necessary step to keep it flowing. But these mammoth engines also give off exhaust at temperatures in the range of 900 degrees Fahrenheit, real energy that is wasted when it escapes into the air.
To recover and use this energy, Basin Electric, a North Dakota-based consumer-owned electric utility, teamed up with a company called Ormat Technologies to put the waste heat to good use: They capture and turn it into electricity. Watch the video above to see how it’s done.
The generator in Garvin, Minn. is rated at about 5.5 megawatts, about what is required to power 4,400 residential homes. Although this kind of waste heat recovery is a rarity among the 1,400 compressor stations in the country, it serves as a unique model for other projects looking to create electricity more efficiently.
The total carbon-reduction goal for all of Chevrolet’s projects combined is equivalent to the 2011 emissions created from driving the 1.9 million vehicles Chevrolet sold in the United States between Nov. 18, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2011.

Learn more about Chevy’s carbon-reduction initiative and contribute yourself by planting a virtual tree on your Facebook wall. For each tree planted, Chevrolet, in partnership with the National Forest Foundation, will plant a real tree in a U.S. forest next year, up to 175,000 total trees.



Sharon Basel
General Motors