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UBC David Strangway Building

Between 2011 and 2017, the University of British Columbia has transitioned its primary heating source from their aging central steam plant to a new central hot water plant.

As part of the transition, each individual building required its heat exchangers to be replaced to suit the new primary heating source. Being a world-class research university, several buildings served by the central plant still require a reliable source of steam for process loads and/or humidification. This is the case for the David Strangway Building, which is the home of UBC’s dental clinic, where autoclaves are used daily to sterilize instruments.

UBC David Strangway Building. Source: Flickr
  • Client
    University of British Columbia
  • Location
    Vancouver, BC
  • Contractor
    Davidson Bros.
  • Consultant
  • Equipment Supplied
    Fulton VSRT-30 steam boiler complete with feedwater, blowdown, and chemical feed systems.
Fulton VSRT 30 HP steam boiler. Source: Fulton

Dialog Engineering approached Raven Supply for assistance in selecting a steam boiler and ancillary equipment that would be able to provide consistent dry steam for the autoclaves. Their biggest challenge was finding equipment that would be compact enough to fit inside the extremely tight mechanical room while providing enough horsepower to satisfy the load. The room is also below grade near the center of the building adjacent to a parkade, with ventilation fans creating negative pressure inside. While this may seem like an impossible combination of constraints, Raven Supply had the perfect weapon for the job, the Fulton VSRT.

Boiler being commissioned after installation, prior to demolition of pipework above.

With the VSRT’s ultra-compact footprint, Raven and Dialog were able to locate the boiler in a position that would allow adequate access for UBC’s maintenance staff, with just barely enough room overhead to service the burner. It took careful planning between UBC, Davidson Bros., and Dialog to ensure that enough clearance would be allowed after all of the piping retrofit work was completed. To overcome the room pressurization issue, the combustion air was ducted directly to the boiler’s intake.

Thanks to the VSRT’s high pressure blower, the flue venting could be routed over 80 feet horizontally through the parkade, and neatly terminated at the building façade using Security CIX Pro sealed venting. With 30 HP of capacity, a large water volume, and a 6:1 turndown ratio, the boiler is able to track the load with exceptionally high steam quality.

Being the first VSRT steam boiler in BC, the Raven team was quick to ensure that everything ran smoothly. UBC’s project manager commented:

I enjoyed working with Raven, everyone is responsive and available. Tony was really good to deal with and really wanted to get the boiler working well for us. No request was an issue for you and your team… The presentation had great feedback from the operations team and addressed all the requirements set out by UBC… Excellent communication and responsive and collaborative.

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