NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. â€” Dark Start, a new energy-efficient technology, is coming to Nellis.
The program utilizes experimental technologies which could reduce energy consumption and costs for the base.
â€œItâ€™s a demonstration program thatâ€™s funded by a congressional insert and managed by the [U.S. Army] Corps of Engineers,â€ said Jeff Blazi, Nellis Energy Manager. â€œThe Corps works with the local utility – in this case, itâ€™s Southwest Gas Company – to develop the technologies.â€
The project utilizes a new type of heating, ventilation and air conditioning system that runs on natural gas instead of a conventional electric power source. The new system will have the capability to provide HVAC needs, as well as water heating and power production.
The project is a partnership with local utility companies to develop and test the experimental technology. At no cost to Nellis, new devices will be installed, maintained and monitored on the base. Dark Start will be the third phase of units developed in this project.
â€œThe first unit that was installed in 2008 was an experimental unit that wasnâ€™t commercially available,â€ said Blazi. â€œAfter successful testing, that unit is now a commercial unit, so you can actually go out and buy it on the street. Through the testing, weâ€™ve enabled Southwest Gas to develop this technology.â€
The Dark Start unit, like its predecessors, will run on natural gas, but will have two new functions.
â€œThe unit that weâ€™re looking at installing is not just a natural gas AC unit,â€ Blazi said. â€œThe Dark Start also has the capability to heat water going into the building and can generate up to two kilowatts of power. So, not only does it create cooling for the building, but it heats the water and generates electricity. And, all of these features will still run if the power goes out.â€
Nellis is working in a partnership with Southwest Gas on the project that, if proven successful, may be used on a large scale to include commercial and overseas use.
The unit currently running on Nellis saves the base approximately $1,000 a year.
Since 2003, Nellis has been mandated to reduce energy consumption by 3 percent. The target is to cut base energy use by a third by fiscal year 2015.
â€œThe goal is to save energy,â€ Blazi said. â€œNellis is serious about energy efficiency.â€