Wigwam Gets Greener

Wigwam continues to reduce its impact on the environment by installing a solar process water heating system.
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“We are excited to find a feasible way to lessen our impact on the environment,” said Margaret Chesebro, field marketing manager for Wigwam. “Wigwam is dedicated to being a good corporate citizen in all of our endeavors, so using solar power is simply one more way that we are making a meaningful difference in an environment where there are so many false ‘green' marketing claims.”

Wigwam installed an array of 27- 4'x10' solar thermal collectors on the roof of its plant in Sheboygan. The system will generate enough solar energy to reduce 2,815 therms of natural gas combustion. By eliminating the consumption of natural gas, the system will result in the reduction of 15.5 tons of green house gases per year.

The system is used for pre-heating water that is converted to steam for processing goods in the dye house and humidifying the plant. The solar system is estimated to provide 45 percent of the heat required for this process on an annual basis. The percentage takes into account seasonal variations in temperature and weather.

“The system is really quite simple,” said engineer and system designer Craig Tarr, PE of Energy Concepts, Inc. www.energyconcepts.us. “The solar array on the roof captures the sun's heat. A pump circulates the heated glycol fluid (nontoxic freeze protected solar fluid) to a heat exchanger. The heat exchanger transfers heat to water that is stored in two large storage tanks. These storage tanks hold the water that once pre-heated can be supplied to the steam boiler. The more solar energy collected, the hotter the water that will be fed to the boiler, thus the less work the boiler has to do to convert the water to steam.

“Though there is a payback on the system and cost savings in the first eight to nine years, that was not our primary driver to install the system,” said Chesebro. “We made the upgrade because we knew that it was the right thing to do.”

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