The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, June 11, 1975, Image 1

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Partly cloudy and mild Wed
nesday and Thursday. North
erly winds 7-10 mph. High
today 84; low tonight 66; high
Thursday 86.
Che Battalion
Traffic Panel
p. 2
Baseball 11
Fem Sports p. 16
Vol. 68 No. 122
College Station, Texas
Wednesday, June 11,1975
TAMU engineers
drive alcohol truck
The July 1975 issue of a popu
lar auto magazine says that Euro
pean researchers hope by 1980 to
produce a car that can switch at
will from gasoline to pure methyl
alcohol as a fuel.
A pair of Texas A&M Univer
sity chemical engineering profes
sors have been chuckling and
showing the article as they roar
around the countryside in their
Datsun pickup that sports a sign
on the door reading “Experi
mental Vehicle Methanol Fueled.”
Drs. Bill Harris and Richard
Davison realized years ago that al
ternate fuels were going to be
needed as the gasoline shortage
“But we also realized that you
couldn’t just walk out one day
and junk all the gas-powered
autos,” Davison reasoned. “This
called for the development of a
conversion system for an auto
that would be cheap and could be
put on by a reasonably mechani
cally minded person.”
“The exciting aspect of using
methanol is that it can conve
niently be produced from coal,”
he said. “Synthetic gasoline can
also be made, but the methanol
production will possibly be cheap
er and it is a superior fuel in many
The current coal reserves in the
U. S. are variously estimated 200
billion and 2 trillion tons —
enough to supply the energy
needs of the country for hundreds
of years.
“Methanol — what used to be
called wood alcohol — could be
the new source of energy we need
to help us through the oil shortage
and at the same time cut pollu
tion,” Davison added. “It is a
common substance made by the
millions of gallons for use in in
dustry and it is the only real alter
nate fuel that you can pour into
your gas tank.”
“Improved economy, lower ex
haust temperatures, lower emis
sions and improved engine per
City Briefs
Street improvements
The Texas Highway Commission recently adopted
improvement plans amounting to $489,400 for the Bryan-
College Station Metropolitan Area.
The approved work directly affecting College Station
includes the construction of a four lane section on Old
College Road from the FM 60 (University Drive) inter
change to the F&B Road intersection (where Pinfeather
Road almost meets with Old College Road). Last year the
Highway Commission approved an extension of the road
from the F&B Road north to Villa Maria Road.
Storm sewers, curbs, and gutters will be paid for by
the cities of Bryan and College Station.
Spending questioned
The question of how to spend 105,206 dollars will be
considered by the College Station City Council when it
meets Thursday night.
However, the answer to that question will not be the
councils’ alone. A public hearing on the issue will be held at
the meeting to provide the council with input on the
Among those present will be TAMU student body
president Jeff Dunn and graduate student council president,
Joe Marcello, who will present several specific recommenda
tions to the council on how the money should be spent.
“There are areas of College Station that we as stu
dents of TAMU would like to see renovated,” Dunn has
Also, Dunn has expressed a desire to see the money
spent on street repair and installation of traffic lights at
dangerous intersections.
formance are some of the advan
tages,” noted Harris. “Methanol is
easier to store, pour, pipe, and
pump than hydrogen, natural gas,
ammonia, or other proposed alter
nate fuels. It could be sold at your
neighborhood filling station with
out too much fuss. Even better,
methanol can be made from re
newable sources like garbage, saw
dust, or anything organic in addi
tion to the more finite source of
Methanol is high-octane, clean-
burning, and has at least as much
power as gas even though con
sumption is higher. However, the
problem that has stumped other
researchers is that methanol re
quires about seven times as much
heat at the intake manifold to ob
tain complete vaporization as does
gasoline. This means that at tem
peratures in the 40s or below a
straight methanol engine just
wouldn’t start.
This is where the Davison-
Harris breakthrough came in.
“The engine is started on gaso
line,” Harris pointed out. “As the
exhaust heats, it operates a boiler
around the exhaust pipe. The boil
er heats the methanol to the re
quired temperature, vaporizes it
within a few miles and with the
flip of a switch, the methanol is
fed through a demand regulator to
a venturi mounted below the air
cleaner at the intake of the con
ventional carburetor.”
“This eliminates the problems
of vaporization and carburetion,”
Davis explained. “The gasoline
system is left intact. One has a
dual fuel capability which leaves
the gasoline system unchanged
and allows the driver to use
whichever fuel is available.”
The Davison-Harris rig has been
in operation for about a month
and has logged several thousand
miles. This includes a journey
from College Station to Harlingen
where a standing joke developed
that “We made an 800 mile trip
on less than a gallon of gasoline.”
Funding for the project is com
ing from several contributors who,
as Davison and Harris are fond of
saying, are interested in actively
doing something to modify the
energy crisis.
Among them is John Hawley
of the Northern Pump Company
who gave a grant to the Chemical
Engineering Department at
TAMU, the Celanese Chemical
Company which is furnishing the
methanol, and Borg Warner Corp.
which contributed the parts for
the conversion system.
Pictured above is the control room of the TAMU Physical Plant power operation. The plant is capable of producing more than 35,000 kilowatts
of power, enough to supply the power needs of a city one third the size of Bryan.
TAMU Utilities
Physical plant efficient
The largest business and
money-producing agent in Brazos
County is the Texas A&M Univer
sity System. The backbone of the
$200,000,000 University is the
utility plant.
From a meager beginning of
two brick buildings and five cot
tages, the University has blos
somed into a complex of more
than 500 major buildings.
When Texas A&M was opened
in 1876, there were no adjacent
cities large enough to provide mu
nicipal services. Consequently, a
utility system was established
which has grown with the univer
sity. This has proved to be a wise
economic investment although
there was no choice in the begin
Remembrances and records of
the original physical plant seem to
be buried in forgotten places, but
by the early 1900’s, the power
plant was fueled by lignite coal.
This practice continued until
The lignite was brought to the
physical plant by railroad from
the Rockdale Mining Operations
in Rockdale, Texas. At that time a
spur of the railroad tracks termi
nated on the campus and coal
could be unloaded directly at the
physical plant. The physical plant
was then located on what is now a
parking lot across from the old
Student Exchange Store. Students
could work part-time shoveling
coal to help pay their $ 10 tuition
In 1928 the system changed
over to natural gas as a boiler fuel
because it was cheaper, cleaner
and easier to handle.
With the installation of a steam
turbine generator in 1930, TAMU
was well on its way to a total
energy system. Total energy sim
ply means getting the most for
your money through efficient pro
duction procedures. In this case,
total energy is gained by using
steam extracted from turbine gen
erators to produce heating, water
and chilled water for air condi
A total energy system uses one
initial energy source. The steam
produced by the initial source is
used more than once to satisfy
other energy needs. The TAMU
central power plant uses natural
gas or fuel oil as the original ener
gy source to fire boilers which
produce steam to drive turbines
that generate electricity. Lower
pressure steam is then extracted
form the turbines to produce
chilled water, heating water and
domestic hot water.
In the next step, all of the utili
ties are distributed to the campus
and some are returned to the cen
tral plant through a massive dis
tribution system. The heating
water and chilled water is then
recycled through the plant and re
distributed. This total energy con
cept provides a closed system and
increases efficiency.
Through this total energy
system the university saves money
and helps to conserve the nation’s
natural resources.
The university’s electrical plant
was capable of producing 10,000
kilowatts of power in 1962. The
plant is capable of producing
3 7,500 kilowatts today. This
37,500 kilowatt capacity is equiv
alent to the power requirements
of a city about one-third the size
of Bryan. In addition, an agree
ment with the City of Bryan and
the Brazos Electric Coop, both
members of the Texas Municipal
Power Pool, entitles TAMU to
draw up to 20,000 kilowatts in
case of failure of one or several of
the generators. Electricity use on
the campus recently peaked at
24.000 kilowatts so the present
capacity should be sufficient for
several years.
The power plant, valued in ex
cess of $31,000,000, has two
steam boilers which can produce
100.000 lbs. of steam per hour
and two which can produce
175.000 lbs. of steam per hour.
The steam from these boilers is
used to power four steam turbine
generators. The steam turbine gen
erators vary in capacity from
1,000 to 12,000 kilowatts. The
plant also has a gas turbine genera
tor producing 14,900 kilowatts
and reusing the heat in a waste
heat boiler (again, the total energy
Extracted steam at the lower
pressure of twenty lbs. per square
inch is then sent to the absorption
chillers. These chillers provide air-
conditioning for the university’s
buildings. There are eight 1,000
ton absorption chillers and three
3,350 ton centrifugal chillers and
all use lithium bromide as a cool
ant. The three centrifugal chillers
are powered by steam driven tur
bines producing 600 lbs. pressure.
The concept of using waste
steam to cool buildings at TAMU
began in the early 1960’s.
Some of the low-pressure waste
steam leaving the generators is
channeled into heat exchangers to
satisfy heating requirements. The
six heat exchangers have the abil
ity to produce 260,000,000
BTU’s per hour.
Natural gas for the plant is ob
tained through a contract with
Lone Star Gas Co. In addition, as
an emergency source, the univer
sity owns two 1,000,000 gallon
storage tanks and two 150,000
gallon tanks full of fuel oil. In the
event of a natural gas curtailment,
this fuel oil supply would last ap
proximately forty days.
See POWER, p. 2
Russian auto, highway engineer
ends TAMU, USA exchange visit
flifc n -M
Heather Sturdy (left) takes instruction from Bruce Woodfin on the finer points of pottery making. Both are
taking part in the Memorial Student Center’s summer arts and crafts workshop.
Russian engineer Yurii S. Stel’-
Makhovskii is completing a six-
day visit at Texas A&M University
this week.
The dean of faculty at Kiev
Motor Car and Highway Engineer
ing Institute is in the U. S. on a
mutual exchange package. It is
conducted by the U. S. and
U.S.S.R. governments on an
agreed equal exchange basis.
The basic purpose of his visit
here is to acquire information on
freeways operation and control
through the Texas Transportation
Stel’Makhovskii visits Wednes
day with Engineering Dean Fred
J. Benson. He also has conferred
with TTI Director Charles Keese
and several TTI research person
Hosting him at Texas A&M is
Dr. Don Woods, TTI associate re
search engineer. Stel’Makhovskii
departs Thursday for Houston and
two days at the TTI office there.
It is the control site of accident
investigation, motorist aid and
control systems research on Hous
ton freeways.
“He has seen everything ima
ginable in the last four days,”
Woods said Tuesday. “There is no
way to show him all facets of TTI
in this time span. But Yurii has
seen those of greatest interest to
At TTI facilities at the Re
search Annex, they included all
traffic operations and administra
tive areas and crash test facilities.
Methods used by TTI to film and
document research were exam
Tuesday and Wednesday were
devoted to scanning reference ma
terials and “deciding what he
wants to take back with him,”
Woods related.
The Tuesday lunch hour, with
sack lunches in the Civil Engineer
ing Building, was spent discussing
operation of the stock market and
credit cards. Woods and his asso
ciates took part.
“SterMakhovskii also is inter
ested in American culture and
life,” his host remarked. “Things
were arranged to give him as much
a view of our lifestyle as possi
The Russian transportation re
search agency official dined with
the Woods family one evening.
They also visited Winedale Inn
and lunched at the Roundtop
Stel’Makhovskii, 52, heads an
agency that is a close equivalent
of TTI. Where TTI works for
Texas and U. S. governmental
agencies on a contract basis, the
Kiev institute has a direct aca
demic and research responsibility
to the state of Ukraine. The visi
tor has written a textbook and
several scholarly articles.
Woods observed that Soviet
Russia and American transporta
tion systems have many similari
ties, and differ widely at other
Rural highways have the same
standard cross-sections. Conges
tion is.a morning and afternoon
problem in both countries.
“But where our congestion is
97 percent auto and three to four
percent public transportation,”
Woods related, “their’s is 80 per
cent buses and 20 percent cars.”
He noted that in the Moscow
and Kiev areas, the U.S.S.R. has
some freeway mileage. Apparently
to be expanded, the Russian free
way construction will use technol
ogy from Stel’Makhovskii’s visit
“trying to avoid making the mis
takes we made,” Woods said.
The visiting official earlier
spent several days in New York,
two weeks and more each in Los
Angeles and San Francisco and
two days in Dallas.
“Driving down from Dallas on
Interstate 35, we stopped for his
first close look at mobile homes,”
Woods related. “He also had ques
tions about utilities buildings,
which he thought at first were
“He is a fascinating fellow,”
Woods added. “And he asked
some questions that turned me
upside down.”