Miura Boilers & Duke University

For decades, when Duke University students walked down Coal Pile Drive on the Durham, North Carolina campus, they were greeted by heaps of, well, coal. But, these days, the black piles that used to fuel a coal-burning plant have given way to a natural gas-fired steam plant.

Known as Duke's West Campus Steam Plant, the facility is part of the university's steam system, which provides high-pressure steam to the entire Duke University, hospital and medical center community by using natural gas and fuel oil. Steam is distributed through 35 miles of distribution piping and is used for space heating, hot water heating, dehumidification, hospital medical equipment sterilizing, dining services, pool heating, dishwashing and other process uses.

The West Campus Steam Plant burned its last load of coal in April 2011, marking the elimination of Duke's use of coal in steam plants campus-wide. After a 32-year hiatus, in 2010 Duke's East Campus Steam Plant re-opened following a renovation. Also discontinuing the use of coal, the renovated plant features 15 natural-gas powered Miura boilers, which require less water and time to produce steam. The switch to natural gas-fired steam plants marked an important step in Duke's plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024.