Centralized Pre-Conditioned Air
The Port of Seattle’s Pre-Conditioned Air (PC Air) service heats or cools aircraft during boarding and deplaning to reduce energy costs for airlines, improve air quality, reduce noise and increase energy efficiency throughout Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. A centralized plant delivers pre-conditioned air through 15 miles of pipes to each of the airport’s 73 jet gates. This allows aircraft to shut down their auxiliary power units, which emit CO2 gases and other emissions, and add to airline fuel costs.
PC Air provides both environmental and financial benefits in keeping with the Port’s Century Agenda goal to reduce the airport’s carbon footprint and increase energy needs through conservation and renewable sources.
Each year, PC Air will save:
- An estimated 5 million gallons in fuel
- $15 million in fuel costs by the airlines
- 40,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide) - the pollution that causes global warming
- 73 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) - a nationally regulated air pollutant
- Greenhouse gas savings are equivalent to removing 8,000 cars off the road.
- And noise pollution from aircraft parked at the gates.
In addition, Sea-Tac obtains about 90 percent of its power from hydro-electric dams and 10 percent from renewable energy and nuclear sources. Both the cooled and heated air generated from PC Air emits substantially less pollution than the petroleum jet fuel in the aircraft’s auxiliary engines.
Over 15 miles of piping installed within the existing terminal connect all of the gates to a system of chillers and heaters to provide the pre-conditioned air. The central plant houses four 750 ton chillers that fill 16 ice storage tanks with ethylene-glycol solution cooled by electricity provided by the airport. Four secondary pumps circulate the chilled liquid through pipes to the gates for cooling. Alternately, the airport’s steam plant heats water that is piped to gates for heating. A heat exchanger at the gate directs the conditioned air through a telescoping duct on the jet bridges, to a ventilation hose and directly into the aircraft’s cabin.
The plant is designed with potential airport expansion in mind to manage up to 100 gates in the future.
Sea-Tac took advantage of the largest federal grant of its kind to off-set the costs of the $43 million project. Nearly $22 million is covered by Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) Grant
from the Federal Aviation Administration. Airport Development Funds, which come directly from fees charged to airlines, will pay the remainder. These fees will be offset by decreasing operating costs for a projected payback for the project in less than three years!
Start-up of the project began at gates on the A and B concourses along with the south satellite. The remaining concourses and north satellite will come on-line by the end of 2013.