GOSHEN – Goshen College students need more sunny days this year because they are hoping to heat the water at the campus REC center by using sunshine.
This has been in the works for the past three years now. Students helped design and build most of the project themselves.
Right now, solar energy is only going to be used to heat the showers at the REC center but students and teachers say they want this to catch on throughout campus and around the world.
“The aim of this is to replace the use of natural gas, which would normally be used in a boiler to heat the water,” said John Buschert, a physics professor at Goshen College. “Instead, we are heating it from solar energy.”
The way it works is tubes absorb heat from the sun and heat up the water. The hot water, which can reach temperatures of 150 to 180 degrees, is stored in a giant outdoor tank.
The system can be used year round and has the ability to store heat for three to four days, so even on cloudy days the showers will still be warm. The gas boiler can be used as a backup in extreme cases. The idea is to replace natural gas but more importantly have less of an impact on the environment.
“It is not a particularly good time economically to do it. We are not going to make money on this system in any sense,” said Buschert. “But we are going to reduce the amount of carbon we are putting into the atmosphere.”
Today, it starts at the REC center at Goshen College but tomorrow it can be the world.