Sandia Supports Renewable Energy at Quantico Marine Base

November 11, 2003

When the U.S. Marine Corps at Quantico, VA, wanted to include renewable resources in their base energy security mix, they relied upon DOE's Sandia National Laboratories to bring a solar hot water project to successful completion earlier this year. Sandia managed the contract from procurement through final inspection, serving as liaison between Quantico and the system contractor, BTF.

The solar hot water system offsets energy needed to heat an Olympic-sized swimming pool at Ramer Hall. The collector aperture area (the portion of the collector that absorbs the solar energy) is 280 square feet, large enough to realize an annual cost savings of about $3,000. Base energy managers, eager to strengthen their already comprehensive energy security plan, realized that using renewable energy (in this instance solar energy) served that purpose.

The Ramer Hall system is a simple antifreeze closed loop system, whereby antifreeze is circulated from outside the heat exchanger through solar collectors in a continuous cycle. The collectors are Heliodyne Gobi 410, which should require no maintenance other than an occasional visual inspection. The heat exchanger, made by Young Touchstone, is a shell-and-tube-type designed for counter flow. A Grundfos pump provides the proper flow rate for the collectors, and a Compool Solar Control System that uses a differential thermostat completes the components.

Backup for the system is steam, which is supplied by a nearby plant and is fed to the pool system mechanical room via pipes. A three-valve bypass was installed in front of the existing steam heat exchanger. When the bypass valve is closed and the valves to and from the solar heater exchanger are open, pool water flows through the solar heat exchanger before going to the steam heat exchanger. If the solar pump is running and circulating warm antifreeze through the shell side of the heat exchanger, the steam heat exchanger's automatic control will not sense the need to add heat from the conventional, backup heat source. Sandia recommended installation of a Btu meter to verify that the system is working and to determine how much energy is supplied by the solar portion of the system.

Under the BTF contract, maintenance and operations manuals and training were provided for Ramer Hall facilities and maintenance staff.

Ready to capitalize on the success of this solar hot water project, Quantico energy officials have identified other projects where renewable energy is both practical and economical, such as other hot water systems and parking lot lights.

For technical specifications and further information contact the following individuals at Sandia National Laboratories: Marlene Brown at or Dave Menicucci at