Skip to Content
MIT Index

Cogeneration next

Facts and figures to sustain your inner geek
June 26, 2019
Rendering of planned Co-generation building
Rendering of planned Co-generation building
Rendering of planned Co-generation buildingsources: miT Utilities, MIT News office; rendering courtesy of Ellenzweig, architect

Over the past century, while MIT researchers have tracked the world’s search for cheaper, more efficient technologies to power a growing and industrializing population, an energy system in miniature has been blazing the same trail in their own backyard. In 1916, the Institute made the far-sighted decision to build a centralized power and steam plant on its new campus, moving from coal to oil in the 1930s. It began buying power from the grid in 1938, but the oil shock of the 1970s led MIT to create its own power again; in 1995 it opened a cogeneration plant that reuses waste heat. Upgrades now under way will make the Central Utilities Plant even more efficient as it continues to power MIT’s growth and point the way to a clean energy future.

How does cogeneration work?

A diagram of how co-generation works
Graphic reading

The current plant produces:

1,327,769,647  pounds of steam per year
58,251,997  tons of chilled wate
1,327,769,647  pounds of steam per year

The upgraded plant will offset:

a 10% increase in carbon emissions from campus growth
and help MIT reduce carbon emissions  32%  by 2030

An archival drawing of the MIT campus
This 1929 drawing of the MIT Cambridge campus shows the Utilities Plant in the upper left corner located along the railroad tracks
MIT Central Utilities Plant
The upgrade will allow  CUP to meet 90%  of the demand on MIT’s grid, up from roughly 50% now.
Kripa Varanasi’s research group has installed a pilot system to capture water typically lost from the cooling towers atop the CUP’s roof and reintroduce the water back into the plant. The researchers estimate that the system could save CUP 15 million gallons of water
An existing 20-megawatt  turbine will be replaced by  two 22-megawatt turbines  that will use natural gas  as their primary fuel
The two new turbines  will sit  12' 8

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Death and Jeff Bezos
Death and Jeff Bezos

Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Funders of a deep-pocketed new "rejuvenation" startup are said to include Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.

ai learning to multitask concept
ai learning to multitask concept

Meta’s new learning algorithm can teach AI to multi-task

The single technique for teaching neural networks multiple skills is a step towards general-purpose AI.

Professor Gang Chen of MIT
Professor Gang Chen of MIT

All charges against China Initiative defendant Gang Chen have been dismissed

MIT professor Gang Chen was one of the most prominent scientists charged under the China Initiative, a Justice Department effort meant to counter economic espionage and national security threats.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.