Local news

Steam system cures concrete faster, saves company money

A Spokane Valley company that plays a key role in building highways across the Western U.S. has found a way to save significant amounts of energy at its manufacturing plant.

Central Pre-Mix Prestress Co. recently installed a new high-efficiency boiler system and insulated steam pipes to cut natural gas consumption by nearly 195,000 therms a year. A therm is about 100 cubic feet of natural gas.

The steam system accelerates the curing time for concrete so that the plant can turn out components day to day.

“For us, it certainly helps save money, and it’s the right thing to do,” said Chuck Prussack, vice president and general manager.

The new system replaces an old 300 horsepower boiler that was part of the original plant that opened in 1958 to build pre-tensioned concrete components.

The two new boilers each are rated at 90 horsepower, Prussack said.

Avista Utilities offered a $180,000 rebate, which was given to the company last week.

Central Pre-Mix invested some $375,000 in the new boilers, new insulated piping and a heat recovery system in its boiler flues.

Steve Beaulieu, utilities specialist at the concrete company, said the remaining investment will be paid off through energy savings in three to four years.

The steam is piped through a casting bed that holds forms being filled with concrete and pre-tensioned steel. The heat allows the concrete to harden overnight at 158 degrees Fahrenheit.

Without the system, it might take a week or two in cold weather to cure the concrete.

Tensioning is an engineering technique that increases the strength of weight-bearing beams and girders.

Central Pre-Mix Prestress has been a key supplier of bridge girders for the North Spokane Corridor as well as a railroad underpass structure along Market Street.

The company has been supplying components for a new Facebook server campus in Prineville, Ore., along with bridges in the Columbia River Gorge and Hawaii.

A new Havana Street bridge over the BNSF Railway tracks just south of Trent Avenue is another project using Central Pre-Mix Prestress components, Prussack said.

The Avista rebate check was instrumental in getting corporate approval for the project, company officials said.

During the recent economic downturn, transportation work has made up 75 percent of the plant’s business. Before the recession, it was a third of the business or less.

Prussack said he had been bothered by the inefficiency of the old boiler that may have been refitted from a Navy ship.

“There was a lot of it (energy) that went up the stack,” he said.

Central Pre-Mix Prestress is an affiliate of CPM Development Corp. under the larger Oldcastle Materials Inc.

ISP offers road safety class

The Idaho State Police is offering a road safety class on Saturday at 9 a.m. at its regional office at 615 W. Wilbur Ave., in Coeur d’Alene.

The free three-hour class will include winter driving techniques and other safe driving tips, including how to deal with aggressive and potentially intoxicated drivers.

To reserve a spot, call (208) 209-8620 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday. The class is limited to 60 drivers.

Health initiative anniversary

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner and regional health officials this morning will mark the one-year anniversary of the Let’s Move health initiative to reduce childhood obesity.

They will gather with students at Bemiss Elementary School, 2323 E. Bridgeport Ave., at 8:30 a.m. to draw attention to the nationwide effort started by first lady Michelle Obama.

INHS coordinator honored

Phyllis Dunlap, who coordinates commuter trip reduction at Inland Northwest Health Services, was given a “pinnacle award” for the success of INHS’ efforts to reduce commuter trips.

In 2010, the nonprofit corporation cut 16,000 commute trips, saving 180,000 miles of travel and reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

Mission Avenue open house

A public open house on reconstruction of Mission Avenue from South Riverton Avenue to Greene Street is planned for Thursday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Stevens Elementary School, 1717 E. Sino Ave.

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