Hollow Core Produced by Gate Precast Serves as Thermal Battery at SC Schools

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For the first time in the U.S., schools in Myrtle Beach, S.C., are adapting hollow-core planks for use as solid state thermal storage during construction of five new schools.

New SC schools rely on hollow-core concrete planks' thermal mass to store heated or cooled air. Designed by SFLA Architects

This is the first use of the innovative Canadian system in the U.S., and relies upon the planks’ mass to store the thermal energy of the heated or cooled air.

Gate Precast’s Oxford, NC, facility is producing 400,000 square feet of adapted hollow-core planks to function as “smart” floors for five schools in Myrtle Beach, S.C., while adapting them to serve as “thermal batteries” to support the facilities’ HVAC system.

This is the first use of the innovative Canadian system in the U.S., and relies upon the planks’ mass to store the thermal energy of the heated or cooled air. Designed by SFLA Architects of Raleigh, NC, the schools include Carolina Forest Middle School, Myrtle Beach Middle School, St. James Middle School, Sayebrook Middle School and Socastee Elementary School.

During the process, Gate is fabricating 10-inch hollow-core planks and utilizing the center three cores (of five) as ducting for the HVAC. The adaptation will allow the schools to use the planks as “thermal batteries,” reducing the typical daily fluctuations in energy consumption. Subsequently, the schools will purchase more of their energy at off-peak times in order to “charge” the planks.

The intelligent energy management system balances the supply of energy while relying upon significantly smaller HVAC equipment. “They will pump the conditioned air into the cores and then circulate the air back and forth,” said Gate Hollow Core Sales Manager Robert Kralowetz. “They are basically storing their heat or their cooled air in the planks. That cuts down on the mechanical equipment and the tonnage required to heat and cool the schools.”

Gate was instrumental in providing design-assist as early as 1.5 years prior to project bidding. In preparation for the project’s stringent design criteria and aggressive schedule, Gate installed three new 378-foot-steel form hollow core beds and purchased a new Ultra-Span Hollow-Core Power Plant and 10” Cassette providing the finest quality hollow-core plank finishes in the market while maintaining production levels to service the aggressive construction schedules. Gate is making critical in-plant modifications to the planks to accommodate the innovative system.

“The typical middle schools (Carolina Forest MS, Myrtle Beach MS, and St. James MS) have approximately 750 planks for a total of 85,000 square feet,” Kralowetz added. “The modified middle school (Sayebrook MS) has approximately 650 planks and 73,000 square feet, and Socastee Elementary School has approximately 500 planks at 64,000 square feet.”

More About Gate:
Gate Precast Company is a subsidiary of Gate Petroleum Company, a privately-held diversified corporation headquartered in Jacksonville, FL. Gate Precast has become one of the largest and most diversified precast concrete producers in the United States, with eight manufacturing facilities, and is known for its design-assist collaboration with design teams. Annually, the company is recognized as a top subcontractor by Engineering News-Record Magazine and wins Best-in-Class PCI Design Awards for a wide range of projects. For more information, please visit http://www.gateprecast.com.

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Jane Martin
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