NORA opens liquid fuel research, training center for renewables

By The National Oilheat Research Alliance | June 03, 2016

The National Oilheat Research Alliance and two oilheating associations recently celebrated the opening of a new research and training facility designed specifically for oilheating fuels and renewables, such as Bioheat fuel.

Located in Plainview, New York, on Long Island, the 3,500-square-foot facility is operated by NORA in cooperation with the New York Oil Heating Association and the  Oil Heat Comfort Corp. It is known as both the NORA Liquid Fuels Research and Development Laboratory and the NYOHA/OHCC Technical Training Institute.

More than 50 visitors turned out for a grand opening celebration and tour. The building features a classroom that accommodates up to 20 students; a working lab with live-firing boilers and electronic testing and analysis equipment; and offices and a boardroom. It will host industry training and consumer education programs, enabling trainers to teach at a dedicated facility rather than having to rent space for events.

Renowned energy researcher Thomas A. Butcher keeps an office at the facility, where he will oversee NORA's research and development projects while also conducting research on heating equipment and liquid fuels.

One door over from Butcher sits John Levey, who serves as director of education for each of the associations that share the facility. He is developing and directing a variety of education programs, including oilheat technician training under the aegis of NORA and a variety of training programs for the New York associations, including air conditioning education for technicians and customer service training for office personnel.

“It is really exciting to have a bricks-and-mortar presence of our own that we can all use together,” said NORA President John Huber. “This gives us a great opportunity to connect with people working in the industry and help them serve heating oil customers more effectively."

NORA Chairperson Allison Heaney, who is President of New York City-based Skaggs-Walsh, said the center will benefit the industry tremendously. “It is very exciting to have a research facility where Dr. Tom Butcher can continue with his great testing of Bioheat fuel and continue to assure that we are selling fuel of the highest quality,” she said. “I also think it is amazing the both Long Island and New York City now have this space where we can bring our technicians together and train them to deliver even better service for our customers. It’s a beautiful facility with boilers ready to fire that will allow students to work hands on with the equipment. I’m very excited to have it.”

Butcher also expressed great enthusiasm about the opportunities that the new facility creates. “I think this is hugely important,” he said. “Many groups can now come to this place and share their education and research. We will really help each other.”

NYOHA CEO Rocco Lacertosa said the new facility give the industry great credibility with young technicians. “It a professional environment that reflects very well on our industry. Training is very important for technicians and companies, and now we have a great place to get together and learn.”

OHCC CEO Kevin Rooney also sees tremendous benefits for heating oil companies and employees. “For the first time we have a research and development facility that is linked to a training facility. Technicians who come here not only will be able to work with the latest heating equipment in the field, they’ll also have the benefit of working with the preeminent technical expert in the field in Dr. Thomas Butcher.”

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