by Raziel Siegman (’17)

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Last Friday morning, students from Dr. Berliners’s AP Physics class had the unique opportunity to take a tour of the ConEd East River steam plant on 14th street. The ConEd plant, which is powered by gas, is part of the largest commercial steam system in the world – producing about 24 billion pounds of steam a year -and services nearly two thousand clients in Manhattan, including the World Trade Center. The East River site is by far the largest plant, making over half of the total steam produced by ConEd. Upon entering, the students heard a presentation describing the history of the plant, which has been in existence for over a century. They then heard a detailed explanation of how the plant functions. There are currently four functional steam generators, all powered by gas. The steam is produced from water that has undergone an intense filtration system, ensuring that the machinery does not wear down over time due to impurities in the water. The highly pressurized steam is then sent sent to much of lower Manhattan, and is used for a variety of purposes including heating, cooling, food processing, cleaning, and much more. Additionally, a relatively small amount of electricity is produced at the plant, part of which powers the plant itself.

After the presentation, the students then took a tour of the actual facilities. They were fascinated by the sheer size of the boilers, which are many stories tall, as well as by all of the other machinery that is necessary to run this tremendous operation. It was fascinating to have a behind-the-scenes look at one of the many aspects of NYC that most people are often unaware of. Thank you to Dr. Berliner for organizing this informative trip and accompanying the students.

 

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