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The Story of Steam

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Rarely ever do I think about vapor as water. When I see the wet steam I'm more inclined to think of Half Life. But, have you often wondered where the mist you see escaping from city streets comes from? Rocketboom's Ella Morton visits the New York City steam plant to investigate this boiling hot mystery. Thank you Molly. Steam on the streets is a common site in New York. But, where does it come from? This plant is one of the sources of those notoriously steamy manholes. Let's take a quick look at how it all works. The 14th st. plant produces both steam and electricity. In a process called cogeneration. The action starts by burning natural gas which spins a turbine to create electricity. The 1000 degree Fahrenheit heat byproduct of that process goes into a heat recovery steam generator. That boils water to create steam for the city. Interestingly enough the 14th st. plant has its own special water treatment facility. Because regular tap water contains minerals that build up in the steam pipes. Once steam leaves the plant it travels through up to 105 miles of underground pipes. Which get progressively smaller as they reach their destination. Which, in New York City includes some of the largest and most famous buildings in the world. So, now we return to the question: Why the steamy manholes? Is the steam escaping? And, if so, is the city in peril? I asked Dennis Holmes operations manager at the 14th st. plant. Clear something up. Is it a bad sign to see steam coming out of a manhole in New York? It's not horrible, let's put it that way. That steam may not be our product, necessarily. If there is a water leak in the area and if that water hits our pipe it's going to get hot and then it's going to flash off a little bit and that will be some of the vapor you see. However, if it looks like it's coming out with a little more force anytime anybody sees any steam we encourage them to call us. And so ends the journey of steam. From plant to pipes to the potentially perilous pouring out of New York City manholes. I'm Ella Morton and you've been getting steamy with Rocketboom.

Video Details

Duration: 2 minutes and 10 seconds
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Views: 373
Posted by: rocketboom on Jul 30, 2009

Rocketboom NYC Correspondent Ella Morton visits the ConEd Steam Plant to find out more about the New York City Steam System.

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