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Memo

To: Consolidated Edison (Con Edison) From: Shekhar Pokhrel (Topic Supervisor), Fatmah Hassanin (Submission Manager), and Ayah Ali (Research Director) Subject: Cogeneration to Prevent Steam Pipe Accidents and Dangers Date: March 29, 2021

Purpose: The purpose of this memo is to address the potential dangers of steam pipes. To solve this issue, we will describe how heat recovery steam generation, more specifically, cogeneration generators will prevent such dangers while also providing many benefits.

Summary: The steam pipes in NYC undoubtedly provide many benefits, some being the heating and cooling of buildings, cooking, and sterilizing, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any cons or negative effects on either the surrounding places or the global (Brown, 2018). One serious event that should be taken to consideration is the steam pipe explosion that occurred in NYC in 2018 (Banton, 2021). This accident occurred because the pipes that were used to compress the steam were old and poorly maintained. Although this explosion did not cause major health issues, it left a huge crater in the middle of the street and resulted in other minor effects such as the potential risk of long-term exposure to asbestos (Gomez and Haag, 2018).

Discussion: New York State has been using the steam system from 1882 to the present day (Brown, 2018). The idea of this occurred in Lockport, NY by an engineer named Birdshill Holly. He had an idea of using a fireplace to heat the whole house (Banton, 2021). This was effective and it slowly began to catch the attention of investors and engineers. This plan eventually arrived in NYC where pipes were placed under Manhattan in no time. Steam can provide heat to buildings that are taller and this is also one of the reasons that NYC has skyscrapers today. In 1954, Con Edison acquired the steam system company and the main reason for us using this system is that it allows buildings to tap into it without needing a boiler which saves a lot of space and reduces the use of fuel and electricity (Brown, 2018).

However, this raised the concern of maintenance. They have so much maintenance to do that they would have to dig up the road and invest a lot of money towards it. Con Edison says that they don’t need to maintain the pipes because the pipes do not degrade over time due to the hot temperature of the steam system (Brown, 2021). But, the pipe explosion that occurred under their management definitely raises the question of the preparedness and reliability of Con Edison. 

Recommendation: The cogeneration generator seems to be the best solution in terms of feasibility, accessibility, cost, foolproof, and instability. The cogeneration generator is the production of electricity using waste heat, as in steam, from an industrial process or the use of steam from electric power generation as a source of heat. The way it should work is by capturing the steam in the pipes. Then, the turbine will be used to turn steam into mechanical energy. The electric generator will take this mechanical energy from the turbine and turn it into electrical energy that can be stored in batteries for later usage (Cogeneration Channel).

Work Cited:

Banton, Lawrence. “Why Steam Pours From New York City Streets.” Cheddar, Cheddar, 26 Jan. 2021, cheddar.com/media/why-steam-pours-from-new-york-city-streets. 

Brown, Nicole. “NYC Steam System: Why We Have It and How Con Ed Maintains It.” AmNewYork, 27 July 2018, www.amny.com/news/nyc-steam-system-1-20146953/. 

Gomez, Melissa, and Haag, Matthew. “Asbestos Confirmed in Steam Pipe That Exploded in Manhattan.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 July 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/07/19/nyregion/steam-explosion-pipe-flatiron-nyc.html. What Is Cogeneration? How Does It Work? Where Is It Suitable? What Are the Benefits?” Cogeneration Channel, www.cogenerationchannel.com/en/news-and-events/77/.

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