Summer starts Monday, and if they haven't already, New Yorkers are taking out their air conditioners. The same is true at the World Trade Center site, only their's is powerful enough to beat the heat in 700 homes. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
One of the world's largest air conditioners is being delicately installed at the World Trade Center site. Part will be turned on before next year's 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the rest by 2013.
Visitors to the museum and other public spaces under the memorial plaza will be served by the 15-piece unit which will soon be completely out of sight.
But the path to summertime relief actually starts a few blocks west, where the Hudson River is sucked into a pump house and filtered of any wildlife. Water then crosses the West Side Highway in pipes five-foot in diameter, four stories below the street.
"We are literally at the ground floor of below grade, and what you're seeing here is the 42-inch river water pipe coming off the big 66-inch pipe, it comes down into this large piping system, which is below where the huge five chillers are gonna be. Each one of those chillers will have two large pipes bringing the river water into the system," said Port Authority Executive Director Christopher Ward.
When all is said and done, 30,000 gallons of river water will rush through the pipes every minute. That's enough to fill 15 bathtubs a second or one Olympic sized swimming pool every 20 minutes.
The river system saves space and energy. A conventional system would require tap water which would then be cooled in a tower, emitting plumes of hot, humid air.
However, the new project isn't entirely environmentally neutral. The water used is actually returned hotter than when first captured -- at most 91 degrees -- or 17 degrees more than when it entered.
Still, the group Riverkeeper has given the project a green light, saying it extracted concessions.
In any case, improved technology and reduced demand has left the whole system slated to use but a quarter of the water flow than the system it's replacing. The old model, which served the whole World Trade Center site, clocked in at 59,000 tons, the new one a mere 12,500 tons.