Power plant to blow steam rings to announce carbon footprint

I follow Kickstarter, and today they featured this “art” project in Copenhagen that plans to make the carbon footprint of a new powerplant visible city wide. Personally, I don’t see the point of it, but then again some of the best art is often based on what others would consider irrational thinking.

From the Kickstarter project page:

By 2017 the citizens of Copenhagen will not only be able to ski down the cleanest power plant in the world – their perceptions of what a power plant can be will be challenged by an art piece that raises awareness of our carbon emissions. The world’s first steam ring generator will puff out a steam ring for every ton of CO2 burned in the plant. Help us turn fiction into fact!


By sweeping nothing under the carpet, but rather projecting our carbon footprint onto the Copenhagen sky, we provide every single citizen intuitive information to help them inform the decisions they make for their lives and for the city that they want to live in.

Based on an original art proposal by the Berlin-based artists realities:united, we are designing the chimney to utilize the plant’s excess steam in collaboration with Peter Madsen’s Rumlaboratorium, as well as the Danish Technical University. In the future, if you come to Copenhagen, all you will have to do is look at the Copenhagen sky and count the rings. Each one will signify the emission of a single ton of CO2.

Diagram of the prototype which is one third of the real steam ring generator


Now if we can just get journalists to properly label steam coming out of power plants in those tiresome photoshpped choices of “smokestacks” for every “power plants are evil” story, we might get somewhere.

Mountaineer Power Plant - Image from Panaramio by Mcgiver1
Mountaineer Power Plant – Image from Panaramio by Mcgiver1
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August 20, 2015 4:05 pm

They should make it a CO2 ring. Then no-one could see it.

Reply to  Alex
August 20, 2015 4:14 pm

Now that is true art.
Ars est celare artem. (Ovid)

Reply to  Alex
August 20, 2015 4:37 pm

Neither, see, nor smell nor taste it. But all the plants will say thanks.

Louis Hunt
Reply to  Alex
August 21, 2015 1:39 pm

Isn’t it odd that they would release a much more powerful green-house gas to point out how much CO2 they’re releasing?

george e. smith
Reply to  Alex
August 21, 2015 1:59 pm

“””””….. Based on an original art proposal by the Berlin-based artists realities:united, we are designing the chimney to utilize the plant’s excess steam in collaboration with Peter Madsen’s Rumlaboratorium, as well as the Danish Technical University. …..”””””
So why do you allow your inefficient plant to continue to make excess steam ??

Bryan A
Reply to  Alex
August 21, 2015 2:46 pm

interesting concept. “All you would have to do is look at the Copenhagen sky and Count the Rings” to figure the Tons of Carbon emitted.
1) the rings don’t last too long so at any given moment there is likely to be no more than 4 of 5 rings but over the course of a day would it frighten them to count over 100 or 1000 rings
2) could rings be released at a rate of several per minute or Hour?
Might be scary to look up and see
Puff Puff Puff Puff Puff Puff

Reply to  Alex
August 21, 2015 8:59 pm

done in one

August 20, 2015 4:08 pm

Sounds like fun… 🙂

August 20, 2015 4:18 pm

Hmm, steam-rings as a proxy for CO2…sounds a bit like tree-rings, maybe in reverse. How much energy does the contraption use in producing these artworks? And where does the “normal” CO2 combustion product go during the art-show (meaning, if it isn’t going straight up the stack)?

August 20, 2015 4:19 pm

“Based on an original art proposal by the Berlin-based artists realities:united, we are designing the chimney to utilize the plant’s excess steam in collaboration with …
I doubt that any efficient plant generates “excessive steam” that they want to blow smoke rings.
Steam is expensive to generate as it requires burning of fuel and should only be used in a constructive manner to generate electricity or clean up the exhaust gas which as Anthony points out is mostly steam and CO 2.
In a conventional boiler the steam is generated with highly treated boiler feed water and recovered as condensate and recycled to the boiler tubes.
What type of plant is this that has excessive steam?

Keith Willshaw
Reply to  Catcracking
August 21, 2015 6:03 am

All of this is true but realistically the steam consumption of such a system will be minimal in comparison to the overall generation capacity. Rather like the steam whistle on an old fashioned locomotive . Coal fired plants make considerable of steam in sootblowers which keeps the boiler tubes nice and clean (and helps efficiency) as well as steam powered feed pumps etc so not all steam goes directly into making electricity.
Bleeding a little steam off the LP turbine stage periodically will reduce efficiency but I suspect it would be hard to measure.

Reply to  Keith Willshaw
August 21, 2015 6:35 am

Steam turbine powered pumps do not discharge the steam into the atmosphere. the condensate is collected and recycled into the steam generation system. the water in the boiler tubes has controlled chemistry to avoid corrosion and deposits and is valuable. The steam generated via the sootblowers is not going to be collected and discharged into the atmosphere with the soot. It will go to the scrubbers which likely inject water and therefore we see the plume from the scrubber stack which is formed by condensation of the steam.

Bryan A
Reply to  Keith Willshaw
August 21, 2015 2:51 pm

The same thing happens with aircraft at altitude. The waste heat from the engines exhaust hits the cold air above 35000′ and the cold instantly condenses the water in the exhaust creating the Con(densation) Trail

August 20, 2015 4:21 pm

“The world’s first steam ring generator will puff out a steam ring for every ton of CO2 burned in the plant.”
They’re burning CO2 in this plant? I guess CO2 sequestration is out of fashion now.

Reply to  PaulH
August 20, 2015 4:32 pm

“The world’s first steam ring generator will puff out a steam ring for every ton of CO2 burned in the plant.”
I tried to burn CO2 but the match kept going out.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Salong, Lombok
Reply to  bobburban
August 20, 2015 4:53 pm

Good point. On the other hand isn’t this a ‘modern’ plant? Maybe it includes more breakthroughs than the ability to make steam rings. Burning CO2, a remarkable feat, would put this plant in a class of its own. I would want to announce that to the world too, perhaps in a less phallic manner.

Reply to  bobburban
August 20, 2015 11:06 pm

+1 That was because when you roll the window down on your water-fuelled car, the wind increases.

Bryan A
Reply to  bobburban
August 21, 2015 2:54 pm

Does burning CO2 give you C2O4?

Alan the Brit
Reply to  PaulH
August 21, 2015 4:03 am

That was going to be my point! Well done anyway!

August 20, 2015 4:31 pm

Isn’t water vapour a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2?
Just asking for a friend.

Reply to  Frank Lee MeiDere
August 20, 2015 6:12 pm

Not stronger, but there’s so much more of it that water vapor is the overwhelmingly dominant GHG.

Reply to  Slywolfe
August 21, 2015 7:23 am

It stays a GHG until it condenses into clouds, whereupon it has an anti-greenhouse effect.

Samuel C. Cogar
Reply to  Frank Lee MeiDere
August 21, 2015 5:50 am

Yup, ….. bout 2.3 times stronger.

August 20, 2015 4:41 pm

“The world’s first steam ring generator will puff out a steam ring for every ton of CO2 burned in the plant…”
When I studied combustion in college the physics and chemistry taught that carbon is burned in the presence of Oxygen and the product is CO 2 which will not burn.
Is this the new science of the EPA administrator where she is funding a project to burn CO 2? Nothing would surprise me with the lack of technical knowledge from the EPA administrator.
Listen here to the EPA administrator admit before Congress, under oath, that it is not important that the President’s CO2 reduction program will only impact global warming 0.01 degree C (theoretically). She gives some abstract benefits of the program.
Watch this video to note the EPA Administrator’s lack of factual information on droughts, number of Hurricanes, etc. She claims there have been more Hurricanes while the Senator points out the lack of Atlantic landfalls for circa 9 years. Also she knows nothing about the fact that the computer model predictions used by her Administration have been grossly over predicting global warming in the midst of an 18+ year period of no warming.
It is scary that someone lacking so much technical knowledge is gaining control of our energy

Reply to  Catcracking
August 21, 2015 12:52 am

McCarthy really is on the ball. She ducks and dives and is full of BS. She can’t answer even simple questions.

Paul Westhaver
August 20, 2015 4:48 pm

Where are the mirrors? What BS.

August 20, 2015 4:48 pm

What else could one expect of a city ramped up on graffiti “art”:
Denmark’s ancient capital of Copenhagen boasts one of Europe’s most attractive city centers, but it has increasingly become an eyesore as graffiti artists deface the quaint old buildings.
The graceful 17th-Century Caritas fountain, where golden apples bounce to celebrate Queen Margrethe’s birthday, now bears the legends “Kill the cops” and “Exterminate retirees.”
The Classical-style university, founded in 1479 by King Christian I, proclaims on its walls the code names of young artists “Zoom” and “Flop.”
“Graffiti is an immense problem in Copenhagen. It can hardly get worse,” Mayor Egon Weidekamp said. Municipal workmen now spend about three hours every day cleaning public buildings, concentrating only an abusive and racist slogans to keep the cost down.
“We cannot afford to clean everything off–we would just have to clean new graffiti away the next day,” said Mogens Olsen, Copenhagen’s director of technical services.
Another official said, “Private property owners have largely given up erasing graffiti because of the cost, so it begins to look as if city architecture has adapted.”
Copenhagen’s suburban railway is also badly hit. “We have a particularly active graffiti culture and the most befouled trains in Europe, scaring our passengers away. We consider it as vandalism, and treat it as such,” a railway spokesman said.
“Last year we lost 3% of our passengers, or about 3 million journeys, and cleaning bills totaled about 30 million crowns ($4.7 million),” he added.

Ian H
Reply to  BFL
August 21, 2015 6:21 pm

The people who call themselves “street artists”, the ones who encourage graffiti and hand out paint cans to kids and say it is all about young people “expressing themselves” – the ones who think it is “art” – they are the ones that I hate with a passion. These people are inciting crime and I’d like to see them prosecuted for it. Graffiti is about as artful as a dog pissing on a lamppost. But what the dog does isn’t very visible and easily washes off. Graffiti is more permanent and a lot more disgusting.

Reply to  Richard Keen
August 21, 2015 1:57 am

Battersea power station hasn’t bunt anything since the early 80’s, I think it still is a bare shell of a building.

Reply to  Patrick
August 21, 2015 7:21 am

Actually they are rebuilding the chimneys, as we speak, ihttps://www.batterseapowerstation.co.uk/#!/

Richard Keen
Reply to  Patrick
August 21, 2015 1:57 pm

So it’s non functional? Then it is pure art.

Reply to  Richard Keen
August 21, 2015 12:16 pm

What did the pig do next?

Richard Keen
Reply to  Auto
August 21, 2015 1:55 pm

Well, the pig broke free and, approaching Heathrow, shut down the airport.
The Wikipedia story https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_Floyd_pigs has more interesting tidbits, including that the pig was filled with helium, not hydrogen. Could you imagine a H2 filled pig flying into a stray spark from a chimney?
Oh, the pigmanity.
Could have inspired yet another rock album cover.

August 20, 2015 5:30 pm

One of the articles about this said that they’re expecting to make a few rings a day.
The plant is expecting to burn 400,000 tons of waste a year. IPCC says that burning one ton of municipal waste emits about one ton of CO2. That’s almost 1,100 tons a day, which is almost 300 tons of carbon per day. That’s more than 12 tons of carbon each hour, so their ring generator will have to fire in less than five minutes. Yeah, they’d better have a “waste steam” source, as it would take a lot of power to generate that much steam.

Samuel C. Cogar
Reply to  AnonyMoose
August 21, 2015 6:32 am

Actually it would take very little “steam” to create a great number of “rings”.
This can easily be demonstrated via a pack of cigarettes and one (1) “puff” of cigarette smoke.
Just slide the cellophane cover about 90% of the way off of the pack of cigarettes so that it forms a “closed” compartment. Then light a cigarette and hold the cigarette pack with a flat side up, …. and burn a “round” hole in the center of the cellophane. Then blow one (1) puff of smoke into the “hole” to fill the container full of smoke.
Then all you do is lightly “tap” the bottom of the cellophane …. and you will get a smoke “ring” every time. Dozens of “rings” outta one (1) puff of smoke. Like so, to wit:
One of the most enduring images of Times Square (in New York) is the Camel Man. The Camel Man blew smoke rings around the clock for decades from a billboard mounted on the Claridge Hotel on Broadway between 43rd and 44th Streets.

Greg Woods
August 20, 2015 5:40 pm

By 2017 I thought the Danes would be running on wind and sun…certainly no CO2 producing power plants.

Reply to  Greg Woods
August 21, 2015 12:54 am

Absolutely wind and sunshine generation in Northern Europe. Top spot well thought out! (sarc)

Get Real
Reply to  Greg Woods
August 23, 2015 3:05 pm

So did I. At least that is what the media in Oz tell us anyway!

Keith Minto
August 20, 2015 5:45 pm

You need still air to make this work. Is this an admission that seeing the steam rings means that the wind turbines are inoperative ? Will it be lit at night ?
If it causes people to think, it will be worth it.
I will not hold my breath.

August 20, 2015 5:49 pm

Just look at all that seeohtoo.

Sweet Old Bob
August 20, 2015 6:09 pm

Water vapor rings….steam is not visable,,,,,(8>))

Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
August 20, 2015 6:19 pm

Actually, it’s water (condensed water vapor). (Un-condensed) water vapor is invisible too.

August 20, 2015 6:15 pm

I don’t believe this is the “World’s First Steam Generator.”

Reply to  Slywolfe
August 21, 2015 12:57 am

New Zealand does steam generation. Started the same year I was born (’58) and generates 850MW.

August 20, 2015 6:45 pm

Question: Every Time a stream-ring is generated, is there going to be a loud bang accompanying it like in the demo?

August 20, 2015 7:43 pm

It’s a smugness generator. The point is to generate smugness in the population about how they are oh, so much better than the other people.

August 20, 2015 7:46 pm

Remember how cool it was to put the pill in the smokestack of the Lionel locomotives and smoke up Mom’s house with it? I just think their idea is an adult version of Thomas the Tank Engine.

August 20, 2015 7:47 pm

I am a Sr. Chemist for a “large electrical power generating utility”. I am staffed at one of the most efficient (by heat rate) Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HRSG) in the world. My career started in a very cleanly maintained, reliable, and highly economical “flammable dirt” burning power plant.
The United States fossil fuel fired electrical utilities don’t waste steam, or heat, or fuel, or the chemistry we use to preserve the metal in our boilers. We do all we can to make them among the safest and most reliable on this planet to supply steady 60Hz power to the end user to pursue their endeavors without concern that their livelihood is endangered by a lack of electricity.
HRSG’s can be operated as base load units while natural gas is cheap. (And it will be until the Greens have killed coal.) Any power plant will last far longer operated at steady state within the engineered bounds, but HRSG’s aren’t a replacement for “flammable dirt” as the most economical, long term investment, cheaply fueled, and reliable source of electricity on earth. HRSG’s can be built to follow wind and solar up and down, but this shortens the life of the investment ($500 mil to $1 bill US today) in half when they are cycled at the maximum ramp rates due to “corrosion fatigue” (like bending a paperclip back and forth) even with the best state of knowledge engineering to accommodate the cycles. When the wind is erratic and clouds patchy, just what do you think is happening to the power plant that is ramping outside the engineered bounds? The thermal stresses are causing all the micro fractures that lead to failures. I, as a chemist, can help somewhat through water chemistry, but that is only a forestalling of the inevitable.
If they want us to operate our units to accommodate the flavor of the day power source of their choice, they can have my job and run it like they see fit. I just ask that they put their office near a burner box, or maybe near the feed water header. It’ll keep ’em warm in the winter…
The artists concept is enlightenment produced by whatever various drug of choice he or she was smoking.
(My comments do not necessarily represent the opinion of my employer and are completely my own based upon my own life experiences. – Just in case the initials are recognized.)

Reply to  PRD
August 21, 2015 6:21 am

Well said. Although I do not work in the power industry, my experience with design of equipment operating at elevated temperatures in the creep zone of even more exotic alloys allows me to relate to the concern of cycling such equipment and the impact on the life. In most cases it is not possible to design the equipment for daily cycles without significantly shortening the life. In one case we found that excessive adjustment of burners (natural gas) caused metal creep/fatigue failures in hydrogen production furnaces.
I should mention that it is not just the metallic components that are affected but also the life of the refractories that are used to protect the metals from elevated temperatures is also impacted.

Andrew N
August 20, 2015 11:14 pm

Why don’t they make it blow a ring for every old person who dies of energy poverty in winter.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Andrew N
August 21, 2015 5:37 am

Or, every time a “steam ring” blows, a government-funded climate sci-fi quack receives his grant.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
August 21, 2015 6:19 am

That was actually Frank Capra’s original ending to It’s A Wonderful Life.
True story.

Jeff Mitchell
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
August 23, 2015 8:55 pm

Not quite. The angel in “Its a Wonderful Life” is already dead, but does not yet have his wings. He is given the assignment to help out George Bailey, and if successful, gets his wings. The saying was “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”

Jacques Corbin
August 21, 2015 12:26 am

” … The world’s first steam ring generator will puff out a steam ring for every ton of CO2 burned in the plant …”
Who has ever “burned” CO2 ?

August 21, 2015 1:50 am

How about a project to fit wind turbines with sirens that shriek abominably for 30 seconds every time one of them slices a bird or a bat?

Reply to  bertief
August 21, 2015 2:17 am

Maybe if sirens are mounted on the tips of the blades it would keep the birds away. (Sleep tight!)

Phillip Bratby
August 21, 2015 2:17 am

I shall definitely burn more wood this winter. My carbon footprint is not high enough.

August 21, 2015 4:39 am

Steam is invisible.

Bruce Cobb
August 21, 2015 5:08 am

For the life of me, I can not fathom what the message is supposed to be with these “steam rings”. They appear to be saying; “even this ultra “green” power plant belches nasty, planet-destroying “carbon” into the air. Thus, unless you live in a mud hut eating leaves and twigs, and shiver in the dark, you are guilty of destroying the planet.”

Walt D.
August 21, 2015 6:35 am

The should stick a generator that blows smoke rings on Capitol Hill or Parliament Hill so that the people can see when the politicians are blowing smoke.

August 21, 2015 7:23 am

Cloud rings are not made of steam, steam is invisible.

August 21, 2015 7:27 am

Why does this remind me of reading A Wrinkle in Time in elementary school?

Reply to  dbstealey
August 21, 2015 12:04 pm

It also happens industrially. We have had two recently, in UK factory fires.

Richard Keen
August 21, 2015 11:19 am

How about a giant whoopee cushion to bleat forth the production of each and every ton of that other anthropofarted greenhouse gas, methane? Gotta get the message to our youth, especially those middle schoolers.

August 21, 2015 2:06 pm

If one is going to go to the trouble of making a giant smoke ring generator – why not send up SO2 rings that could offset the CO2 produced by the power plant — It was once suggested (Kaufman et al.1991 ) that a molecule of SO2 is 50x to 1000x more ‘cooling’ than a molecule of CO2 warms 🙂

August 21, 2015 2:11 pm

I’m not clever enough, but I’ll bet there will be a drinking game coming soon 🙂

August 21, 2015 4:44 pm

We can only hope someone gives the Planned Parenthood treatment to these climate “scientists.”
BTW, dolphins blow air bubbles similar to smoke rings.

Hangtown Bob
August 22, 2015 10:29 am

The world’s first steam ring generator will puff out a steam ring for every ton of CO2 burned in the plant.
How do you “burn” CO2?? Oxidise it to CO3 or CO4 ????

David Harrington
August 22, 2015 12:53 pm

Isn’t steam a greenhose gas anyway?

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