Smoke Stack Plumes

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Seen here is the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) power plant. It is a natural gas fueled power plant that also provides process heating to the buildings of the Central campus for heating in the winter and absorption cooling in the summer. Many people are alarmed upon first seeing the large plumes of smoke coming from the smokestacks. However, these plumes of “smoke” are actually mostly water vapor and disappear quickly as the hot water vapor is absorbed into the cold winter air. In summer months the plumes are not visible as the water vapor is instantly absorbed into the air.