‘Utility’ Tag

Mechanical Boiler

Photo Credit: Jack Clay

Seen here is a steam boiler used for heating Bursley Residence Hall at the University of Michigan. There are 3 of these used for heating Bursley, each capable of producing 9,000,000 BTUs. In the dead of winter 2 of the three are being used at once, while the third is used as a backup in case of failure. These were placed in Bursley during its construction, in 1965.

Electrical Substation

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

What you are looking at is a sub-station on the electrical power grid. Electricity is produced at large power plants, with a very high voltage. This high voltage is advantageous because it leads to lower losses acquired in the transmission process of the power. However, this large voltage, that is good for transportation, would destroy most devices that run on electricity. As a result, the electrical grid has sub-stations, like this one, to reduce the high voltage to more manageable magnitudes.

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.

Urban Cell Phone Antenna

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

So this may appear to be just another building, and it is. What’s unique about this picture, however, is the group of white vertical bars near the top of the building. Those vertical bars are actually antennas used for cell phones. Most people don’t notice them, but if you start to look around these antennas are on a surprising amount of buildings in urban environments.