For the first time in 15 years, the intake pipe for the Lake Source Cooling project — a low energy system that channels deep water from Cayuga Lake to cool the University’s chilled water cooling network — will be cleaned.
Since the pipes were first put in place in July 2000, so many zebra and quagga mussels have covered the pipe’s surface that the amount of water flowing into the plant has significantly decreased, according to Lanny Joyce, utilities and energy management director.
To tackle the cleaning, Cornell hired engineering consulting firm Makai Ocean Engineering and diving contractor Global Diving and Salvage, Inc.
The Lake Source Cooling team plans to clean the pipe from Thursday to Oct. 19, pending the weather, by forcing a brush through the pipe and pushing any debris that has accumulated out into Cayuga Lake. This method pushes the mussels back into the lake and it causes no adverse environmental impacts, Joyce said.
“Future cleaning will be based on how fast the freshwater exotic mussels (zebra and quagga) grow in the intake pipe,” Joyce said.
Though the Lake Source Cooling system cools both Cornell and Ithaca High School, the University is paying the full cost of cleaning the intake pipe, which are accounted for as part of the normal operating costs.
Starting in 1989, Cornell experimented with low energy cooling methods by using water from Beebe Lake to cool the entire campus in the winter months. In 2000, the project expanded into the current Lake Source Cooling system, which expanded Cornell’s chilled water system to Cayuga Lake and uses the cold lake waters to cool a closed loop extension of campus water. It is an unprecedented way of using utilizing a natural, non-polluting and renewable resource to cool buildings, according to the project’s website.
Developing the project cost $58.5 million dollars, according to the website. However, Joyce said he believes the price was worth it.
“The system saves 85 percent of the electricity used by the conventional chillers that it replaces, with associated reductions in environmental impacts due to energy use,” Joyce said. “LSC alone reduced total campus electricity usage by 10 percent, enough for about 3000 homes each year or 25 million kiloWatt hour per year.”
LSC has eliminated the burning of over 19,000,000 pounds of coal annually in regional power plants and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by over 56,000,000 pounds per year, according to calculations by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
LSC also has created additional benefits for the Ithaca community, according to Joyce. Construction of the project resulted in the creation of East Shore Drive Town park and improvements to Ithaca’s utilities, roadways and sidewalks for over 1000 feet on Lake Street and University Avenue worth over $1 million. Additionally, the system provides free air conditioning for Ithaca High School.