Energy in the Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry in 1987, was both a devotion to the arts and a piece of artwork in itself. The iconic hall glorified as an architectural masterpiece that properly represents the whimsical character that is associated with Walt Disney himself. The sails of stainless steel seem to move with a grace that can only be defined by the music playing within it; however, the building process was much more complicated. Furthermore, the stainless steel that makes up the concert hall went through extensive crucial processes before, during, and after the construction that made the masterpiece possible. Throughout these processes of making the material, constructing the material, and perfecting the material, we see energy in many forms including electric, thermal, chemical, kinetic, etc.
Iron Ore Mining
Before the building of the magnificent stainless steel sails could be constructed, the sheets first went through an intense process of mining and grinding iron ores, to heating raw mixtures, and rolling molten metal in order to bring out the smooth, light weight, shiny finish that is recognizable in stainless steel.
The iron ore mining process begins by diamond drilling a sample core hundreds of feet into the earth’s crust from ground level in order to identify the taconite rock that holds about 28 percent of iron. Kinetic energy comes from the friction between the earth’s crust and the diamonds on the rim of the drill; thus, creating a thermal energy that allows the drill to drive into the crust. The kinetic energy provided by the injection of water into the drill pipe allows the core to extract without ejecting the pipe from the ground. When mining engineers have mapped out where the taconite rock lies, the mining area is stripped from the ground floor down using hydraulic shovels to dump the overlying amounts of rock, clay, and gravel. The hydraulic shovels are powered by a motor of gears that move by the kinetic energy of pressure and flow from hydraulic matter, as well as the chemical process of fossil fuels that make the amount of pressure and hydraulic matter flow possible. A chemical process is undertaken to blast holes in the ground once the taconite rock is exposed to the surface. The mining process is then continued with the chemical and kinetic energy of man and hydraulic machinery so it can be taken to a grinding concentration mill that will kinetically grind and crush the ore. By utilizing chemical energy, fossil fuels power the grinder to grind more than 6,000 tons of taconite per hour. The iron travels on a belt powered by electricity to be grinded from the size of approximately five feet down to six inches or less. Once the taconite has gone through the grinding process, the belt drops the material into an ore storage building that holds up to 220,000 tons of taconite. It then continues a cycle of grinding, separating, and concentrating on an electrically powered conveyer belt until it reaches the primary grinding mill. There, water will be added as a means of kinetic transportation. Once the ore is magnetically separated from the non-iron material, typically clay, silica, and sand, and further ground into powder it is then ready for melting and casting (From Ore to Steel, 2012).
Electric and thermal energy is used to melt the mixture of iron ore, chromium, and nickel through an electric breakdown of gases in an electric arc furnace, which goes up to 1,800°C. The molten metal is then chemically refined by adding oxygen, argon, and nitrogen in an Argon-Oxygen Decarburiser (AOD) vessel in order to reduce the content of carbon. Once refined of carbon, the molten metal is poured into a continuous casting machine that steadily hardens the metal while still feeding off thermal energy so the metal is still in a state where it can be grinded down to remove any imperfections in the surface. The grinding chemically powered, fossil fueled process consists of a cylinder that scrapes the surface slabs so it is ready to sale as steel. Before the Walt Disney Concert Hall was able to incorporate the stainless steel exterior, this form of steel was used to create the supporting framework (National Steel Pellet Company, 2014).
The flat sheets of steel for the exterior are found in the hot rolling process when thermal energy is used to put the slabs through a reheat furnace. A series of gears and mills that are chemically powered by fossil fuels then coil the sheets to later be cut into plates. To finish off, a chemical process occurs when the sheets are annealed and pickled with acids to produce the smooth, polished, shiny finish that is desirable in stainless steel (Columbus Stainless).
The transition from architect Frank Gehry’s sketches to the great structure we see today could not have been done without the use of the CATIA program. The Computer-Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application technology, which was new during the designing process, became essential to the Walt Disney Concert Hall construction process, providing a 4D model that tells the exact mechanics necessary to properly hold up a building of such design. Architect Frank Gehry was able to translate his design into the program by creating a 3D model with his hands out of clay, plastic, and other materials and guiding a CATIA laser pen along the surface of the physical model. The electrical energy program was then able to provide maps that measure out the necessary mechanics and dimensions for the complex structure, an exact schedule for the construction crew to follow, exact quality of materials, and estimated costs (Balian and Ferris, 2014). From there, lasers were used to guide the placement of oddly placed girders and columns supporting the structure (Symphony in Steel, 2004).
The structure of a totaling 10,000 tons of steel began construction by using chemically powered, fossil fueled and electrically controlled machinery in order to maneuver the heavy material. The increased power efficiency in the lever/ pulley system was used to start the heavy steel construction process by incorporating an American 8470 Truck Crane and a Manitowoc M250 Crawler Crane. Trucks, trailers, and forklifts carrying up to 50 tons were used to transport the mass amounts of material. When the construction for the framework started getting into smaller details, the use of a small hydro crane was incorporated to decrease to the need for such a large radius of space that the other cranes required. This decreased the challenge found in placing the crane in a secure area. The hydraulic system in a hydro crane applies kinetic pressure to fluids, such as oil. Chemical energy powers the movement of a piston into the fluid filled pump and causes the pressure. This two-gear pump system makes it easy to lift large volumes of steel without the placement challenge of the other heavy lifting cranes. To attach the metal together, the steel beams were welded and bolted together (Hassett, 2002).
Although, technology played a big part in the planning process, constructing the complex curves within the steel structure was heavily dependent on the chemical energy of man. Steelworkers were hired to carefully walk and balance over one hundred feet amongst the skeletal frame of steel beams to bolt and weld the framework. Each movement was carefully choreographed and timed before the steelworker would be coaxed during the construction time. This process required over 12,000 pieces of steel, all differing in shape, size, and weight, to be placed from the dangerous heights of the structure (Symphony in Steel, 2004).
Even once the building was completed, modifications to the concert hall still had to be made due to the glare that stainless steel gives off. Because the rays of sunlight magnified by the stainless steel would cause areas to reach as high as 138 degrees, a team of three workers began scuffing the panels. It takes great man power to alter about 6,000 square feet of stainless steel, even though it is only 2 percent of the buildings surface. Usually when dealing with reflective material, the material is modified while detached to the building. However, because removing the panels from the building was not an option; each panel required a twenty minute process to dim the shine. To cover a total of 833 panels, the team of three incorporates one attached to a harness and hanging from a boom, with the assistance of a pulley as a means of increasing energy efficiency, while the other two bend over or use ladders. The dimming process begins with electrical industrial sanders equipped with rectangular 220-grit sandpaper. The friction between the stainless steel panel and the sandpaper creates a thermal energy that dulls the reflection of the panel. After, an electrically powered orbital sander sands the panel in a circle motion to blend the transition from panel to panel (Coats, 2005). The Walt Disney Concert Hall modifications may not be exactly what Frank Gehry envisioned, the architectural structure is still considered a great masterpiece.
It sounds invalid to say that a masterpiece came from the ground; but in actuality, the process from mining to steel fabrication to construction shows that it did. When starting from the time of Frank Gehry’s design, the making the Walt Disney Concert Hall took about 16 years. However, when looking at the process of producing the material that eventually went into the making of the structure, it is evident that the creation of the concert hall took an even more extended amount of time with incredible amounts of energy. Before construction workers can build from the ground up, miners much drill down into the ground to obtain the iron ore that is eventually heated and grinded with thermal, chemical, and kinetic energy to make steel. Due to a chemical reaction, the steel is able to gain the finished polished look that the concert hall notably known for. Through the power of electronics, mechanics, and man, Frank Gehry was then able to construct his masterpiece.
Balian, David and Ferris, Kristina. “Curves of Steel: CATIA and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.” Illumin. Illumin. 2014. Web. Jan 2014.
Coats, Chris. “Dimming Disney Hall: Gehry’s Glare Gets Buffed.” Los Angeles Downtown News. Civic Center News, Inc., 21 March 2005. Web. 11 Feb 2014.
“From Ore to Steel.” Arcelor Mittal. Arcelor Mittal. 2012. Web. Jan 2014.
Hassett, Patrick M. “Steel Erection for the Walt Disney Concert Hall.” Modern Steel Construction. American Institute of Steel Construction, April 2002. Web. Jan 2014.
“Iron Ore Processing for the Blast Furnace.” National Steel Pellet Company. National Steel Pellet Company, 2014. Web. Jan 2014.
“Museo Guggenheim, Bilbao.” ZexonaZ. Plantilla Watermark, 20 May 2010. Web. Jan 2014.
“Simplified Process for Making Stainless Steel.” Columbus Stainless [Pty] Ltd. Columbus Stainless [Pty] Ltd, n. d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
“Stainless Steel.” How Products are Made. Advameg, Inc., 2014. Web. Jan 2014.
“Symphony in Steel: Ironworkers and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.” National Building Museum. National Building Museum. 28 Nov 2004. Web. Jan 2014.
Professor Christina Cogdell
Waste and Emissions of Walt Disney Concert Hall, CA
One of the most famous buildings in the heart of Los Angeles is the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Well known for its shiny modern exterior, the building is an architectural piece of art as well as a functional concert hall, home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The curving walls of the building, also referred to as “sails,” are made of stainless steel, a modern material for architecture that's not only beautiful but also 100% recyclable. Although reusable, the process that the walls had to go through has its own wastes and emissions worth noting from its early stages of mined iron ore up to the welding of the sails.
Although the concert hall has a custom-built organ, complex interior design that caters to high definition acoustics, and a large fountain created from recycled porcelain, the most iconic feature of the building is the deconstructivism exterior design emphasized by the stainless steel walls. Frank Gehry, the architect who designed the concert hall, originally had wanted to use stone, but due to the lower cost of using steel, they ended up opting for the steel walls, which ended up being a fortunate shortcoming for the fate of the building's fame. The major elements that make up stainless steel are iron, carbon, nickel, and chromium, chromium being the prime element that gives the “stainless” property. The stainless steel that makes up the walls of the famous Disney Concert Hall was commissioned from Beck Steel Inc., and is most likely stainless steel grade 304 or 316, which are also the most commonly used grades. No documentation could be found on what exact steel type Gehry had chosen, but through research on types of steels and their properties and uses, we can make an educated guess that he most likely chose type 304 or 316 due to their common usage in construction and architecture. Steels used in the 300 series of SAE steel grades are known as austenitic stainless steels, which are nonmagnetic and are the most reliable types of steel. SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) steel grades determine what type of steel alloy is used. According to SAE, type 304's defining alloy characteristic is about 18% chromium and 8% nickel, while 316 contains these elements as well as the element molybdenum, which allows for better resistance against certain types of corrosion. Type 316 is normally used in areas with high salt concentration in the air, or when an architect may want extra protection against the possibility of an acid rain. Although stainless steel is recyclable, the major components of the alloy (chromium, nickel, and iron) are not unless processed and refined. The purpose of this essay is to see where the recyclable stainless steel might not be quite as sustainable as the phrase “100% recyclable” may mislead through analyzing the emissions and wastes of the entire process of the creation of the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Because Beck Steel is not a corporation that is transparent with their resources and processes, this paper will be going through the general or most common life cycle of stainless steel up until construction of the hall. Iron ore is a primary ingredient in creating steel, but it does not occur in pure form in nature. Instead, iron-ore forming materials, mostly some kind of composition of iron and oxygen, such as magnetite, hematite, goethite, and limonite, are mined then later, iron ore is extracted. In the United States, iron ore can be found in almost every state, and even country, but in order to be commercially economical, the ore should allow for a large deposit to be recovered as well as a large range for mining. Therefore, magnetite and hematite which produce the most iron are mined in the Lake Superior district, which has the largest sites for mining. Iron extraction and benefication are two of the major steps in mining iron. Benefication is the process of purifying or cleaning the iron ore through blast furnaces usually having agglomeration as the final step. During agglomeration, the iron ore is pelletized or briquetted, then shipped to blast furnaces to make steel alloys. Two types of mining are surface mining and underground mining, with surface mining being more prominent as it is more cost efficient. Energy sources for iron mining are mainly fossil fuels (diesel fuel) and electricity, and its main outputs, both useful and wasteful, are iron pellets, waste rods, overburden, acid mine water, engine fumes, dust and fines, carbon dioxide, sulfur compounds, chlorides, fluorides, nitrogen dioxide, and tailings. In a survey of mining and quarrying trends in the U.S from 1994 to 2000 done by the U.S. Department of the Interior, of all materials handled in the mining and benefication processes, which include both products and waste, about 55% is crude iron ore produced and 45% is waste.In 1997, a year after the hall began construction and about the same time the stainless steel walls were commissioned, 910.7 thousand bbl. of fuel oil and 6,200 million kWh of electricity purchased was consumed during only the iron ore preparation, which only includes mining and benefication and does not include smelting, stainless steel fabrication, or welding. (Fig. 1) All of the equipment is run by diesel fuel specifically, and according to EIA, burning a gallon of diesel fuel results in emission of about 20 pounds of CO2. One bbl/d (barrel of oil per day) flow rate is equal to about 10.51 lbs of gasoline per hour in flow rate and one barrel is about 42 gal. Assuming that lbs/hr of gasoline flow rate is equal to lbs/hr of CO2, from a simple conversion calculation, we can conclude that in total, iron ore extraction emitted about 765 hundred million lbs of CO2 during the year 1997 from diesel fuel alone. Most pelletizing plants are fueled by natural gas, but some may opt for coal or fuel oil. Natural gas still produces nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide, which are known to be harmful greenhouse gases, but also produces about half as much CO2 and even a quarter as much nitrogen oxides as coal. Natural gas produces even less of the same emissions compared to fuel oil. 34.3 billion cubic feet of fuel oil was consumed in 1997 for iron extraction, but the numbers for coal consumed was withheld perhaps because there was no accurate way to calculate it or because the number is too high to admit or both.
At the very start of extraction, holes are drilled in rock, which are then filled with explosives for removing waste rock and ore. Dangerous byproducts of this process include fuel, lubricants, and hydraulic oils from the rigs which are used for drilling. As a consequence of these liquids, byproducts produced include toluene, sulfuric acid, lead, arsenic, and petroleum hydrocarbons. During the mining process, surface mining obviously effects the environment through drilling and digging, but it also changes the geography so much that it also effects the volume and rate of surface water run-off containing wastes such as waste rock and byproducts from the mining site. Underground mining in comparison has less of an impact on the plants or soil, but may produce large quantities of acid or alkaline drainage. Long after the mining process, iron ore concentrates may go through the agglomeration or pelletizing processes to improve blast furnace operations later. During these operations, a moist pellet waste is produced through the pelletization process and the agglomeration process overall generates emissions such as CO2, sulfur compounds, chlorides, fluorides, and large volumes of both SO2 and NO2. After the agglomeration process, the iron is then ready to be shipped to stainless steel fabricators for smelting. The US has its own iron ore mines in the Midwest, but had imports from Canada (55%), Brazil (20%), Venezuela (2%), Australia (2%), and other countries (3%) according to an iron ore data report by USGS from 1991 to 1994. Transportation of iron ore from these countries was done by boat, train, and truck, which run on mainly diesel fuel.
Recycling Steel Scrap and Slag
Stainless and specialty alloy steel producers are the only ones who purchase stainless steel scrap because steel scrap and virgin materials are the only materials used in smelting and refining steel, which reveals a lot about the prominence of steel recycling in the steel industry. At least recycling releases demand on mining activities for the steel industry, which reduces one source of greenhouse gas emissions as well as occurrences of toxic emissions exposed to miners. The greatest issue directly correlated to the steel industry, though, is actually in the emissions from the smelting process. A common process used during the time of construction for the hall was the use of argon oxygen decarburization. According to Kusik from his book Energy Use Patterns for Metal Recycling, “the major process for making stainless steel is a duplex method which involves melting and initial refining in an electric arc furnace, followed by refining in an AOD (argon-oxygen decarburization) vessel.” Although electric arc furnaces are able to melt 100% scrap, virgin material is still added in order to distill impurities from the scrap. The AOD process, though, allows steel industries to include carbon steel scrap in the smelting process or high-carbon ferrochrome, allowing for more recyclable resources. The reactions that take place in the AOD are highly exothermic, though, and this is where the emissions are released. This makes sense since this process deals with refining the iron from carbon using an argon-oxygen base—the results not only ending in CO2 emissions but a sludge waste as well. According to an article published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, a study reveals a critical leak in the respected recycling process for stainless steels. The sludge is a hazardous waste due to the presence of chromium, a critical element in the creation of stainless steel. The sludge is actually also recyclable for the steel industry, but only in its coarse form. Its fine form, however, still hazardous, is usually left in landfills. The purpose of the article was to find alternative ways to treat the waste so that it’s no longer hazardous. This study, unfortunately, was published in 2008, and during the construction of the concert hall, this sludge was likely to have been a huge waste byproduct.
During the recycling process of scrap steel metal, the only wastes that are likely to be disposed are stainless steel dust and grinding swarf. Despite usually being sent to disposal, there are service companies who are willing to take the dust and convert it to reusable products, such as pigs of “master alloys.” The swarf, which is a mixture of fine particles consisting of metals and abrasives, can be ground and also recycled into a more useful material or product. Although scrap steel might be highly recyclable, scrap availability is an issue. Slag is usually used within a 50km radius of its source and is transported by truck, which run on fuel oil. These are interesting facts because despite the fact that modern stainless steel products average about 60% recycled steel and that the steel industry is the main consumer in steel scrap for recycling, waste is still produced and disposed due to being commercially uneconomic and inconvenience, but the prominence of how much swarf might be disposed is an unknown number. According to the U.S. Geological Survey of 1996, steel slag could be recycled about as high as 80% of the steel slag generated each year even though the exact amount is not known. Although a promising statistic and unlikely to be highly inaccurate, this estimate is most likely taken from numbers of how much slag is produced within the U.S. and then compared with how much slag is sold within the U.S. The survey also mentions that approximately 60% of the nation's iron and steel slags were produced in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois, and slag will usually travel with an average marketing range of 175 miles, which is a greater travel range than steel scrap. From this, we can vaguely conclude that the diesel gas used and emissions rate is either equal to or greater than the emissions for transportation of steel scrap depending on the demand for each commodity. This is because the more necessary one is, the more likely that commodity travels more, which uses up more fossil fuels. A significant difference between steel slag and steel scrap recycling, though, is that steel slag is mostly used for road base (about 45%), and that steel scrap stays mainly within the steel industry in order to produce more steel products. A positive aspect of metal scrap recycling is that it reduces the demand for iron ore mining or “virgin materials,” yet can never truly replace mining as virgin materials are needed at a certain quantity in order to distill impurities in scrap steel during the smelting process. An interesting statistic also provided by the USGS is that all iron and steel scrap is recycled material from a combination of home scrap, industrial scrap, and old scrap, but only up to about 60% according to other sources.
Maintenance and Future
Maintenance of the building due to its stainless steel walls still produces some types of wastes such as wastewater due its cleaning regimen every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The entire building must be cleaned in order to maintain its shiny luster as well as remove any dirt that might cause corrosion to the steel. Once a year, the building will also undergo a “six-week deep cleaning to remove any stains,” according to a LA Times article, which includes non-harmful solutions such as dish-washing liquid and deionized water. The stainless steel walls are made to sustain up to 100 years although most buildings are built under the requirement of sustaining up to 50 years, and even then when the building may have to be demolished or the stainless steel walls must be replaced, the steel is still able to be recycled as scrap metal back to the agglomeration process for benefication and return to the steel-making process.
Throughout my research on the topic, I found myself getting very specific articles on the concert hall with vague information to very vague articles (articles on the steel industry in general instead of Beck Steel Inc., the primary steel contractor) with very specific information. I was hoping this might’ve been something that could have been avoided with researching the makings of a popular building, yet when it comes down to the contractors, information becomes vague and hard to find. I feel that I fail to give a comprehensive report on all the emissions and wastes possible through constructing such a building, leaving out elements such as mining for nickel, chromium, and molybdenum, and other processes during sheet metal fabrication besides smelting. Thinking about all the information I’ve found, though, on emissions and waste with just the few subjects I decided to focus on, the recyclability of stainless steel becomes less of an innovative idea rather than a great commercially economic investment. Despite seeing the negative end of the sacrifices made to create a beautiful building, I can at least still enjoy its architecture.
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 Kusik, Charles. Page 211.
 Statistics from document on www.energy.gov called Energy and Environmental Profile of the U.S. Mining Industry in chapter entitled “Iron.”
 Comparisons and statistics from www.epa.gov.
 Information from document on www.energy.gov called Energy and Environmental Profile of the U.S. Mining Industry in chapter entitled “Iron” sections 4.4-4.6; Emissions, Effluents, By-products and Solid Waste.
 Majuste, D. and M. B. Mansur. “Characterization of the fine fraction of the argon oxygen decarburization with lance (AOD-L) sludge generated by the stainless steelmaking industry.” Journal of Hazardous Materials, 153.1-2 (2008): 85-95. Print.
 “Iron & Steel Slag.” Minerals.usgs.gov. U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, 1996. Web. 12 March 2014.
 “Raising awareness of stainless steel recycling.” worldstainless.org. International Stainless Steel Forum, 2012. Web. 12 March 2014.
 Wetherbe, Jamie. “Cleaners make Walt Disney Concert Hall’s curves sparkle.” Los Angeles Times, 20 Sept. 2013. Web. 13 March 2014.
 International Stainless Steel Forum on worldstainless.org claims that the Walt Disney Concert Hall was built to last a minimum design life of 100 years.