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Utility systems in Rapture - Hephaestus (The heart of Rapture) :

Hephaestus diagram - Harmonic Core #3 : http://img36.imageshack.us/img36/9263/hesphaestus.png

.Harmonic Core #3 - #3 so the one damaged by Jack was only one of several... - Core.png

Harmonic Core #2 is seen in the BS2 Multiplayer scenario (similar design to #3)

Harmonic Core #1 isnt as impressive looking because it has a more conventional horizontal (floor standing) design (it was more important to get it running to power/heat city construction than the aesthetics of #2 & #3 ).


A well is drilled into the seabed Vent and seawater injected into it. That emerges as superheated water (under steam pressure) which is then passed thru a heat exchanger to heat a 'clean' working fluid (distilled water) that is converted to steam and rotates the great turbine (and is later condensed to be reused in the closed system). Meanwhile the hot seawater is vented near the top of the structure into the ocean.

Cold Ocean water is used to keep the systems temperature under control and for the condensation stage of the working fluid (the vacuum from condensing steam is often used in high efficiency power turbines).

High capacity generators are used to generate electrical power at 13.8kV. The excitation reactors tune the capacitor bank to a frequency near the 5th harmonic (i.e. 270 hertz) to prevent oversaturation of the magnetic cores. The EMP 'bomb' probably did more damage to the control/regulating systems of this monstrosity to cause its failure than direct damage to the generating unit.


As mentioned previously, these gigantic machines like Harmonic Core #3 (a 150 foot tall monstrocity actually) were more show pieces ( Ryan had tours given for Hephaestus... ) and the bulk of the City's power eventually came from many smaller (more efficient and easier to maintain, but not so spectacular) geothermal wells. These early large units were simpler to install when the city was being built (prebuilt on the surface and requiring only a single 'vent' well to be drilled). Later, better technology was developed for the smaller geothermal generation units that eventually supplied the majority of the electric power AND which could be manufactured IN Rapture for the planned future expansions of the city.

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The diagram (bottom right) also shows one one of the very early test generators which was closer in design to the large number of small Geothermal Power Units that were built later. Dozens of these were setup early on to supply the power needed for construction (including before HC #1). These temporary units were later replaced with permanent 'small' unit installations

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The Hephaestus complex supplies (using volcanic vents as a energy source) :

- Electric power - from geothermal steam generation and generator turbines. Transformers do voltage conversion for efficient transmission across the city and elsewhere (to distant industrial sites)

- Heating - superheated water piped to Raptures buildings :

  • The long distance pipes do lose significant heat, but the massive volumes of hot water get the job done. Equally massive pumps move that hot water.
  • All those odd pipes/conduits you see outside the windows at Hephaestus, would are part of the City heating system (the hot water flowing thru pipes across the city for temperature control -- to counter all the heat bleeding out thru the walls into the ice-cold water).
  • Local heating (electric) is done for parts of the city too far from Hephaestus (pipes too long).

- De-salinization - fresh water conversion via steam boiling and condensation from salt water - source of water for good portion of the city. Some water recycling is done for agricultural used (sewage plant). Water Company local reservoirs (fresh water) - up on the side of Mt. Ryan to create gravity pressure, high-rises have tanks in their roof stories. The system filters/purifyers never quite eliminated the 'sea' smell from the water supplied to the city.

- Emergency oxygen generation using electrical hydrolysis (at the powers source and piping oxygen into the city ventilation system). Liquid oxygen for various industrial processes is also made here.

- Chemical recovery/precipitation from the water emerging from the geothermal vents.

- Utility grid (electric/heat/water) radiated out to the city via the 'city mains' in the armored utility conduits (some combined in 'street' structures, others as stand-alone 'aqueducts').

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The Field of Hades surrounding Hephaestus facility, has many of the much smaller geothermal power generating units, which generate the majority of the electic power for Rapture. There is plenty of additional power that could be tapped into for the planned long-term growth of Rapture. With the lowered population and disconnected/dysfunctional utilities in large sections of the city, the remaining power capacity is actually being under utilized..

Located at Vulcan's Forge (near Hephaestus) is the well drilling equipment used to drive the wells thousand of feet into the seabed needed for the geothermal systems. Additional even larger/extensive de-salinization and heat plants exist here.

Contrary to the postcards, the red glow at Hephaestus is NOT molten magma/lava (cant glow on contact with cold water and there would be incredible amounts of steam obscuring the view) --- it is red bioluminescent algae that thrives in the extreme temperature and chemical environment near the thermal vents. The algae (and others like it) have been harvested to fuel a whole Bioluminescence industry (the most interesting varieties are down in the Abyss)..

"EVA Preparation" (on a sign seen in BS2-MP Hephaestus) - extra vehicular activity - not quite accurate use of the term. Submarines and divers are needed for the extensive outside facilities which require some maintenance and adjustments, as well as ongoing new construction. Long term the abrasive action of water in the pipes and slow corrosion will require repairs and replacement..

In BS1, Ryan sets Hephaestus on 'self-destruct', that would not be likely to 'blow up the city', but shutting down/destroying the utilities would have killed Rapture as surely as blowing it up would - it would only take a little while longer..

Hephaestus continued to largely function post-Lamb, some personnel (Ryan faction) kept much of it running and kept the utilities flowing to the rest of the city. The systems used for HC #3 are all triple-redundant ontop of a 600% over-engineering margin (like most of the utilities in Rapture) to prevent catastrophic failures. It is one of the reasons that HC #3 is still operating, sending power and heat to Rapture in 1971 --- at the time of the MMORPG. A high priority for New Rapture was to gain control of the utility systems and guarantee their continuance and then start repairing/restoring the capacity needed to revitalize the city.

For the MMORPG game, there are plenty of machinery/control/pipe detail assets in Hephaestus (including the BS2 MP stuff) that should be recycled and used for all kinds of industrial systems that would exist throughout the City..

The diagram shows a bit more extensive equipment/machinery on HC #3 than we saw in the game, and the maintenance/access corridors (yellow) climbing twice as high as they spiraled around the core, climbing level by level to near its top.   A freight elevator would probably exist on the Control Room side of the facility to make access more convenient, and a proper stairwell would be located on the opposite side.

There do seem to be some good sized pipes full of flammable gas in various places (usually with a leak and a flame jetting out) and is probably only for specific uses like ovens/grills/certain manufacturing tools and other pinpoint heat production (you wouldn't waste oxygen burning anything for air temperature control).  Hephaestus doesnt produce this (unless its hydrogen gas from hydrolysis). Instead most may be from methane-farms (processed sewage/garbage).

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Building Harmonic Core #3 :

- Surveys - several sites for Rapture were investigated, looking to fulfil the requirements that Ryan and his planners specified. One was a sufficiently large Geothermal resource in close proximity that could be utilized to provide unlimited power for the City.

- Before Raptures position was even finalized, 'The Rock' was found in proximity to the Geothermal area (Field of Hades) at the site called Hephaestus. With its unusual shape (an ancient volcanic vent that had hugely built up its cone shaped core with a central cavity) it looked useable for something. Later, some of Ryans engineers proposed it for one of the Large Power Plants.

- Hephaestus #1 and #2 were operational (1946/1947) before construction on #3 was ever started.

- Ryan was shown the plan and thought it impressive enough to become a Show Piece of Rapture's exceptionalism, saying "it will be like a Hoover Dam ... inspiring confidence with its massive solidity". Ryan suggested adding something that would animate it and the engineers proposed the De-salinization boiler elements with that odd rotation and the visible steam tubes. Later HC #2 was retrofitted with the same 'anmimation'.

- 'The Rock' was thoroughly tested for defects/instabilities before any further work was started.

  • Test drillings were made to verify there weren't any hidden voids in its rock mass.

- Hollowing out 'The Rock' :

  • Enlarging the central cavity for the working space/chamber to its cylindrical shape..
  • Plasma cutters dug out the rock and any soft spots were cleared and patched with concrete.
  • Many of the same techniques were employed later when building The Stadium's huge cavern.

- Creating the 'Well' in the ancient vent :

  • As soon as the 'floor' of the Chamber took shape, the Geothermal Well was Drilled.
  • Using one of the new plasma drilling bits (that made the Tunnel Boring machines so efficient).
  • The drilling went down 3000 feet to reach a sufficiently active geothermal layer.
  • The well was lined, injectors added, and tested to verify its stability and capacity, then was capped.

- Preparing the 'Chamber' :

  • Enlarging and reinforcing the walls and digging the maintenance and machinery bays into the rock.
  • Building the ring foundation the 'Dome' (chamber ceiling) would rest upon.
  • Adding the anchors for the girders that support the core machinery.
  • Tunnels built for various pipes and passages for humans were added and seals installed (very important to have all the pressure seals in place and verified).

- Assembling the 'Core' near the surface :

  • Partial assembly was done at a nearby shallow spot on the side of Mt. Ryan where divers using conventional diving suits could operate.
  • Steel Girder superstructure was assembled around the pre-assembled boilers and super-heaters (lower part)
  • The Turbines and heavy Generators were not yet attached (upper part)
  • The whole structure together was over 150 feet long and had final assembly done while being floated vertically.* The chamber's ceiling structure called 'The Dome' was also assembled out of girders and plate. It would act as a form for the reinforced concrete that would make up most of 'the Domes' full structure.

- Lowering the Core Assembly :

  • One of the Floating Cranes brought the 'Core' to 'the Rock' location.
  • Aligning with the Chamber - the Core was positioned and fastened into place.
  • Other heavy/bulky components - Generators, pumps, turbines, piping were transported and placed.

- Installing the Dome shell :

  • The Floating Crane was used again to lower and place 'the Dome' structure at the top of the Chamber.
  • Sealing the Dome edges to the ring foundation, welded and cemented securely.
  • The Dome was then filled in with rebar and concrete to be strong enough to hold up the weight/pressure of 450 feet of water above.
  • Sufficient time was given for the concrete to set and the dome to interlock with its founadtion.

- Pumping out the Chamber :

  • Pumps that would later be used for cooling and feeding water thru the city heating system were used to pump all the water out of the core chamber. Water seals are confirmed.
  • After washing down all the equiptment and drying out (getting rid of corrosive salt), concrete linings were added where needed for the walls and maintenance tunnels, and various deck structures added for the operators.

- Hookup :

  • The turbines and generators and other equipment were unpacked and installed (using the moveabale maintenance platform and overhead crane).
  • The various systems were connected/interconnected and thoroughly load tested.
  • The external connection to Hephaestus complex and out toward the rest of Rapture were made.

- Decoration :

  • The 'brass' plate that was the decorative theme for the rest of Hephaestus were applied to the walls.
  • Native rock was left exposed in places.
  • Transparent piping that gave an impressive show of the Red Bioluminescent algae.

- Activation - 1948 - HC #3 came online supplying power/heat/water for the City.

- Tourist Attraction - Hephaestus HC #3 became a popular tourist destination for new Citizens and children's school field trips (and subject of postcards ...).

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