What Actually Happened to Demolish the Twin Towers

Monday, May 26, 2014

Energy Consumption and the Destruction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers on 9/11

Written by Wayne Coste

realities of what energy sources could have been drawn upon. While it is not likely that records of electrical consumption at the Twin Towers or Building 7 can be obtained for 9/11 without a subpoena, total New York City electrical consumption can be reviewed for power surges or other characteristics of unusual behavior.

Electrical consumption information is publicly available from the New York Independent System Operator. The New York electricity grid manager records real-time electrical consumption for different zones within New York in time steps of approximately 5 minutes each. One of the reporting zones covers both New York City and Long Island. Figure 1 shows the electrical consumption for all of New York and Long Island on 9/11 and on two other days for comparison. Each day of the week has its own characteristics and is strongly affected by weather and commercial activity. For comparison purposes, the Tuesday prior to 9/11 was used as a reference. However, this was September 4th, which was the day after Labor Day. Because of the reduced economic activity following the holiday, the electrical consumption is seen to be lower. September 10th, the Monday preceding 9/11, is an unremarkable day from the perspective of electrical consumption, and it should therefore provide a suitable base level of electricity use in this zone for comparison to the following day, 9/11.

Figure 1 shows that the loads on Tuesday 9/11 were about the same level as on Monday, until about 8:30 AM, when the electrical consumption began to trend lower. At about 10 AM, the electrical consumption dropped suddenly, deviating from the expected pattern of increasing loads throughout the morning.

real-time-loads-ny-iso-0000-2400Figure 1: Real-Time Electricity Consumption for Three Days in September 2001 (New York City/Long Island zone)1

Figure 2 shows a "zoomed-in" time scale over an interval of about two hours. There are no surges in consumption visible, only a sudden decrease after 9:55.

real-time-loads-ny-iso-0800-1100Figure 2: Real-Time Electricity Consumption between 8:00 and 11:00 For Three Days in September 2001 (New York City/Long Island Zone) 2

Energy Equivalent of 1100 MWh means:

1100 MW for 60 minutes
13,200 MW for 5 minutes
396,000 MW for 10 seconds

As a point of reference, this draw would be nearly 50 percent of the total peak demand of the entire North American electricity grid on a very hot day. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has estimated the total summer consumption to be approximately 830,000 MW in 2014 (NERC, 2013 Long-Term Reliability Assessment, December 2013).

If there were in fact any "advanced" weapons, or other advanced technologies in play, it is reasonable to expect that some of the energy would have been drawn from the largest and most accessible source of energy, the power grid. Obtaining large amounts of power from sources not connected to the grid would have required large generators or enormous energy storage devices (batteries or super-capacitors) with phenomenal discharge rates. Storage devices for utility-scale energy storage (excluding hydroelectric technologies) are limited to approximately 1-5 MWh in size and typically are only a fraction of this amount . For comparison, the energy storage capability for a Tesla Model S is only 0.085 MWh.

While the amount of energy used to destroy the Twin Towers is unknown, it is reasonably accepted that there were about 110 MWhs of potential energy in each tower. It is estimated that during the approximately 10 second interval within which each building was destroyed, energy consumption could be, give or take, at least 10 times greater than the available potential energy. Assuming this factor is approximately correct and 100 percent efficiency during the conversion from electrical consumption to applied destructive energy, the destruction would have drawn, give or take, 1100 MWhs from the grid to destroy each tower (at 9:58:59 AM for the South Tower and 10:28:22 AM for the North Tower). For 1100 MWh to be drawn from the grid over only 10 seconds to destroy each tower, this would have required two pulses of 396,000 MW for 10 seconds. Across the 5 minute recording interval that was typical for the New York Independent System Operator, this would have appeared as an increase of 13,200 MW for 5 minutes. This surge would have created an energy spike that would have doubled the energy consumption in the NYC area for that 5 minute period. Figures 1 and 2 show that there was no such power surge recorded.

The electric power grid is a very complex system that has many limitations. For example, the 2003 Northeast blackout was caused by an unexpected increase in power flow by about 1000-2000 MW. Eastern New York typically cannot handle a power surge of more than 1500 MW of any duration without a high probability of causing another blackout. The disturbance that caused the 1977 New York City blackout was approximately two-thirds of this amount.

The only other off-the-grid energy source that has a significant surge capacity is the nuclear-fueled power plants on aircraft carriers and submarines, which for comparison purposes is about four times the amount of power that propelled the RMS Titanic. Mechanical and thermal stresses would preclude using them in a mode where energy would be extracted during very short time frames.

This leaves only non-electrical sources capable of doing the damage that was observed. The source of this energy is likely to have been locally placed, highly energetic chemical sources, i.e., explosives. Although we do not know specifically how these energetic materials were used, or whether they were used in conjunction with other energetic materials, the nano-thermite (both reacted and unreacted) that has been found in the World Trade Center dust seems to be a prime candidate for the source of this energy. Figure 3 reproduces a graph from the Niels Harrit/Stephen Jones nano-thermite paper that compares estimates of the explosive capability of the nano-thermite chips and TNT. This figure shows that on a gram-per-gram basis, the nano-thermite had the energy equivalent of TNT. This suggests that 1,100 MWh of energy is about the equivalent of 1,000 tons of TNT (The so-called Fat Man atomic bomb, which destroyed Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945 was about 15,000 tons of TNT equivalent).

nano-thermite-v-tntFigure 3: Comparison of the Explosive Energy of Nano-thermite and TNT 3

Assuming the standard convention that 1g TNT equals 4184 Joules, one metric ton of TNT equals 1.16 MWh

In conclusion, electric energy from the electric power grid was not observed to be related to the source of the energy that destroyed the Twin Towers. Other off-the-grid energy sources or energy storage devices are very unlikely to have had the storage capacity to do any of the destruction that was observed. The use of locally planted energy sources seems to be a much more plausible explanation. Furthermore, chemical energy in the form of explosives seems to be the most likely source of energy that was seen to be released on 9/11 .



  1. Source of Data: https://www.nyiso.com/public/markets_operations/market_data/load_data/index.jsp Select "More Files" and browse for data
  2. For further information about energy storage see:https://www.doe.gov/sites/prod/files/oeprod/DocumentsandMedia/FINAL_DOE_Report-Storage_Activities_5-1-11.pdf].
  3. Assuming the standard convention that 1g TNT equals 4184 Joules, one metric ton of TNT equals 1.16 MWh
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