Why Louvre’s Mona Lisa retains a smile: Paris’ cooling process



The Mona Lisa may well preserve her famously enigmatic smile mainly because she rewards from one of Paris’ ideal-stored strategies: An underground cooling technique that’s aided the Louvre cope with the sweltering heat that has broken temperature records across Europe.

The minimal-recognised “urban cold” network snakes unsuspecting beneath Parisians’ ft at a depth of up to 30 meters (98 ft), pumping out icy water by means of 89 kilometers (55 miles) of labyrinthine pipes, which is utilised to chill the air in above 700 web pages. The system, which makes use of energy generated by renewable resources, is the premier in Europe — and chugs on around the clock with a deafening sound fully inaudible previously mentioned ground.

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Paris Town Hall has now signed an bold contract to triple the sizing of the community by 2042 to 252 kilometers (157 miles). It would make it the major city cooling process in the globe. The new contract intends to enable the town to equally adapt to and battle the menace of international warming. Quite a few parts of Europe strike 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in July.

The town is extending the cooling community to hospitals, colleges and metro stations around the upcoming two decades. It’s unclear how substantially of the process will be operational by the time of the Paris Olympics in 2024, but it is probable the methods will be utilised in a number of Olympic internet sites.

mona lisa, mona lisa louvre, louvre cooling system A worker inspects devices at component of Fraicheur de Paris’ underground cooling process, in Paris. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

Unbeknown to millions of vacationers, the piping at present cools the City of Light’s most emblematic internet sites, this sort of as the Louvre and the Quai Branly Museum. It could possibly even assistance cool the tempers of agitated lawmakers as it is employed to fall temperatures in the Nationwide Assembly.

The plan is operated by the joint-undertaking enterprise Fraicheur de Paris — 85% owned by the state’s French power business EDF and the rest by community transportation operator RATP. The company’s officers tout its gains for the whole French money.

“If all (Parisian) properties get geared up with autonomous installations (these as air-conditioning), it will gradually generate a very sizeable urban ‘heat island’ effect,” stated Maggie Schelfhaut of Fraicheur de Paris, referring to the greater warmth in towns owing to a lot less vegetation, which cools, and additional city infrastructure, which absorbs the sun’s rays.

But Schelfhaut claimed that the pipe community could make the entire of Paris just one degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) cooler than if autonomous installations have been place up throughout the city.

“One degree fewer in the city middle is a whole lot,” she additional.

mona lisa, mona lisa louvre, louvre cooling system The Louvre museum added benefits from just one of Paris’ finest-stored secrets and techniques, an underground cooling procedure which is helped the Louvre cope with the sweltering heat that has damaged temperature documents across Europe. (AP Picture/Lewis Joly)

A few of the 10 significant-tech cooling sites lie on the Seine river and are accessed by a retractable spiral staircase barely visible from road stage — in one thing resembling the lair of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

When the Seine’s h2o is chilly enough, a equipment captures it and takes advantage of it to chill the system’s water. The heat designed as a byproduct is despatched back into the Seine exactly where it is absorbed. The chilled h2o is then pumped even though the system’s pipes to its 730 Parisian clientele.

Paris’ cooling web sites all use renewable energy resources this kind of as wind turbines and photo voltaic panels. 4 new solar electricity web sites which will feed into this network are also earmarked for building. French officials see this electrical power independence as significantly important specified the danger of Russia chopping off vitality provides to Europe.

Russian power corporation Gazprom on Wednesday minimize the volume of pure gas flowing as a result of a key pipeline from Russia to Europe to 20% of its capability. European nations are speeding to discover solutions amid fears that Russia could absolutely reduce off fuel exports — which are used for business, to crank out electrical power and to neat households — to try out to attain political leverage more than the bloc.

louvre, louvre mona lisa, paris underground cooling system A map of the running internet sites of Fraicheur de Paris, an underground cooling program in Paris. Operate fully by electrical energy produced by renewable power, it is the greatest in Europe and goes unnoticed previously mentioned ground. (AP Image/Lewis Joly)

The merits of making use of a cooling method which works by using renewable electrical power to work are already staying felt by web pages that use them. The world’s most frequented museum, the Louvre, has benefited from the network since the 1990s — with officers proud of its ecological, economic and artwork conservation rewards.

“It lets us to benefit from energy with a lower carbon footprint readily available all calendar year spherical,” said Laurent Le Guedart, the Louvre’s Heritage Director. “The particularity of the Louvre Museum is that it needs to use iced-cold h2o to accurately conserve the artwork and to handle the humidity.”

The Louvre does not use air conditioning and officers say the cooling also wins them much required ground area in the sprawling, nonetheless cramped, previous palace that is household to 550,000 artworks.

Le Guedart stated that the technique is a funds-saver offered the increasing value of energy joined to the Ukraine conflict. It operates notably in the Condition Place of the Pavillon Denon the place the Mona Lisa life. Maybe it’s why beads of sweat have never trickled down the brow painted by Leonardo da Vinci.

“The energy monthly bill of the Louvre is all around 10 million euros per yr in 2021. We are attempting to handle this bill as a great deal as feasible, amid the obvious fluctuations and improves to energy expenditures,” Le Guedart reported.

The method could save it hundreds of thousands by cushioning the shock as Russia continues to roil the power sector.

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