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By Dominick DalSanto
Environmental Technologies Expert & Author
Baghouse.com

In today’s world increasing public attention is being given to environmental issues. Politicians and lawmakers are following suit by making modifications to existing pollution control legislation. The general consensus is that environmental regulations are going to be getting much tougher in the near future. Even though certain political factions are vehemently opposing many of theses actions, the trend is most assuredly heading towards tighter regulation of emissions.

This is evidenced by recent actions of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Recently the agency issued new regulations regarding the emission of Mercury (Hg) and other heavy metals such arsenic, chromium, and nickel, and acidic gases, including hydrogen chloride (HCl) and hydrogen fluoride (HF), as well as other kinds of particulate matter (PM).

The agency also has assorted that it has authority under the U.S. Clean Air Act to regulate Green House Gases (GHGs) that are believed to be contributing to global warming trends. This will mean that large GHG emission sources will be subject to quotas and be required to acquire emissions permits for GHG emissions. These actions are in line with the current presidential administration’s environmental policy.

These and other developments, while still in their early stages will soon result in increased difficulty obtaining and staying in compliance with air permits. A process that already many in industry describe as overly complex and easy to get lost in. Many have a hard time sorting through the seemingly endless barrage of new and updated regulations. Often only realizing they have failed to meat their requirements after an inspection has taken place, and their facility has been assessed heavy fines.

New Series of Articles Regarding Air Permitting and Compliance

These new standards are particularly applicable to dust collection systems. The new EPA regulations covering particulate matte, along with Mercury and other heavy metals, poses many challenges for plants to reach compliance. Many facilities housing outdated dust collection systems, such as Shaker designs, and use baghouse filters made from older materials that are not as efficient as newer materials such at PTFE membrane. Additionally, due to shrinking maintenance budgets many dust collection systems are in a state of disrepair and as such are operating well below optimal efficiency. These factors will can potentially lead to achieving compliance with new and updated  air permits quite difficult for facility management.

We here at Baghouse.com are now preparing a series of articles to assist facility management with these issues. The new series will present an overview of the air permitting process. It will include case studies that highlight some of the difficulties involved in obtaining, and the implementation of air permits. We will also include helpful information from several consulting firms that work with industrial clients with the permitting process; from obtaining and negotiating air permits, to obtaining and maintaining compliance with them.

Read more about how to overcome unfair and confusing enforcement by regulatory bodies of emissions permits in the next article in the series: Industrial Air Permits & Your Dust Collection System – Unfair and Confusing Enforcement

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

U.S. Environmental Legislation has come under attack from many different groups recently

Editorial By Dominick DalSanto
Environmental Technologies Expert & Author
Baghouse.com

With recent battles on Capital Hill in Washington D.C. regarding the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) increasing impact on the nation’s economy, many questions are being raised as to the effectiveness of governments having a active role in environmental affairs.

One particularly interesting, and controversial question that has been raised by some is: What would our world’s air quality be without governmental environmental regulation?

Opponents of tougher emissions regulations, and environmental regulations in general, are beginning to question whether government agencies like the EPA are really needed at all.

Conservatives Weigh in on EPA Claims

Recently a conservative think tank organization named the Heritage Foundation, released a report claiming that had the U.S. Clean Air Act never been passed by the U.S. Congress in 1970, industry itself would eventually have taken steps to correct the nation’s growing environmental problems, in part due to technological advancements, and corporate ethics.

A direct quote from the report states:

It is simply preposterous to assume that air quality would worsen unabated over the course of 30 years in the absence of a particular statute. History has proven otherwise, of course. Long before the original CAA [Clean Air Act] was enacted in 1963, industrial emissions were declining as a result of technological advances and efficiency improvements. And both factors, as well as others, will continue to drive environmental improvements regardless of regulation

The paper also claims that by 1970, emissions were already declining on their own, before the first governmental clean air legislation came into effect. This they claim proves that the EPA and similar governmental regulatory bodies similar to it, are not necessary. They claim they only hurt industry and therefore the economies of their respective nations, by requiring new technologies to be installed, and issuing fines for violations.

Additionally, the Heritage Foundation claims that the estimates found in the EPA’s report to Congress are grossly inaccurate, lack any reasonable way to verify its claims, and even admits that its statistics and figures cannot be verified.

The EPA report states that in 2010 the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990 resulted in approximately $1.3 trillion in public health and environmental benefits, for a cost of only $50 billion. That’s a value worth more than 9% of GDP, for a cost of only .4% of GDP. And that in 2020  that figure will increase to approximately $2 trillion in benefits, at a cost of $65 billion. That’s a value worth more than 14% of today’s GDP, for an expenditure of only .46%. The ratio of benefits to cost is more than 30 to 1.

 

Environmentalists Strike Back

Air Pollution Trends and rates over the course of the last hundred years

Proponents of the Clean Air Act, and similar environmental regulations, point to air pollution rates such as shown here, to prove that the CCA has succeeded in reducing air pollution since then 1970s.

In short order, dozens of environmentalist organizations, and activists have attacked the conclusions of the Heritage Foundations report. One such article from Switchboard.nrdc.org which is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a leading environmental activist organization, alleges that the Heritage Foundations accusations are completely baseless. They counter that the conclusions of the Heritage Foundation are contradictory in nature, and the product of the industrial sector and right-wing political agenda.

For example the Heritage Foundation article comments that it believes that the EPA estimates are incorrect because the claims made in the report allegedly can not be corroborated. The NRDC article counters that the EPA report is in fact the product of extensive peer-review, and that the Heritage Foundation article’s only source is “a report from one non peer-reviewed study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free market think tank that, according to IRS data, is funded almost exclusively by corporate and conservative foundations (e.g. oil giants ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers). When asked by Detroit’s Metro Times in 1996 on funding sources, the Center’s President Lawrence Reed said: “Our funding sources are primarily foundations … with the rest coming from corporations and individuals,” but that “… revealing our contributors would be a tremendous diversion…”

Are Emissions Regulations Really Required?

The facts are undeniable that with stricter environmental/emissions standards has come cleaner air for all. To try and say that these regulations are not needed, and that companies, and industry in general will act to reduce the environmental damage they are inflicting on our earth is simply willful blindness. That conclusion ignores a fundamental truth about business and human nature in general; namely that profits come first, every time.

This is not meant to imply that seeking profits first is inherently unethical in some way. In fact the point of any business venture is to gain profit. Nor does this mean that there are not companies that do place a high value on environmental responsibility. Neither does it mean that governmental regulation and legislation are without flaws, or that they are only force that is working towards reducing pollution. However, even in today’s world with increasing attention being given to environmental issues by the public at large, the largest motivating factor for industry in general to reduce its environmental footprint remains the financial benefit.

For us in the dust collection industry, this means that sales efforts always need to remain focused on presenting how our dust collectors, Baghouses, and other pollution control technologies will result in savings/increased profits for the customer.

 

Sources:

http://www.heritage.org/government-regulation/report/coming-clean-regulatory-costs-and-benefits#_ftn1

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/ljohnson/the_heritage_foundations_criti_1.html

 

What Do You Think?

We would love to hear your comments on this subject. Please leave your comments below, and share in the discussion.

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

A new article from Baghouse.com has been featured on the well-known environmental blog Triplepundit.com. This article highlights the plight of a group of farmers and ranchers in Texas whose livelihoods have been devastated by acid rain, as they struggle to gain compensation, and recognition from the near by coal-fired power plants that they say are causing the problem.

 

You can read the full article here online: http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/02/pecan-growers-blame-coal-fired-plant-killing-crops/

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

Revised standards will bring dramatic benefits to public health, and cost nearly 50% less than initial proposals

By Dominick DalSanto
Environmental Technology Expert & Author
Baghouse.com

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued its final set of Clean Air Act standards for boilers and incinerators. The new standards will lead to a reduction of harmful emissions including mercury, and soot from this equipment. Recently federal court orders had charge the agency with the task of issuing final standards ahead of its proposed date. The new set of standards are expected to cost approximately 50 percent less to implement than the original proposal.

The court’s directive from September 2009 led to the EPA issuing a proposal of new standards in April 2010. The court case struck down a set of industry standards that had been proposed and adopted during the Bush administration. After receiving much public input, the EPA made substantial changes and was granted an additional 30 days by the court in December 2010 to implement as much as the public’s input as possible.

The proposed public health benefits for this plan are quite extensive. Exposure to emissions of mercury, soot and several other harmful compounds are very damaging to humans. These pollutants aggravate preexisting conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and asthma, and are especially hard on children, even causing developmental disabilities in some. The EPA estimates that between 2,600 to 6,600 premature deaths will be avoided along with 4,100 heart attacks, and 42,000 asthma attacks.

Much of the public comment on the proposed set of regulations involved the initially high cost of implementation. However, the newly revised standards represent a dramatic cut in the cost of implementation, while maintaining maximum public health benefits. As a result, EPA estimates that for every dollar spent to cut these pollutants, the public will see between $10 to $24 in health benefits, including fewer premature deaths.

Over 4,800 comments were received from both industry, and communities throughout the United States. This included a substantial amount of new information from industrial sources that had previously not been considered. In addition, President Obama recently issued an executive order that called on the EPA to reform its regulatory review process to ensure maximum protection for public health, while not unattainable burdens upon industry. Based on these factors, the EPA revised the proposed, standards, to provide addition flexibility and cost effective techniques – achieving significant pollution reduction and important health benefits, while lowering the cost of pollution control installation and maintenance by about 50 percent, or $1.8 billion.

Details of the new EPA Clean Air Act Standards for Incinerators, and Boilers

Industrial Boiler emissions are include mercury, soot, and ozone.

Emissions from industrial boilers now must conform to EPA emission standards. This includes installing pollution control technologies such as Dust Collectors, and Air Scrubbers to remove harmful compounds from the air.

Several different kinds of boiler and incinerator equipment are covered by the new EPA regulations, including:

  • Boilers used at heavy emissions sources: The approximately 13,800 boilers located at large sources of harmful emissions including chemical manufacturing plants, oil refineries, and similar industrial locations. These standards will reduce the emissions of harmful pollutants at these sources including: mercury, organic air toxins, and dioxins. Estimates for the cost of implementing these new standards in this sector are now $1.5 billion lower than the initial projected cost. Health benefits associated with reduced exposure to these harmful compounds, fine particles, and ozone are projected to save between $22 billion to $54 billion in 2014.
  • Boilers at light emissions sources: There are about 187,000 boilers located at small sources of air pollutants, including universities, hospitals, hotels and commercial buildings that may be covered by these standards. Due to the small amount of emissions these sources are responsible for, EPA has limited the impact of the final rule making on small entities. The original standards for these have been dramatically refined and updated to ensure maximum flexibility for these sources, including for some sources, revising the requirement from maximum achievable control technology to generally available control technology. The cost reduction from the proposed standard to the final is estimated to be $209 million.
  • Solid waste incinerators: There are approximately 88 solid waste incinerators are employed in commercial or industrial settings. These include those used in cement manufacturing facilities. These standards, which facilities will need to meet by 2016 at the latest, will reduce emissions of harmful pollutants including mercury, lead, cadmium, nitrogen dioxide and particle pollution. The cost reduction from the proposed standard to the final is estimated to be $12 million.

In separate but related actions, EPA is finalizing emission standards for sewage sludge incinerators. While there are more than 200 sewage sludge incinerators across the country, EPA expects that over 150 are already in compliance. These standards will reduce emissions of harmful pollutants including mercury, lead, cadmium, and hydrogen chloride from the remaining 50 that may need to leverage existing technologies to meet the new standards.

2,600 to 6,600 premature deaths will be avoided along with 4,100 heart attacks, and 42,000 asthma attacks.

EPA has also identified which non-hazardous secondary materials are considered solid waste when burned in combustion units. This distinction determines which Clean Air Act standard is applied when the material is burned. The non-hazardous secondary materials that can be burned as non-waste fuel include scrap tires managed under established tire collection programs. This step simplifies the rules and provides additional clarity and direction for facilities. To determine that materials are non-hazardous secondary materials when burned under today’s rule, materials must not have been discarded and must be legitimately used as a fuel.

The agency recognizes that secondary materials are widely used today as raw materials, as products, and as fuels in industrial processes. EPA believes that the final rule helps set protective emissions standards under the Clean Air Act.

The emissions standards for sewage sludge incinerators and the definition of solid waste are not part of today’s reconsideration.

About 200,000 boilers are located at small and large sources of air toxic emissions across the country. The final standards require many types of boilers to follow practical, cost-effective work practice standards to reduce emissions. To ensure smooth implementation, EPA is working with the departments of Energy (DOE) and Agriculture (USDA) to provide the diverse set of facilities impacted by the standards with technical assistance that will help boilers burn cleaner and more efficiently. DOE will work with large coal and oil-burning sources to help them identify clean energy strategies that will reduce harmful emissions and make boilers run more efficiently and cost-effectively. In addition, USDA will reach out to small sources to help owners and operators understand the standards and their cost and energy saving features.

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

By Dominick DalSanto
Environmental Technologies Expert, & Author
Baghouse.com

A new report finds that air pollution is a leading cause of heart attacks worldwide, along with alcohol, drug use and physical exertion.

Triggers such as Sex, anger, marijuana use and chest or respiratory infections  can also trigger heart attacks to different extents, the researchers said, but air pollution, particularly in heavy traffic, is the major culprit.

Doctors are always looking at individual factors, but often they fail to take into consideration population-wide factors when researching heart risks. Even so called “low risk” factors, when spread out over such a large percentage of the population, can end up being a major cause. Preventing them is just as vital in the large scope of things, as preventing less common, higher risk factors such as drug abuse.

The study led by Tim Nawrot of Hasselt University in Belgium, and which was published Lancet Journal, was the result of comparing data from 36 separate studies. Then the researchers calculated the relative risk posed by a series of heart attack triggers and their population-attributable fraction (PAF) — in other words the proportion of total heart attacks estimated to have been caused by each trigger.

WHO (The World Health Organization) calls air pollution as “a major environmental risk to health”. According to its own estimates, nearly 2 million premature deaths a year are the result of air pollution.

Across Asia, a recent report published this year found that many major cities in the region exceed the WHO’s air quality standards. That often lethal mixture of pollutants in the air combine to cause nearly 530,00 premature deaths each year.

The largest source of these harmful emissions, are industrial plants and power generation stations that do not employ sufficient pollution control equipment. The most evident type of this pollution, smog, is caused mainly by particulate matter emissions from the burning of coal without first processing the exhaust through the proper dust collection equipment.

While passive smoking was not included in this study, Nawrot said the effects of second-hand smoke were likely to be similar to that of outdoor air pollution, and noted previous research which found that bans on smoking in public places have significantly reduced heart attack rates.

The highest risk PAF was exposure to traffic, followed by physical exertion, alcohol, coffee, air pollution, and then things like anger, sex, cocaine use, smoking marijuana and respiratory infections.

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

By Dominick DalSanto
Environmental Technologies Expert & Author
Baghouse.com

Two Biomass power plants in California’s central valley were fined $835,000 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for exceeding emission limits of nitrogen oxides (which lead to the formation of Ozone), and fine particulate matter. Ampersand Chowchilla Biomass, LLC, (ACB), and Merced Power, LLC, (MP), are located within 12 miles of each other in California’s San Joaquin Valley. An additional fine of $15,000 was issued to ACB by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District for violation of a district only statute.

The two plants which began operating in 2008 after nearly 2 years of refurbishments, are additionally required to install new pollution control technologies, and monitoring systems. As a result of this action, the plants have installed equipment that will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 180 tons per year, and carbon monoxide by up to 365 tons per year. The EPA and The District have placed the plants under supervision for the next years years to ensure compliance.

Failure to maintain a fully functionally dust collection system often leads to heavy governmental fines, and sanctions. In the end, the cost of properly maintaining your dust collection system is much lower than the costs associated with operating a faulty, inefficient, and inadequate system.

This action is part of the EPA’s larger efforts for improve the air quality across the nation, specifically in some of the nations largest urban areas. The San Joaquin Valley suffers from one of the worst air quality situations in the country. With heavy industry, a strong reliance on personal automobiles (lack of public transportation), and geographical characteristics all combining to create large amounts of smog, ozone and particulate matter pollution. The area often consistently exceeds national health standards for ozone and particulate matter.

“EPA is committed to doing our part to tackle the worst air quality in the nation. Today’s enforcement actions are a victory for human health,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “San Joaquin Valley communities can now breathe easier as a result of the significant pollution controls won in these settlements.”

Nitrogen oxides react with other chemicals to form ozone and small particles, both harmful to the public’s health. Ozone and particulate matter affect the human respiratory system, and are linked to a variety of significant health problems ranging from aggravated asthma to premature death in people with heart and lung disease.

Biomass power plants use green waste from farms and other operations that would otherwise be subject to open burning, and construction debris that might have gone to a landfill, to generate power. A key piece of equipment needed to control emissions from this process, is an suitable dust collection system. As this case demonstrates, failure to maintain a fully functionally dust collection system often leads to heavy governmental fines, and sanctions. In the end, the cost of properly maintaining your dust collection system is much lower than the costs associated with operating a faulty, inefficient, and inadequate system.

After refurbishing the plants in 2007-2008, ACB and MP initiated operations in 2008. A joint investigation by the EPA and District found that ACB and MP violated the air permits issued to them by the District by:

· Emitting air pollutants including nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide in excess of the permit limits;

· Failing to perform timely source testing to measure emissions of various air pollutants;

· Failing to properly install and operate emissions control systems for nitrogen oxides, a precursor to ozone; and

· Failing to certify the continuous emissions monitoring systems.

The plants also violated various District rules including requirements for emissions control plans.

Do you know of any real-life examples where plants chose not to invest in a adequate dust collection system (or failed to maintain it properly, install a larger system to keep up with production needs, etc…) and in the end it ended up costing them much more later on? If you do, we would love to hear from you in the comments section below.

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

By Dominick DalSanto
Environmental Expert & Author
Baghouse.com

The first sweeping legislation governing air pollution in the state of Israel recently went into effect on Jan 1st, 2011, nearly 2 and a half years after it passage through the Israeli legislature.

Industrial plants that previously had no set emissions standards to operate under will now be required to have emissions permit. This is the culmination of nearly a decade of legislative efforts on the part of Israeli policy makers, and environmental activists to bring Israel up to par with other industrialized nations’ stance on harmful emissions. For example, the initial Clean Air Act in the United States was passed in 1970.

While the wait may have been long, the effect of the act is not a mere formality. The new legislation sets new limits for emissions, requires permits to be obtained, and establishes fines for violations of the those statues and permits. Incorporation under the Act will be gradual over the next four years with factories in the metal production and processing sector required to apply for permits by March.

The Environmental Protection Ministry said an expert committee was expected to return its recommendations by mid-January. Following which, the ministry, with the help of an international consultant, would determine the appropriate tools and develop a national plan.

The Act also merges all air monitors into one national network while increasing the number of substances monitored. The ministry will also be increasing the number of portable testers for vehicles from six presently to 11.

A database of emissions data will also shortly be available on the ministry’s website in Hebrew.

The original version of the Act was first drafted by experts on behalf of the Environmental Protection Ministry but failed to pass through the legislative process. A private member’s bill submitted by various MKs, drafted in part by the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, and championed by Omri Sharon when he was an MK, ground its way through the legislative process over a three year period, finally being passed into law in 2008. However, implementation was delayed until January 1, 2011 at the request of then minister Gideon Ezra so that the ministry could hire the requisite manpower.

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

By Gilda Martinez
Environmental Author
Baghouse.com

February 10, 2011, Cemex, the largest producer of cement in United States has agreed to pay $1.4 million for Clean Air Act violations at its cement plant in Fairborn, Ohio, to the environmental protection agency (EPA) and to the Justice Department. An additional 2 million will need to be spent by Cemex on system improvements including the installation of pollution control technology in order to achieve EPA environmental requirements.

The plant located in Ohio was affecting the health of the local population. One assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance said that the emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides can lead to grave health and environmental problems such as premature death and heart disease.

Increasingly, many environmental activists and politicians are taking are coming to believe that the only way to combat pollution is by levying heavy fines for companies that are habitually found to be in violation of current environmental regulations. This action they feel will force them to invest in pollution control technology to reduce harmful emissions.

This is a very important step taken by EPA, since it will mean not only an environmental improvement for the Fairborn populace and the surrounding region today, but also reduce childhood asthma, acid rain and smog caused by pollution, in the future.

According to the agency, Cemex annual emissions of NO2 and SO2 are expected to be reduced by approximately 2.300 tons and 288 tons.

Interestingly among the violations listed in the citation issued by the EPA, is the charge that also Cemex made substantial changes to the plant without first obtaining the proper permit. The largest polluters are required to apply for permits before beginning any work that may increase (even temporarily) air emissions.

The heavy fine for Cemex is part of an overall strategy by the EPA to mentioned push the cement industry to install the latest pollution control. For this reason the dust collection industry is expanding at a rapid pace since the demand for this equipment grows every year.

Tougher Enforcement Part of EPA Plan for 2011 – 2013

The imposing fines on the largest sources of emissions, such as Cemex and other cement manufacturers, is part of the EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011-2013 in reducing air pollution. The efforts put by the EPA in this respect are noted in the following figures:

During 2010 due to tougher enforcement of emissions regulations in cement manufacturing, coal-fired power generation, glass and acid industries the EPA achieved the following results:

  • Prevented the release of 370 million pounds of pollution across all industries.
  • 1.4 in pollution controls due to installation of Baghouses, dust collectors, and other air filtration equipments.
  • $14 million in civil penalties

A few years ago the state of Maryland enacted legislation to require the installation of specialized emissions control technology to capture excess mercury emissions from power plants. And according to the latest published reports it appears that the initiative has been a success. Coal-burning power plants in Maryland are now required to install new pollution controls that reduce mercury emissions by 80 percent.

But appearently that is not enough to keep the air quality in the state safe enough for all. Why?

A serious health threat still exists because neighboring states have yet to crack down on the toxic pollutant, an environmental group’s report says. The neighboring states, particularly Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia are among the worst in the nation for mercury emissions, ranking second, third and fourth highest, respectively, in the country. All are within Maryland’s “airshed,” where pollutants put into the air in one state are carried by prevailing winds into neighboring states.

Robert M. Summers, acting secretary of the environment, noted in a news release that 73 percent of the mercuy air pollution measured in Maryland is coming from outside the state’s borders.

He and others called on the Environmental Protection Agency to follow through with an air-quality standard it is set to propose in March that would curb mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants.  The federal standard, if proposed as drafted, would reduce mercury emission by more than 90 percent, advocates say.

The report – and a recent press conference – are meant to put public pressure on EPA to go through with the regulation in the face of pushback from industry and its supporters in Congress, where legislation to block new EPA rules is said to be in the works.

 

 
About the Author

| Dominick DalSanto is an Author & Environmental Technologies Expert, specializing in Dust Collection Systems. With nearly a decade of hands-on working experience in the industry, Dominick’s knowledge of the industry goes beyond a mere classroom education. He is currently serving as Online Marketing Director & Content Manager at Baghouse.com. His articles have been published not only on Baghouse.com , but also on other industry related blogs and sites. In his spare time, Dominick writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs.

By Gilda Martinez
Environmental Expert & Baghouse.com Staff Writer

Beingin, China, Sunday 10th of October 2010 –
32 people are killed in traffic accidents along roads that have become almost invisible due mainly to the heavy smog and fog in urban China’s overly polluted air. The largest contributor to that polluted air is by far fly ash, a residue generated by the combustion of coal, which is China’s single biggest source of solid industrial waste and, one of its gravest problems.

The purpose of this article is to draw attention to how much is being done in the development and implementation of Clean Coal technologies. With these emerging technologies it may be possible to prevent more situations like the one mention above from happening again elsewhere.  An examination of how the use of Coal as a fuel affects the environment, what the term Clean Coal technology really means, what Clean Coal techniques are being developed, and put into use today, and why it is so important for the health of both our planet, and the general population.

Why Is Coal So Highly Sought-After?

The use of coal is an integral part of almost every industry on Earth. For instance, 54% of the electricity generated in USA comes from burning Coal. Electric companies and businesses with power plants burn coal to make the steam that turns turbines and generates electricity. Not only The U.S but also China as it was mentioned before also produces a great amount of its electric power from coal, an even larger percentage than the US. A report states China meets 70% of its energy needs through this precious mineral, with electricity generation accounting for half of all coal consumption. The simple fact is that there isn’t a cheaper and sufficiently plentiful mineral that could replace this great power source.

Why Does it Cause Pollution?

Coal is the “dirtiest” of all the fossil fuels currently in use. Why is it so dangerous?  Coal is composed mainly out of carbons and hydrocarbons. When it is burned it releases large amounts of carbon dioxide CO2. This oft mentioned Greenhouse gas is one that while allowing sunlight to reach the Earth, also prevents some of the sun’s heat from radiating back into space, thus warming the planet. Additionally, when it is burned it releases fly ash (coal ash) a residue generated due to combustion.
According to a report dated on August 25th, 2008 by The Union of Concerned Scientists, a group of scientists that combine scientific research and citizen action to develop practical environmental solutions, a coal fire plant generates:

•    3,700,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary human cause of global warming, which is as much carbon dioxide as cutting down 161 million trees.
•    10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), which causes acid rain that damages forests, lakes, and buildings, and forms small harmful airborne particles that can penetrate deep into lungs.
•    500 tons of small airborne particles, which can cause chronic bronchitis, aggravated asthma, and premature death, as well as haze obstructing visibility.
•    10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide NOx, as much as would be emitted by half a million late-model cars. NOx leads to formation of ozone smog, which inflames the lungs, burning through the lung tissue making people more susceptible to respiratory illness.
•    720 tons of carbon monoxide CO, which causes headaches, and places additional stress on people with heart disease.
•    220 tons of hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds VOC, which form ozone.
•    170 pounds of mercury, where just 1/70th of a teaspoon deposited on a 25-acre lake can make the fish unsafe to eat.
•    225 pounds of arsenic, which will cause cancer in one out of 100 people who drink water containing 50 parts per billion.
•    114 pounds of lead, 4 pounds of cadmium, other toxic heavy metals, and trace amounts of uranium.

Due to all the contaminants coal burning comes along with, there is an increasing need for technology development in the Clean Coal field. From here an analysis of what technologies are being used the most to remove pollution from coal burning residues.

Carbon Capture & Storage

Among all the existing Clean Coal technologies, the one that is the most popular and efficient is Carbon Capture and Storage. It consists of a process that captures carbon dioxide CO2 emissions from industrial sources and stores them in geological formations miles deep inside in the earth.
CCS Carbon Capture and Storage is an integrated concept consisting of three distinct components: CO2 capture, transport and storage including measurement, monitoring and verification. All three components are currently found in industrial operation today, although mostly not for the purpose of CO2 storage.
Depending on the process or power station in question, three approaches to Carbon Capture exist- pre-, post- and oxy-fuel combustion:

•    Pre-combustion capture systems remove CO2 prior to combustion. This is accomplished via gasification. The gasification of a fossil fuel produces a “synthesis gas” syn-gas, which is primarily a mixture of carbon monoxide, methane and hydrogen. Before combustion, the syn-gas is reacted with steam to produce CO2 that is subsequently scrubbed from the gas stream, usually by a physical or chemical absorption process. The result is a hydrogen-rich fuel that can be used in a wide range of applications. Pre-combustion systems are not a mature market technology but are intended for deployment in conjunction with Integrated Gasification and Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology. The use of IGCC for coal-based electricity production is limited with only four coal-based IGCC demonstration plants in operation globally. Reliability, availability and cost of technology have hindered wider deployment of IGCC.
•    Post-combustion techniques are the standard practice for removing pollutants, such as sulfur, from the flue gas of coal-fired power stations. Flue gas typically contains up to 14% CO2, which must be separated- either through absorption chemical or physical, cryogenics and membrane technologies. For CO2 capture, chemical absorption with amines, such as Monoethanolamine MEA, is currently the process of choice. Once recovered, the CO2 is cooled, dried and compressed for transport. Post-combustion systems are posited as a carbon mitigation solution for the existing fleet of coal-fired power plants around the globe. However, retrofitting a capture system to a power station requires major technical modifications. These alterations are quite costly and are accompanied by substantial decreases in generating efficiency. For example, an MEA retrofit of an existing 500 MWe subcritical pulverized coal PC power plant cuts efficiency by 14.5 %. Net electrical output is diminished by over 40% to 294 MWe. Such a retrofit is expected to impose capital costs of USD 1600/kWe
•    Oxy-fuel combustion burns fossil fuels in 95% pure oxygen instead of air. This results in a flue gas with high CO2 concentrations greater than 80% that can be condensed and compressed for transport and storage. This method of CO2 capture is still in the demonstration phase.

Other Clean Coal Technologies

The Sulfur gas produced by burning coal can be partially removed with scrubbers or filters. In conventional coal plants, the most common form of sulfur dioxide control is through the use of scrubbers. To remove the SO2, the exhaust from a coal-fired power plant is passed through a mixture of lime or limestone and water, which absorbs the SO2 before the exhaust gas is released through the smokestack. Scrubbers can reduce sulfur emissions by up to 90 percent, but smaller particulates are less likely to be absorbed by the limestone and can pass out the smokestack into the atmosphere.  In addition, scrubbers require more energy to operate, thus increasing the amount of coal that must be burned to power their operation.

Other coal plants use “fluidized bed combustion” instead of a standard furnace. Fluidized bed technology was developed in an effort to find a combustion process that could limit emissions without the need for external emission controls such as scrubbers. A fluidized bed consists of small particles of ash, limestone and other non-flammable materials, which are suspended in an upward flow of hot air. Powderized coal and limestone are blown into the bed at high temperature to create a tumbling action, which spurs more effective chemical reactions and heat transfer. During this burning process, the limestone binds with sulfur released from the coal and prevents it from being released into the atmosphere.

Fluidized bed combustion plants generate lower sulfur emissions than standard coal plants, but they are also more complex and expensive to maintain. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, sulfur emissions decreased by 33 percent between 1975 and 1990 through the use of scrubbers and fluidized bed combustors, as well as switching to low-sulfur coal.

Another technology used to clean coal is gasification which means to burn coal in oxygen to produce a cleaner gaseous fuel known as syngas mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. This process reduces the emissions of Sulphur, nitrogen oxides and mercury, which results in a cleaner fuel. The resulting hydrogen gas can be used for electricity generation or as a transport fuel. The gasification process also facilitates capture of CO2 emissions from the combustion effluent (see discussion of carbon capture and storage below).

Integrated gasification combined cycle IGCC systems combine gasification with a heat recovery system that feeds a secondary steam-powered generator, thereby increasing the power generated from a given amount of coal. These systems are currently being employed in many new coal-fired power plants worldwide.

Why Clean Coal Technologies Are So Important

Discussion has shown how airborne pollution is affecting the planet to such a degree that scientists believe that there is a urgent need to take action, otherwise humankind will begin to suffer the consequences in short order if not now currently.

Government and environment advocates are doing their best to implement all the available strategies and to create new ones. Carbon Capture and Storage is being approved for use by many industries but, as with all that is new, this technology is very expensive and it consumes much more energy than others.

Therefore there is still a large demand for conventional Scrubbers and Filters for companies that cannot afford the latest to implement the latest technological advances.

We hope this article has provided a better understanding of this polluting mineral, the latest methods of reducing the environmental impact of coal, and raised awareness that the need for these environmentally friendly technologies is increasing every year.