Posts

Chicago and North Western Indian residents have reason to expect cleaner air this week with the announcement that the nearly 90 year old coal-fired State Line Power Station would be closing. Located between Lake Michigan and the Chicago Skyway at the Illinois-Indiana border, the plant has long been known as one of the dirtiest power plants in the nation.

With the recent passing of stricter environmental air laws, including reductions in emissions limits from smoke stacks, utilities are finding that many of the older plants still in operation today simply are no longer cost effective. Executives from the Virginia-based Dominion Resources which, owns the plant, announced they had decided it isn’t worth upgrading the plant to comply with the federal Clean Air Act. The company plans to shutter State Line as early as next year and no later than 2014, said Thomas Farrell, Dominion’s chief executive.

To read more, please see the full article on the Chicago Tribune website here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-met-coal-plant-shutdown-20110505,0,6983.story

 

 
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.

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

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.

2010 marks the second year in a row that no new coal-fire power plants were constructed in the United States according to the Washington Post. However coal-fired plants remain the largest generator of electricity in the U.S. supplying approximately 50% of all power generated each year. Increasingly however factors such as the economy, lower natural gas prices, and environmentalist opposition, have effectively halted the growth of the coal industry.

Recent technological advancements in the extraction and production of natural gas have unlocked for use large domestic supplies previously thought unusable. This in turn has driven the cost of natural gas down dramatically. Reserves of natural gas found in Shale Rock formations, (or Shale Gas) are thought to be enormous, rivaling the oil reserves of the Middle East.

With many in the industry looking to natural gas as the future, including American Electric Power (AEP) America’s largest electricity generator, interest in new coal plants seems to be waning. Additionally according to a report from Deutsche Bank, if gas prices stay below $6, more plants will be converting from coal to gas.

“Coal is a dead man walkin’,” says Kevin Parker, global head of asset management and a member of the executive committee at Deutsche Bank. “Banks won’t finance them. Insurance companies won’t insure them. The EPA is coming after them…And the economics to make it clean don’t work.”

This however does not mean that the coal industry is dead. The coal industry still manged to have enough weight last year to kill the climate legislation (cap and trade) in the US Senate, showing it still has a lot of influence in politics and public opinion. Plus, even as it declines, it remains the number one source of electricity in America.

Further challenges await the coal industry this year from a different front. Beginning this year, the Environmental Protection Agency has new regulations scheduled to take effect to lower greenhouse gas emissions of power plants emitting over 75,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Such a rule would force industry to install state-of-the-art emissions controls on new construction in order to obtain the necessary air permits. Along with increased pressure from Washington, this means that existing coal-fired plants will be coming under heavy scrutiny to ensure that they are meeting all current Federal and State emissions regulations. With large fines, and negative publicity being the price of failing to meet the new standards.

 

 
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.