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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.

In Texas, the EPA has informed a sizable number of oil refiners, chemical and plastics manufacturers that they need to bring their air pollution permits in line with federal and not Texas state levels.

All but three of the 74 companies have informed the Environmental Protection Agency that they will bring the state-issued permits into compliance with federal law within the next year.

This action is in response to the on-going conflict between federal air quality standards, and Texas state legislation which allows for so-called flexible permits. The permits in question require refineries, chemical plants and other facilities to meet an overall emissions cap but allows them to choose how to do so. Federal rules, however, require plants to limit emissions of certain pollutants from each source within a facility.

With this turn of events, it appears that even while Texas is still battling the EPA on this issue, industry in general in Texas is bringing itself in line with federal standards.

Commenting on Texas industries Al Armendariz, the EPA’s administrator based in Dallas stated “They understand these permits are an anomaly,” adding that none of the companies has indicated that it will sue to keep its flexible permit. “It’s now a question of how do they fix them instead of whether they should”.

Texas has filed suit to block the EPA’s disapproval of flex permits, asserting that there is no legal or technical justification for the federal agency’s action.

The EPA rejected the state’s use of the permits in June, saying they fall short of the federal Clean Air Act’s requirements. But those with the permits reacted slower than Armendariz liked, so he threatened fines and other penalties if they did not move by Dec. 22 to resolve their permits.

The EPA would not say which companies failed to meet the deadline because of the possibility of taking enforcement action against them. But Armendariz said his staff had heard from the 30 largest permit-holders, which account for roughly 90 percent of emissions released under flexible permits.

Pam Giblin, an Austin-based Baker Botts attorney who represents many large flexible permit holders, said industry waited to respond until the EPA had explained how to make their permits comply — and not in protest.

Pollutants and permits

The single overall cap, the EPA argues, makes the Texas permits nearly unenforceable and allow plants to emit more than similar facilities in other states. But state officials say the system cuts red tape and pollution without violating federal law.

TCEQ spokesman Andy Saenz said companies “must decide for themselves how to deal with EPA’s overreaching and unnecessary regulatory demands. The TCEQ is not requiring any ‘fix’ but the agency is accommodating any legally viable transition option that flex permit holders may choose to exercise.”

The EPA has encouraged companies to follow the leads of Flint Hills Resources and INEOS Olefins & Polymers USA – both of which agreed to apply for new state-issued permits after negotiating some terms and conditions with the federal agency.

That’s important because the agreements ensure that the state permits will meet federal requirements, said Ilan Levin, an attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project, which has filed legal challenges to some of the flexible permits.

Request for transparency

“The devil is in the details, and the TCEQ hasn’t been willing to guarantee that these be done in a transparent way,” Levin said.

Valero Energy Corp., for example, has asked TCEQ to set limits for each emissions source at its plants, but to leave the rest of the permit alone. The state has issued new permits for five of the San Antonio company’s six Texas facilities, although the EPA has raised concerns about whether the revisions are federally compliant.

Valero spokesman Bill Day said the company is talking with the EPA to resolve their differences.

 

 
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.

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.

By Dominick DalSanto
Environment Expert & Author
Baghouse.com

The term Industrial Dust Collection for many simply draws a blank in their minds. “What is that?” they may say. Or they might simply think that it has something to do with “Big Vacuum Cleaners”. But little do those outside of the industry itself appreciate how many benefits this multimillion dollar industry brings to all of us. Here are just 5 reasons why we should be care about Dust Collection technology and the effects it has on our lives.

1. Dust Collection Protects Human Life

There are literally thousands of industrial processes that create dust pollution, including Steel Mills, Food Processing, Woodworking, Cement Plants, and other Manufacturing.  By capturing harmful particulate matter emitted from these industrial sources, prevent the release of a wide range of dangerous compounds into the atmosphere, thereby preventing human exposure to this harmful material.

2. Dust Collection Protects Our Environment

Since the industrial revolution began almost 200 years ago, mankind’s industrial progress has caused much harm to our planet. By passing contaminated air through a Dust Collector Filter before it is released into the environment, industrial sites can prevent the contamination of water sources, such as rivers lakes and streams, as well as keep our air clean, safe and breathable for animal, plant and human life alike.

3. Proper Dust Collector Systems Help Keep Workers Healthy

Ironworkers from 1930 working on the Empire State Building

One of the greatest dangers facing industrial workers is exposure to contaminated air. Another overlooked danger of large amounts of dust pollution, is the very real threat of a dust explosion occurring. When certain kinds of dusts are dispersed into the air in the right proportions, it can lead to a very violent explosion that can  cause a massive loss of life. Through the operation of a Baghouse (Trade term for a Dust Collector), job site hazards are reduced, and worker safety is increased.

4.  Dust Control Helps Keep Manufacturing Costs Down, Leading To Cheaper Products For You

With a adequate Dust Control program in place, industry can avoid many costly accidents (Such as Dust Explosions) and attain a higher quality product.

5. Countless Products Could Not Be Manufactured With It

Many industrial processes are only possible through the application of Dust Collection/Separation and related technology. These include most forms of Food Production, Metal Processing, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and more.

Yes our industry, which may at times to the public seem to be irrelevant, is in fact one of the most vital industrial processes we have in our modern industrial era.

What other ways does the Dust Collection Industry benefit society?

This list is by no means exhaustive, no does it claim to be. We would like to hear from you. Please leave your comments 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.

One only has to look at how the US Department of Homeland Security and its TSA (Travel Safety Association) are making headlines recently for implementing controversial security measures at American airports, thereby changing the way we travel, to see clearly the effect that governmental agencies can have on our everyday life.

One agency that often gets overlooked has done more to change the United States (and through its influence the world) than most people realize. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.

As part of a larger week of commemorating 40 years of protecting the environment, the Aspen Institute – an international nonprofit dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue has listed the top 10 ways that the EPA has strengthen America. The list highlights how environmental activism benefits not only the Earth, and the people that live on it from a social, moral, and public health perspective, but also how by having avoided widespread contamination of the nation’s resources, it has lead to a stronger, more economically viable future for the nation as a whole over time.

Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson had these comments on the history of the EPA and its effect. “Over its 40-year history, EPA has evolved into the world’s preeminent environmental regulatory agency through a balanced, three-pronged strategy, combining excellent science, regulatory enforcement, and engagement of all stakeholders in developing new solutions to environmental problems. EPA’s balanced, multifaceted structure and operation sets the standard around the world for applying strong science, as well as economic incentives and disincentives, to achieve positive environmental outcomes while allowing businesses to grow and prosper,”

The following are highlights of EPA’s 40 year history identified in the report:

·         Removing Lead from Gasoline—and from the Air

·         Removing the Acid from Rain

·         Clearing Secondhand Smoke

·         Vehicle Efficiency and Emissions Control

·         Controlling Toxic Substances

·         Banning Widespread Use of DDT

·         Rethinking Waste as Materials

·         A Clean Environment for All/Environmental Justice

·         Cleaner Water

·         The “Community Right to Know” Act

A full copy of the report can be found at www.aspeninstitute.org.

 

 
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.

WASHINGTON D.C. – In a recent year end report detailing annual enforcement and compliance results, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through enforcement of regulation, and compliance actions forced polluters to pay more than $110 million in civil penalties and commit to spend an estimated $12 billion on pollution controls, cleanup, and environmental projects that benefit communities. The total accumulated effect of all enforcement, and subsequent reductions in emissions due to infrastructure improvements is expected to prevent the release of nearly 1.4 Billion pounds.

“At EPA, we are dedicated to aggressively go after pollution problems that make a difference in our communities through vigorous civil and criminal enforcement,” stated Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Our commitment to environmental enforcement is grounded in the knowledge that people not only desire, but expect, the protection of the water they drink, the air they breathe and the communities they call home.”

EPA Activities In 2010

Enforcement of the Clean Air Act provisions, are expected o alone account for the reduction of of approximately 400 Million pounds of air pollution per year. It is estimated that those reductions will save between $6.2 Billion and $15 Billion each year in health care costs. Additionally through FY (Fiscal Year) 2010 EPA actions have ensured that over 1 Billion pounds of water pollution will be reduced, eliminated or handled properly, and approximately $8 Billion in investigates will be made in pollution control and environmental improvement projects. EPA’s civil enforcement actions also led to commitments to treat, minimize or properly dispose of more than an estimated 11.8 billion pounds of hazardous waste.

EPA Criminal Enforcement

With diligent effort to vigorously prosecute accused environmental criminals, the EPA in FY 2010 opened 346 new environmental crime cases. The results are that 289 defendants were charged with committing environmental crimes, with 198 being convicted a$41 Million being levied in fines and restitution.

Interactive Data Access Tools Increase Transparency.

This year’s annual results include an enhanced mapping tool that allows the public to view detailed information about the enforcement actions taken at more than 4,500 facilities that concluded in FY 2010 on an interactive map of the United States and its territories. The map shows facilities and sites where civil and criminal enforcement actions were taken for alleged violations of U.S. environmental laws regulating air, water, and land pollution. The mapping tool also displays community-based activities like the locations of the environmental justice grants awarded in FY 2010 and the Environmental Justice Showcase Communities.

The release of the EPA’s enforcement and compliance results and the accompanying mapping tool are part of EPA’s commitment to transparency. They are intended to improve public access to data and provide the public with tools to demonstrate EPA’s efforts to protect human health and the environment in communities across the nation.

 

 
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.