Industrial air pollution gets a lot of slack in the media, because it has been directly linked to climate change. Regulatory agencies on nearly every continent have taken further steps to reduce the amount of emissions allowed by industrial processes, and the only method of reducing the pollutants in exhaust emissions is with industrial air pollution control equipment.
In many manufacturing processes, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are produced as a byproduct of production or processing. Industrial air pollution control equipment is used to process or abate those dangerous chemicals and compounds, so they do not end up in the air, soil, and/or water. This encompasses just about every manufacturing process you can think of; food, beverage, packaging, steel, natural gas, oil, cosmetics, automotive, paint, pharmacy, printing, et cetera. The price to install this equipment varies greatly, from tens of thousands of dollars, to millions of dollars, depending on the size of the process streams, and what types of VOCs and hazardous air pollutants the streams contain. This equipment is mandatory in most cases, and is the responsibility of the facility to purchase.
Because of the associated cost, pollution control equipment is often something facilities are not excited to purchase. But what if pollution control equipment was on the profit side of your budget sheet, instead of the expense side? There are a few ways pollution control equipment can help pay for itself, and sometimes even produce a profit for the facility.
- Methane Abatement
- Heat Recovery
- Solvent Recovery
- Carbon Trading
- Tax Incentives
- VOC & NOx Trade
- RNG + Green Energy
Methane, for instance, is a commonly produced waste gas from several different applications and industries. Methane can be incredibly valuable, as there are several ways to abate it, and use it as fuel or an energy source. What most people do not know is that methane can be converted into Renewable Natural Gas, electricity, or heat.
Top Sources of Methane Gas:
Enteric Fermentation, Landfills, Natural Gas Systems, Coal Mining, Manure Management, Petroleum Systems, Wastewater Treatment, Stationary Combustion, Rice Cultivation, Abandoned Coal Mines, Mobile Combustion, Composting, Petrochemical Production, Field Burning of Agricultural Residue, Iron & Steel Production, Ferroalloy Production.
One of the major public focuses on methane is from coal mines. Although many countries are starting to turn away from coal as an energy source, it is still an important industry in much of the world. One of the biggest concerns with coal mining is the release of methane from the mines. This methane must be vented out of the shafts for the miners to safely work underground. This is called ventilation air methane, or VAM. VAM is responsible for roughly 70% of all coal mine methane emissions, and while generally considered too diluted to be explosive, this methane presents an environmental risk, as well as a source of lost revenue. Coal Mine vent shafts emit many tons of methane each year. Carbon credit programs to incentivize methane destruction rather than venting are set to begin in 2021 under the current emissions trading system (ETS).
The method in which revenue can be gained through the abatement of this methane is with a specialized CH4 VAM Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer or A Ventilation Air Methane Thermal Oxidizer (VAMTOX).
What sets a VAM RTO apart from a traditional RTO?
- If the Methane concentration is greater than 0.25%:
- RTO self-sustaining
- Excess heat
- Hot gas bypassed to boiler
- Boiler generates steam
- Steam runs turbine generator
VAM oxidation + power generation = ROI
Because the RTO is so efficient at reclaiming effluent heat, the units often times are capable of sustaining combustion temperatures without any supplemental fuel, utilizing the VOC steam as the only source of fuel. This technology is highly desirable because it is self-sustaining and offers up to 99.5% destruction rate efficiency.
Another major source of methane, and energy, is landfills. But this will be addressed later in the article.
Another way pollution control equipment can pay for itself is by using the heat created by the system. An oxidizer uses extremely high temperatures as a means of destruction. Heat recovery in oxidizers can be accomplished in two different ways: Extracting heat from the stack or extracting heat directly from the combustion chamber. Dryer exhaust air temperature, solvent concentration and heat exchanger efficiency determine the oxidizer stack air temperature. As oxidizer efficiency is increased, the stack temperature will decrease. Destruction efficiency requirements determine the combustion chamber temperature. When concentrations rise above the minimum energy required for self-sustaining operation, excess heat is generated in the combustion chamber. This excess heat presents a great opportunity for heat recovery.
Uses for recovered heat: HVAC systems for heating, conversion to electricity, and use in other industrial processes like boilers, ovens, etc…
Heat Exchange Options:
- Direct Air Heat Recovery
- Air-to-Air Heat Recovery
- Air-to-Oil Heat Recovery
- Air-to-Steam Heat Recovery
- Absorption Chiller Heat Recovery
- Solvent Recovery
There are certain abatement processes that result in a waste byproduct. In some cases, this byproduct can be repurposed, and even sold. Some common examples of this include:
GCES commissioned a packed bed scrubber at a large LED lighting manufacturing facility, that was abating a large amount of hydrogen and ammonia. The process to destroy these compounds resulted in the production of Ammonium Sulfate. This byproduct is designed to increase herbicide performance through increased absorption into a plant’s phloem through the leaf cuticle and decreased antagonism due to calcium ion mineralization, which is used as a fertilizer. Generally, Ammonia Sulfate solution sells for between $0 to $0.25 per gallon pending transportation and chemical quality of the solution.
Another example of profitable solvent recovery at a steel making facility. Direct reduction (DR) technologies to improve steel making efficiencies have been continually advancing since the 1960s. In producing direct reduced iron (DRI), carbon dioxide (CO2) is released as an off-gas to the process. Many steel plants worldwide have been upgrading their DR process to include a CO2 desorption module. CO2 desorption models are used to recapture the CO2 which is then used in oilfields or bottling operations developing additional profit lines for the steel production facilities. This particular customer was able to sell the CO2 to one of the world’s largest beverage companies, meeting their abatement requirements, and making a profit from the waste byproduct.
A third example of profitable solvent recovery from the abatement of VOCs from an industrial exhaust stream would be the collection of TCE from a fishing sinker manufacturer’s process. A fluidized carbon bed system was installed to remove several VOCs from the process waste gas. The carbon that collected the VOCs was then treated with hot air, to extract the byproduct of abatement from the FBC. The chemical that the customer was left with is trichloroethylene. The particular chemical has a few industrial uses, including degreasing metal machine parts, and as a chemical in certain refrigerants. The customer is able to sell this byproduct for profit.
Our engineers are experts at evaluating process streams. Not all applications will produce a solvent for recovery, but those that do can be consider recovery.
- Carbon Trading
A facility that implements a green energy program is eligible to receive carbon credits. Carbon credits can be sold or traded between participating facilities. One ton of carbon equates to a single carbon credit, which is worth between $11 and $14, depending on the market. The market for carbon credits was created to lessen the concentration of growth in the release of greenhouse gases. It works by allowing facilities to trade off the amount of emissions they are allowed to release, in a capped market. If a plant is emitting far below the allotted amount, they may sell their credits to a facility that is meeting or exceeding their allotted amount. This mean the same amount of pollution is being released in one capped area, an no one breaks regulation.
Gulf Coast Environmental Systems can help you implement a green energy program, and guide you in the carbon credit trading market.
- Tax Incentives
Across the globe, there are various tax credits and subsidies available for companies participating in pollution reduction and green energy development programs. GCES has partnered with organization around the world to assist our customers in navigating the process to receive tax credits and incentives. Biogas development, mining, food production, automotive, and transportation are all industries that are commonly eligible for incentives.
Countries on nearly every continent are changing their regulations, and attempting to incentivize industry to get on board with pollution reduction. These tax breaks and incentives are completely different for each country, and in some cases, even by state and country levels. GCES can help you navigate and determine each facility’s potential for tax savings. Incentives vary from region to region, but could be available on a city, county, state, air district, industry, and country level.
- VOC & NOx Trading:
Similar to carbon trading, VOC and NOx credits can be traded and sold for profit in some markets. This is typically achieved on a more localized scale, meaning every market is completely different. A facility that is exceeding what is required, as far as emissions, may be able to sell their credits to facilities meeting their allowed emissions, for profit. GCES can connect buyers and sellers.
Example of VOC and NOx trading: If a facility releases 348 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 522 tons of (VOC) into the air each year, they may need to offset that. They would need to buy credits at a ratio between 1.15 and 1.3 credits for every ton of emissions.
To purchase these credits, they will need to find a seller that is not meeting their emissions cap. That facility will now profit from their pollution control equipment, which has helped them come in below their regulated emissions.
- RNG & Green Energy
Landfills produce a large portion of the methane in the atmosphere. Most landfills are required to abate their methane. What most people do not know is that methane can be converted into Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), electricity, or heat.
RNG stands for renewable natural gas. Renewable natural gas, also known as sustainable natural gas (SNG), or biomethane, is a biogas that can now be used as a pipeline energy source. Natural gas and energy companies can purchase the waste gas from landfill gas abatement, and sell it to their customers. RNG qualifies as an advanced biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
RNG created by landfill gas abatement are incredibly valuable, because they can be used interchangeably with natural gas, and the US government incentivizes energy companies to purchase and use them. As of March 2015, there were about 645 operational Landfill Gas projects in the United States through the Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP), and that number was expected to steeply rise. Because of this, these gases often sell at a higher rate, than conventional natural gas. The end result of RNG development takes dangerous gases, and turns them into valuable sources of energy, while aiding in the prevention of global warming. Landfill companies benefit financially, in a big way, with the expertise of the Gulf Coast Environmental Systems team.
Green Energy: Biogas solutions are the next shift in green energy, and we are working to develop these solutions in dozens of countries in North America, South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Through the implementation of biogas creation systems for the processing of landfill waste, agriculture waste, food and beverage production waste, municipal waste treatment facilities and more GCES is helping our customers reduce waste and develop additional revenue streams.
Over the past 50 years, environmental regulations have become stricter and technology has advanced to more efficiently remove pollutants as an ‘end of the pipe’ solution. With the effects of climate change becoming more and more obvious, and the public attention on industrial facilities and their emissions, pollution control equipment is an absolute must. It is important for buyers and procurement teams to see this planet saving technology as a plus in the expense vs profit conversation. Gulf Coast Environmental Systems has over a century of combined pollution control experience. We work with you to understand the needs of your process stream and from there we will custom design the best system or a number of optional systems to solve your pollution control issues.
If you would like to learn more about your pollution control options, and how it can help your facility turn an expense into a profit, contact GCES today. Call (832) 476-9024, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org