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PE Volume 115 Issue 2
New research indicates the impact of rising CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere will cause unstoppable effects for at least the next 1,000 years, leading researchers to estimate a collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet by the year 3000 and a rise in global sea levels of at least four meters.
Editor’s note: This article is excerpted from a paper given at POWER-GEN International in Orlando in December 2010 that was selected by the conference planning committee for recognition as one of the best papers of the show. The complete paper is available at the Power Engineering magazine web site www.power-eng.com.
At 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 2, 1957, the control rods at the Shippingport Atomic Power Station were raised just enough to allow the world’s first full-scale atomic electric power plant devoted exclusively to peacetime uses to reach criticality. After two weeks of testing and power ascension, the plant was providing electricity throughout the Pittsburgh area. Philip Fleger, Chairman of the Board for Duquesne Light Co., said, “The lessons already learned in building this pioneer station, the lessons yet to be learned in operating it, will be applied throughout the free world. Atomic power stations now under construction, as well as others still to be designed, will be more efficient and more economical because of it.”
It has been used to detect air patterns at airports and turbulence on planes, adopted by cartographers and used to develop ranging applications and has been used to detect atmospheric pollutants. It seems that LIDAR, or light detection and ranging, is being used everywhere, even on Mars, where NASA uses it to detect ice and dust clouds.
At 316 GW, the U.S. coal fleet accounts for approximately one-third of all capacity and generates about half of all electrical output. A large portion of the current coal fleet lacks major environmental controls that will be required for most coal-fired plants once emerging U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on air quality, water use and ash disposal take effect. According to the Brattle Group, an economic research firm, approximately 52 percent (165 GW) of the coal-fired fleet has no scrubbers. Approximately 57 percent (180 GW) is lacking selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and about 96 percent (300 GW) is without activated carbon injection (ACI) and baghouse controls.
When the ash storage pond at Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA’s) Kingston Fossil Plant in Harriman, Tenn. overflowed into the surrounding areas on Dec. 21, 2008, ash handling processes met the inevitability of change. Ash handling systems have experienced gradual changes since the 1970s, but the Kingston event triggered the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) to create new regulations for ash handling that will have a significant impact on coal-fired power plants.
Over the last several months, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been aggressive in promulgating air quality initiatives on a variety of levels, most of which will sooner or later have some affect on industrial-type boiler systems. When taken together these initiatives present some substantial, sometimes conflicting, but not insurmountable challenges.
Coal-fired plant operators may have several questions when evaluating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) proposed rules for coal ash handling. How will the rules affect individual coal-fired plants? What plant modifications will be necessary? How much will these modifications cost? Will the regulations have an effect on byproduct markets?
A new onsite mixed oxidant system at the R.M. Schahfer Generating Station of Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO), in Wheatfield, Ind., has yielded substantial treatment chemical cost savings and improved Summer operation compared to the control unit cooling tower.
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