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AirQuality AICHE 188V75p247 1977 .pdf

Original filename: AirQuality-AICHE-188V75p247-1977.pdf
Title: AirQuality_ AICHE#188V75p247_1977(2).pdf
Author: Armstrong, Otis P. OP, PE

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Hal B. H. Cooper, Jr.; Otis P. Armstrong; Sulaksh R. Gartom; Martin L Baughman; and Gale F. Hoffnagle (© The
American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 1979.)

Studies were conducted in 1976 concerning future impacts of air quality for alternative scenarios
of electric power generation using; Western coal, Texas lignite, fuel oil, and nuclear power between 1976 and 2000. Minimal increases in emissions of conventional air pollutants would
result from extensive nuclear power development. Extensive lignite development would result in
increased sulfur oxides emissions of 470% to 2,640% above present levels by the year 2000 as
compared to 420% for Western coal. Major use of low sulfur Western coal would result in
increased nitrogen oxides emissions of 100% to 150% by 2000 as compared to 30% to 60% for
major use of Texas lignite. Increased air pollutant emissions would be less for extensive oil use
as compared to use of coal or lignite, but the potential health effects could be more severe
because of the proximity to metropolitan areas. Extensive lignite use would act to aggravate
acid rainfall formation in northeast Texas and Arkansas. Major constraints to power plant sitting
would occur with respect to secondary ambient particulate matter standards because of the
generally high natural background dust levels in many areas of Texas. Photochemical air
pollution would tend to be aggravated in adjacent downwind urban areas. Increased agricultural
crop damage would occur for coal-fired plants at coastal sites. Radiation releases of noble gases
would be greatest from nuclear power plants, especially if reprocessing facilities were
constructed in Texas. Substantial increases in radioactive particulate releases could occur with
extensive south Texas lignite development to a level equivalent to nuclear power unless suitable
control technologies were utilized.

The increasingly serious national energy problem of decreasing availability and increasing cost of petroleum
and natural gas will necessitate increasing reliance on alternative fuels such as coal, lignite, and uranium in the
future. This conversion to alternative fuels is especially important in the electric power industry, where the use
of coal, lignite, and nuclear power can be most readily accomplished. The potential problems associated with
excessive reliance on the use of natural gas as an energy source was forcefully brought home in the north
eastern United States in the winter of 1976 to 1977 by the need to curtail deliveries during the extremely cold
weather in periods of peak demand. The potential problems relating to fuel conversion for electric utilities have
nowhere been greater than in Texas, where as much as 95% of the state's electricity was supplied by natural
gas as late as 1972. In recognition of the need to convert from natural gas to alternate fuels, the Texas Railroad
Commission issued Docket No. 600 requiring all major combustion sources to reduce their natural gas usage

by 25% below the 1975 base levels prior to 1985 . The electric utility industry in Texas presently has a mayor
conversion program underway to convert a major portion of its base-load capacity from natural gas firing to
coal, lignite, and nuclear power by 1985. It is estimated that there will be as many as 10 lignite-fired and 5
coal-fired power plants operating in Texas by 1985 With a total generating capacity of approximately 15,000

and 7,500 MH(e), respectively, and 2 nuclear plants with a total generating capacity of 4,000 MWe .
The increasing use of coals lignite and nuclear power plants in Texas is expected to have mayor impacts on the
state's air quality. The extensive conversion from natural gas to coal and lignite is expected to result in
large-scale increases in emissions of particulate matter, sulfur oxides, and nitrogen oxides to the atmosphere.
These increased emissions are expected to alter the photochemical air pollution in downwind urban areas by
changes in reactant ratios, to increase vegetation damage to crops in farming areas, to reduce forestry and
productivity in northeast Texas, and to reduce atmospheric visibility…(to read all; order full text of this
important historical document).

The authors were affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin, Center for Energy Studies, Austin,
Texas. Mr. Hoffnagle was with the Intera Environmental Consultants, Houston, Texas, during the study,
and later with Environmental Research and Technology, Inc. item: 0065-8812-79-92180188-$2.55

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