CATS: Emission recovery systems the latest craze and all the rage?

Number eight in the Clean Air Technologies Series.

Hydrogen_station_pump[1]Think how many fugitive vapors or emissions there are in the world. What if they could all be captured and put to good use?

In “Device converts manure gases into clean and useful energy,” discussed was how methane, a biogas emitted naturally from manure and, how with the help of “a covered lagoon digester system with a microturbine electric generation system,” such can be converted into electricity.

More on methane recovery goings on, the California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board or ARB in “Key Events in the History of Air Quality in California” listing pointed out for year 2009, the ARB adopted a “landfill methane control measure that will reduce 1.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in the state’s landmark fight against global warming.” It was further explained that “The Air Resources Board (ARB) approved a new regulation that reduces emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas, from municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. The regulation, which became effective June 17, 2010, is a discrete early action greenhouse gas emission reduction measure, as described in the California Global Warming Solutions Act (‘AB 32’). The regulation primarily requires owners and operators of certain uncontrolled MSW landfills to install gas collection and control systems, and requires existing and newly installed gas and control systems to operate in an optimal manner.” (For more, see: ARB’s “Landfill Methane Control Measure”).

Pretty amazing stuff!

Methane isn’t the only gaseous substance that can be reclaimed or recovered and/or reused.

Two more I can think of right-off-the-bat are gasoline vapor recovery (via motor vehicle onboard refueling vapor recovery systems, gas pumps and onboard gasoline delivery trucks), and capture and injection into the ground of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. The latter technique is perhaps more commonly known as “carbon capture and sequestration.”

Onboard refueling vapor recovery (ORVR) “is a vehicle emission control system that captures fuel vapors from the vehicle gas tank during refueling,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains in a “Commonly Asked Questions About ORVR” document.

And there is more on fugitive fuel vapor recovery from the ARB and, in particular, in the context of GDF [Gasoline Dispensing Facility] dispenser hoses.

Added the ARB: “GDF hoses in California are part of a GDF’s vapor recovery system. These hoses not only carry fuel from the GDF dispenser to the vehicle fuel tank, but they serve as a return path for the displaced vapor from the vehicle fuel tank back to the GDF storage tank.”

Meanwhile, carbon capture and storage (CCS) of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions “from new and existing coal- and gas-fired power plants, industrial processes and other stationary sources,” as the EPA pointed out, “is a three-step process that includes:

  • Capture of CO2 from power plants or industrial sources
  • Transport of the captured and compressed CO2 (usually in pipelines)
  • Underground injection and geologic sequestration, or permanent storage, of the CO2 in rock formations that contain tiny openings – or pores – that trap and hold the CO2

Are there recovery systems at work in the world capturing other emission types? More than likely and no doubt scientists and innovators alike are hard at work either trying to devise ways or are actually coming up with ways to capture and possibly reuse other free-floating, on-the-loose emissions.

I will keep my eyes peeled for news in this regard.

– Alan Kandel