Air Quality Matters – 2014 in review: Stationary sources – Part 1: Fuel combustion

Thus begins the “Air Quality Matters – 2014 in review: Stationary sources” series. Similar in idea and layout to the “Mobile sources” series, this series focuses on emissions reduction in the stationary sources sector. To repeat a thought from “Air Quality Matters – 2014 in review: Mobile sources – Part 1: Trains”:

“Furthermore, each [category] is broken down, first by bringing to the forefront a deficit condition followed by mention of some advancement in the area that is both noteworthy/praiseworthy and technologically significant or important.” The same holds true here.

Meanwhile, in “In search of cleaner air – Part 2: The South Coast Air Basin” listed are the various stationary sources, such as: “Fuel combustion, waste disposal, cleaning and surface coatings, petroleum production and marketing, and industrial processes.”

Oil shale combustion
Oil shale combustion

“Stationary sources – Part 1: Fuel combustion” takes a look at fuel combustion in the stationary-sources sector and one of its byproducts – carbon dioxide (CO2) – in addition to the application of innovative development tools regarding its cleanup.

Fuel combustion – from: “Gasoline prices down: What’s ‘up’ with that?” (Dec. 3).

“And, on the matter of fuel, there is but one more thing to consider: 20 pounds of carbon dioxide is produced for every gallon of gasoline burned.”

Some reading this might be thinking, perhaps even saying: “Whoa! Wait just a minute! Carbon dioxide isn’t an air pollutant!”

Well, I’d say it depends in what context CO2 is applied. For instance, in support of this in: “Earth Day 2014: ‘Conserve’ is the word” (Apr. 22), I wrote:

“It is indeed more than just a curiosity that one type of pollution can actually cause another. Some of the additional carbon dioxide (CO2) entering the atmosphere goes elsewhere: it has been and is ending up in major bodies of water like the world’s oceans. In fact, writer Elizabeth Kolbert in OnEarth magazine insists, since even before 1800, what has resulted with heightened CO2 emissions, is ocean acidity levels intensifying.

“In the Kolbert article in question, according to the author, this increased ocean acidity, from what I understand, is due to air-to-ocean transference of CO2 and there is less of that gas escaping from the oceans than what is being introduced. And, as it happens, each year carbon dioxide by the billions of tons is being added to the seas. Not a pretty picture.

kandel-ship-1“So, the atmosphere, tantamount to being a dumping ground for the extra CO2, what this, in effect, is resulting in are pH-altered seas. And, what the increased oceanic acidity means is: sea life is impacted if not threatened.”

So, yes, in that context I think it is safe to say CO2 is a pollutant and much if not most of this pollution is generated via the burning of fossil fuels which, itself, is a polluting process.

Now as to how to better technologically manage this gas, one viable way is through its capture and potential reuse so as to keep it out of the atmosphere primarily and bodies of water secondarily.

It was back in “Greenhouses for carbon dioxide capture? Why not?!” (May 12) that I, in fact, wrote about redirecting excess CO2 into greenhouses since plants take on CO2 anyway, especially in the sense that in winter when ambient (natural) lighting conditions are reduced, in the absence of natural or even artificial lighting, plants could benefit from being fed a steady diet of carbon dioxide gas. Here is some of what I offered:

“Think about it for a moment. Supplemental lighting in an application such as with regard to enclosed structure crop growing and given the notion that electricity needed for such (during wintertime) is likely an expensive proposition as far as purchasing electricity goes, then by switching the supplemental lighting out and in its place bringing the proper amounts of CO2 in, not only would such a scenario result in the demand on the electricity supply being lower and the load on the power grid being less, presumably, but more of the CO2 that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere as waste could instead be put to use in helping to grow crops during winter specifically in enclosed environment applications.”

For Part 2, in regard to stationary sources, I shine a spotlight on waste and its disposal.

Lower image: United States Coast Guard

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